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Old 05-22-2017, 12:55 AM   #1
Hey Man
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The Price Of A "Director's Pass"

Greetings,

I was just curious if anyone here has had a similar story or experience - especially writers.

I am actually a producer on a film that my partner wrote and this script has been in demand for over 10 years with various production companies, directors, actors and various other attachments wanting to make it both in Canada and America, but there would be always be something that would fall through at the last minute and then we would have to start over again with another production company, raise financing again, etc.

We now have a situation where there is a director potentially interested in directing our movie and this would be beneficial to us, because we think he's great director and if he is attached, it would trigger the financing we need through the government funding sources in Canada and the movie would most likely get made.

The problem is that he doesn't really like the script all that much, but sees potential in the material as long as he is writing the screenplay and thus has stated that he would have to do a Director's Pass - a substantial rewrite. We would have to let go of the material, the scenes, the dialogue that we know and love and hand over the reigns to him. As we were told, he has strong ideas about how to improve it, shape it into something that fits HIS own sensibilities, as if we are "God damn janitors around here" to quote the great Barton Fink film.

Now let me clarify, I have no problem making the script better and as usual - people have notes and our writer implements them to everyone's satisfaction - but this is the first time ever that someone wanted to write the script themselves, because in his OPINION, he thinks he can write a better movie and that's really the point - it's just his opinion - what doesn't work for one director, may be perfect to another director.

Now we are not forced to work with him - it's our decision, but it's pretty much a guaranteed movie if we go with him vs. further struggle getting the movie made. I would just hate for the movie to be finally made and be bitter as hell because I feel the film was compromised. I would almost rather not make the film at all vs. making something that makes me cringe just watching it in a worst case scenario. The stories are "creative differences" on films are endless.

We are meeting with him next week to hear his ideas and I will know then if we want to move forward with him or not, but I am sort of bothered that he would even make the demand without allowing the writer the opportunity to implement notes first. He's not Martin Scorsese where such demands could be expected - in fact he's pretty much a nobody director in the big picture, but in Canada, he has directed some movies that got some attention.

I just haven't come all this way to have the movie taken away from us creatively simply due to a difference of opinion or going with the wrong director - you hope to find a director that is on the same page as you for the most part even if there are notes, but that's not the case here. The director may indeed have a great ideas, but I want the writer to implement them in his "voice" so to speak or writing style. To me, it's like someone coming along and wanting to rewrite Mamet or Tarantino - that's just crazy. I am just really passionate about this screenplay and it's a film that would make me very proud.

As you can see - this is freaking me out. We may finally get our movie made, but the price for that may be too high in him wanting to do a full rewrite.

I just wanted to rant, so thank you for that and I would appreciate any feedback.

HM
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Old 05-22-2017, 08:15 AM   #2
mlesemann
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While I haven't been through this personally because I've put the funding together myself for my 2 features (I'm a writer & producer), I don't think it's all that unusual. It comes down to a question of how much you're willing to compromise to get the movie made.

Why does he want to make the movie if he doesn't like the script? Is there something about it that he DOES like? My instinct is that you should sit down with him next week and get a feel for his ideas before making a decision. You may be able to find enough common ground that it makes sense to go forward. And if not, then you may well be better off passing on the opportunity.

I DID go through my screenplays line by line with the director in both cases, and we made significant changes - all of which I think made the scripts better.
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Old 05-22-2017, 08:54 AM   #3
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I'd expect any director to want to do this. If they didn't want to make it their own, I'd be surprised and especially if they know their name will be attached from a funding perspective.
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Old 05-22-2017, 10:06 AM   #4
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This is quite typical. The person with the most power gets to decide
the script. I was in a situation where an actor had the power and did
a substantial rewrite because she didn't like the script that much but
saw potential in it. We got it made but it wasn't the movie I wrote.

It looks like this is not the director for your project. Sure, with him
attached you get the government funding but you don't make YOUR
movie – you make his movie.

