Getting feedback in Hollywood can sometimes be discouraging. This week, Manny Fonseca shares some of the recent feedback he's gotten on his scripts.
Manny Fonseca is a former Hollywood creative executive that gave up a life in perpetual development for a life in perpetual development as a Hollywood screenwriter and author. His first book, BURST!, Is currently looking for a publisher and his first script, Whittier, is in pre-production. Twitter: @mannyfonseca
Last time I bombarded you with the long story of where we’re at with my script, Whittier. I told you about finding a new director and burying myself in rewrites to shape the script into his vision. Well, that wasn’t the only thing that was going on during that time, and I thought I’d share just a couple of quick stories about feedback with you.
SENDING THE SCRIPT OUT
Before our new director, JK, attached himself to our project, Barny and I went to a couple of other directors. As you know from previous columns, this meant reaching out to their managers and agents.
In doing so, and ever the close friend that he is, Barny also threw in a “Hey, this guy doesn’t have a manager, would you consider repping him when you read the script?”
Always looking for new talent, they happily did so. Spoiler alert, they passed, but in doing so, I thought I’d share what they said about my shit in the hopes that it helps all of you.
Obviously, I will not be using any real names, but rest assured that these guys are well known. They're well connected and have big name clients. That's not a brag, I just want you to know the level these comments are coming from. This is apparently what it takes to get into the “majors” and out of the “minors.”
Manger feedback #1 (as sent to Barny):
I read WHITTIER and didn't love it. Manny's talented, no doubt, but I think he needs some confidence as a writer. He tried to be too clever with the narrative description -- showing us something visually and then commenting on it. That's a sign of overwriting because the writer doesn't 100% trust himself -- I see it a lot, as I'm sure you do. In addition, I thought the relationship between the doctor and his wife became repetitive and really bogged down the first act. The concept is pretty good though.
Great fucking advice! I wasn’t completely sure what he meant about the confidence thing as I didn’t think I was all that clever, but after rereading it, I totally saw it.
The version he read was the final version I had created with Professor X. It has since been rewritten with JK, and I promise you all that shit is gone. Unfortunately, I’ve already burned that bridge with a bad script and really can’t go back to him with a rewrite.
Manager feedback #2:
Hey Manny -
Hope all is well.
I had a chance to read both of the scripts. Unfortunately, I’m going to pass. I did like the writing in both. But horror is just not really my thing, so Whittier isn’t for me. And with Band of Misfits…again, I enjoyed the writing, but I just don’t feel the concept is unique enough with so many similar things out there. Definitely see what you were going for, and I like these types of movies…but it’s just a really crowded space in the marketplace. Happy to look at your next work, though.
Sorry to bear bad news!
As far as the whole horror thing goes, this isn’t the first time I’ve run into this. Which all of you horror writers out there should take fair warning: You’re going to run into some roadblocks if that’s the route you’re going to go down.
On the flip side of that coin, I also feel like people’s tune would change if your horror script had talent and money attached. After all, like in most situations, money talks in Hollywood and no one wants to miss out on a payday handed to them on a silver platter.
In terms of the comment about Band of Misfits... well, I tend to disagree with that statement, but what am I going to do? Argue with the guy? Fuck no! I might as well soak the bridge in gasoline and torch the sonuvabitch myself. Especially since he offered to take a look at the next stuff I write.
I simply nodded, said thank you and told him I would be in touch by the end of the year with some new shit.
THE HOLLYWOOD "SOFT PASS"
Most of the time though, if you’re lucky to get any response at all, you’re going to get the equivalent of the “Hollywood soft pass” which looks like this. (This came from a small agency that had ZERO clients at the time, as they were just getting started up.)
I had the chance to review THE BLOCK and WHITTIER. Unfortunately, I did not respond to either and will have to pass on those.
The phrase “I didn’t respond to...” is pretty much the standard pass in this town. It'll usually be the only feedback you're lucky (unlucky?) to get. Why? It’s the easiest way to say no at the same time avoiding any type of conflict or argument.
So, there you go peeps...just a little quick inside to a) the kind of feedback I’ve gotten and b) what to expect when you send your stuff out there.