How To Get Feedback On Your Script
You're sure you've written a blockbuster movie - but how can be certain when it's been just you and your screenplay alone in a room for months on end? Take a deep breath - it's time to test out your beloved film script in the real world. We show you how to get the most out of the read-through and feedback process with our step-by-step guide.
Step 1: You Will Need
- A finished script.
- Fellow writers.
- Something to record with.
- A local theatre group.
- Thick skin.
Step 2: Prepare yourself
You have to approach the whole process with an open mind. Yes - you are very talented, but be prepared to take some surprise knock-backs. Remember, it's just been you and your script in a room together for the last year or so. There could be a lot of things wrong with it that you simply can't see - not because you're blind and self-centred, but because you're so deeply involved with your work. With any luck, the feedback process will be cathartic and fill you with a renewed sense of confidence in your ability.
Step 3: Who to ask
It's important to get feedback from a wide variety of people whose opinions you trust and respect. However these people need to be able to make a qualified judgment of your work and not be biased - so don't ask your neighbour. Pick people who understand the creative process. If you are doing a course, ask your teacher to read it through. If you know a fellow writer try approaching them, or join a writers' group.
It's a good idea to pick someone who may not like you that much - if they give you good feedback it means you might well be on the right track. When you ask someone, get them to write some constructive criticism and read it. Some of it you may find very resonant and useful.
Step 4: Make a recording
If possible, try to make a recording with some actors. You could approach a local amateur dramatics society. Get them to sit around a table with your recording device. Don't let them rehearse. Simply hand out the scripts, assign them parts, and make them do a straight sight reading. Don't direct them – you may even want to leave the room..
Step 5: What questions to ask
At the end of the recording, ask pointed questions from a pre-prepared checklist to glean useful responses. Think about questions to do with characters and plot, such as:
Do you believe in the characters? Do they develop and do enough? Do you know enough about them to understand them?
Is the plot well-paced, and is it more than just a series of events? Is it clear what the film is about? Does the ending work?
You should also ask yourself similar questions as you write, but it is especially useful get honest feedback from people who have read it with fresh eyes.
Step 6: Listen to the recording
Give yourself some time before you playback the recording so you can forget what you saw that day. Now listen to it carefully. Ask yourself the following questions, and make notes as you listen:
Does the dialogue sound immediate - like it's being spoken for the first time?
Does it feel natural to listen to?
Does it flow or is it stunted in places?
Does the drama come through in the mind of the listener?
You know want you want to transmit visually, but can this visualisation be felt in dialogue of the recording?
Step 7: Know when to stop!
Do you utmost to correct any problems you have identified from this process – but take care not to go too far, and avoid steering away from your original ideas and intentions. Learn when it's time to just stop!