Not an easy decision to make: Stand by your script and lose the financing
or go with a director who doesn't like the script that much and lose your
script.
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Old 05-22-2017, 12:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlesemann View Post
While I haven't been through this personally because I've put the funding together myself for my 2 features (I'm a writer & producer), I don't think it's all that unusual. It comes down to a question of how much you're willing to compromise to get the movie made.

Why does he want to make the movie if he doesn't like the script? Is there something about it that he DOES like? My instinct is that you should sit down with him next week and get a feel for his ideas before making a decision. You may be able to find enough common ground that it makes sense to go forward. And if not, then you may well be better off passing on the opportunity.

I DID go through my screenplays line by line with the director in both cases, and we made significant changes - all of which I think made the scripts better.
As I stated before, I all for working with a director and making the script the best that it can be - this is the way it always has been, but the difference is that past directors would provide their notes and we would implement some of those notes - it was a collaborative process.

In this case, he wants to go off and rewrite the script himself with the position that we let him have control and it isn't so much of a collaborative process.

He is potentially interested in directing, because he sees enough of a good thing that he thinks his version can make it a great movie. Again, this is all just one's guy opinion. There have been directors associated with the project in the past that would say this guy is crazy if he wants to completely change the movie and that's ultimately my point - typically we have worked with people who ultimately wanted to make the same movie.

Even if we do find common ground, I don't really want him to be writing it. Let my writer write it as he writes incredible scenes and fantastic dialogue - he's the very reason why this script has been in demand for so many years and everyone has wanted to make it.

I take it you did the new draft with your screenplay - the director didn't demand that he write it. Were there some notes you didn't agree with, so you didn't make some changes that he wanted?

Thanks.
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Old 05-22-2017, 12:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by gorillaonabike View Post
I'd expect any director to want to do this. If they didn't want to make it their own, I'd be surprised and especially if they know their name will be attached from a funding perspective.
Director's don't typically rewrite screenplays though. They give notes and the writer implements those notes on lower budget stuff. This isn't a case on a bigger budget movie where the writer is paid to fuck off and 3 other writers are brought on, etc.

According to this guy, a director shouldn't even be rewriting scripts and I agree with this notion:

“Rewriting a script? It’s not the director’s job to rewrite. It is the director’s job to work with a writer. I’m a very passionate protector of the writer and I think if the writer has brought a script to a point where a director is interested in doing it, then they should keep working with the writer.”

http://filmcourage.com/2017/03/18/di...mark-w-travis/
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Old 05-22-2017, 12:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by directorik View Post
This is quite typical. The person with the most power gets to decide
the script. I was in a situation where an actor had the power and did
a substantial rewrite because she didn't like the script that much but
saw potential in it. We got it made but it wasn't the movie I wrote.

It looks like this is not the director for your project. Sure, with him
attached you get the government funding but you don't make YOUR
movie – you make his movie.

Not an easy decision to make: Stand by your script and lose the financing
or go with a director who doesn't like the script that much and lose your
script.
Well many producers would say that they have the most power and in some cases, they have fired the director due to creative differences.

Were you essentially fired or were you still working with the actor, but she was the one actually doing the writing? Did you know even before the camera's rolled that this was not going to be the movie you hoped to make? Was the director not on your side at all or producers?

What is your take of the movie now - are you bitter about the experience? Does watching it make you cringe or do you actually like the movie, it's just not the movie you wanted to make?
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Old 05-22-2017, 01:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hey Man:
Were there some notes you didn't agree with, so you didn't make some changes that he wanted?
Yes, but I was also the producer so that muddies the comparison a bit.
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Old 05-22-2017, 01:49 PM   #9
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Yes, but I was also the producer so that muddies the comparison a bit.
And I am the producer on this film and I am passionate about my writer's work.

Did your director take issue with you only changing some things or he just accepted it.
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Old 05-22-2017, 03:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hey Man View Post
Well many producers would say that they have the most power and in some cases, they have fired the director due to creative differences.
Many do. I got the impression that in this case you do not have that
power. Do you have the power to fire this director and still keep
the funding?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hey Man View Post
Were you essentially fired or were you still working with the actor, but she was the one actually doing the writing? Did you know even before the camera's rolled that this was not going to be the movie you hoped to make? Was the director not on your side at all or producers?
I was not fired. I was the writer and director. I did NOT want to change
the script but without the actress we did not have the funding. The
was in the position you seem to be in; in my case no actress, no funding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hey Man View Post
What is your take of the movie now - are you bitter about the experience? Does watching it make you cringe or do you actually like the movie, it's just not the movie you wanted to make?
I am not bitter. All experiences are helpful and something I learn from.
I do not like the movie we made; it was NOT my script it was hers. I
have compromised many times when making a movie. That doesn't make
me bitter. To me this is a business. Business comes first.
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Old 05-22-2017, 03:22 PM   #11
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Many do. I got the impression that in this case you do not have that
power. Do you have the power to fire this director and still keep
the funding?



I was not fired. I was the writer and director. I did NOT want to change
the script but without the actress we did not have the funding. The
was in the position you seem to be in; in my case no actress, no funding.


I am not bitter. All experiences are helpful and something I learn from.
I do not like the movie we made; it was NOT my script it was hers. I
have compromised many times when making a movie. That doesn't make
me bitter. To me this is a business. Business comes first.
The funding isn't 100% guaranteed if we go with him, but it will most likely be made if he is attached per the funding agencies in Canada, however this isn't to say that we couldn't get the same funding with another more agreeable director - it's more of a time issue. We can get the movie made quickly with this director in 2018 or find the right fit director that might take us into 2019/2020.

Unfortunately for me, this is a sort of passion project - so I would rather not make the movie at all, if I felt that the movie was going off the rails in regards to the creative aspects that I feel are essential. Don't get me wrong, I am all for a collaborative process and choosing my battles, but taking the film away from me and the writer is a different story.

I understand now why people have wanted to take their name off of a movie or use Alan Smithee in the past. They couldn't live with what they felt was a film abortion.

What did you learn from the movie - never agree to an actor rewriting your work again? That would be my take away.
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Old 05-22-2017, 06:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hey Man View Post
Unfortunately for me, this is a sort of passion project - so I would rather not make the movie at all, if I felt that the movie was going off the rails in regards to the creative aspects that I feel are essential.
Sounds like you've got your answer then.

Why don't you see if you can work with the Director on a different project that you can get funded?

This movie will not be your last. So, how important is keeping creative control? If very, move onto different projects and advance your career until you're at a stage where you can make this the way you want (or attach a different Director who you align more creatively with).

Alternately, make the movie the Director wants to make and move on to other projects that can then become your 'passion projects'.

Why not see if there are other key people you could attach (like an actor, for instance) that might help you get the funding?
If you've been shopping the project for over 10 years, why the sudden rush? Why not wait an extra couple of years and slate it for 2019/2020?
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Old 05-22-2017, 08:22 PM   #13
directorik
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Originally Posted by Hey Man View Post
The funding isn't 100% guaranteed if we go with him, but it will most likely be made if he is attached per the funding agencies in Canada, however this isn't to say that we couldn't get the same funding with another more agreeable director - it's more of a time issue. We can get the movie made quickly with this director in 2018 or find the right fit director that might take us into 2019/2020.
This is why I said, "It looks like this is not the director for your project."

Since you would rather not make the movie with this director who like the script
all that much and wants to do a substantial rewrite you have (as jax said) your
answer. Either give up some (most?) of your current script to get this done quickly
or wait until you find a director who has the same passion for the script as you do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hey Man View Post
What did you learn from the movie - never agree to an actor rewriting your work again? That would be my take away.
Not what I took away from the experience. As a writer my work is often changed.
And not always in a collaborative way. As a producer I often bend to the demands
of the people with the most power. I have continued to work with directors and
actors and producers who what to rewrite my scripts.

I'm very different than most of the people who post here. My passion is making
a living doing what I love. Not each project. I write for TV. We NEVER get what
we want. We write what the Show Runner and network wants. My passion is to
deliver the goods. I direct ultra low budget movies. I NEVER get what I want. As
a director for hire I work with scripts I think are terrible. My passion is to deliver
the movie the producer wants.

I do, however, understand where you're coming from. Sometimes it's essential
to stick with your passion - I've done that, too. How do you feel about waiting
until you find the right director?
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:10 PM   #14
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Sounds like you've got your answer then.

Why don't you see if you can work with the Director on a different project that you can get funded?

This movie will not be your last. So, how important is keeping creative control? If very, move onto different projects and advance your career until you're at a stage where you can make this the way you want (or attach a different Director who you align more creatively with).

Alternately, make the movie the Director wants to make and move on to other projects that can then become your 'passion projects'.

Why not see if there are other key people you could attach (like an actor, for instance) that might help you get the funding?
If you've been shopping the project for over 10 years, why the sudden rush? Why not wait an extra couple of years and slate it for 2019/2020?
Because it has been 10 years and I am 46 years old. I would like to make this movie before I turn 50 or die - whichever comes first.

The bottom line is that we won't go with him if his ideas are completely fucked, but because I do respect him as a director, it would be nice if he was willing to work with the writer in a more collaborative process. Give us notes and let the writer show you what he can do.

One thing to consider as well - if I am right and the film is a piece of shit, that is a stink that sticks to me, so getting another film made won't be so easy.
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:44 PM   #15
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This is why I said, "It looks like this is not the director for your project."

Since you would rather not make the movie with this director who like the script
all that much and wants to do a substantial rewrite you have (as jax said) your
answer. Either give up some (most?) of your current script to get this done quickly
or wait until you find a director who has the same passion for the script as you do.


Not what I took away from the experience. As a writer my work is often changed.
And not always in a collaborative way. As a producer I often bend to the demands
of the people with the most power. I have continued to work with directors and
actors and producers who what to rewrite my scripts.

I'm very different than most of the people who post here. My passion is making
a living doing what I love. Not each project. I write for TV. We NEVER get what
we want. We write what the Show Runner and network wants. My passion is to
deliver the goods. I direct ultra low budget movies. I NEVER get what I want. As
a director for hire I work with scripts I think are terrible. My passion is to deliver
the movie the producer wants.

I do, however, understand where you're coming from. Sometimes it's essential
to stick with your passion - I've done that, too. How do you feel about waiting
until you find the right director?
Regarding the actor - was there even a discussion about her giving you notes or was it simply a demand that she would be writing it?

Are we talking a star here? You don't have to name name's, but if it's a lower budgeted film - I assume you could have replaced her with any similar level actor. Would the financing be gone instantly if you said you wanted to go to another actor or would you have some time to replace the actor before financing would be pulled?

Don't you try to find people who dig your work right from the get go to attach to your projects and aim for a collaborative process. If some actor told me they wanted to personally rewrite the script, I would tell them to fuck off. You are the producer - not a PA. You do have power and a say.

Of course plenty of writers are more than happy to work on any piece of shit as long as they are getting paid, so I have no problem with that or as you said writing for TV and what the producers want - that's cool.

I would like to make a living too, but I couldn't sell out and make movies that I know are shit. I couldn't be Adam Sandler despite the money. I have to work on things that I am proud of and that I am not embarrassed to have my name on it.

Of course even movies with the best of intentions turn out crappy and that's something I can accept. But going in and knowing right from the get go that I am essentially making garbage - ya, I am too critical and a movie snob for that.

I am fine with waiting if need be, but I think it's perfectly reasonable try to get the director to work with the writer, since I would love it if he was the director. I will let you know how our meeting goes.

Last edited by Hey Man; 05-22-2017 at 09:50 PM.
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