Filmmaking is one of the most complex collaboration processes of all time, but oh, are the outcomes rewarding! In this article, we will discuss the art of collaboration in screenwriting, how you as a writer can play well with others in the process, and how your screenplays can benefit from it.
HEAR OTHERS OUT
There are many ways in which writers must be open to collaboration during the filmmaking process. Maybe you have teamed up with a producer and are collaborating to script the piece of IP that they have optioned or maybe you are collaborating with a manager to make tweaks to the next draft of your pilot. Either way, it is important to go into the process with an open mind. A large part of playing well with others involves being open to the ideas and thoughts of those around you, even if you don’t necessarily agree. You never know, sometimes a note that initially sounds wrong or wouldn’t work can transform into something that can make the script better.
Writers will also find themselves collaborating in the Writers’ Room. A Writers’ Room is a round table setting, and nowadays sometimes held over Zoom, where TV writers brainstorm each element of a TV series with the end goal of potentially snagging their own episode to write. In a writer’s room, the best idea or funniest joke wins, and that might not always be yours.
Be supportive of others and know that your ultimate goal is to serve the story. Collaborating is all about setting egos aside for the greater good of the story. Are you wanting to exercise your collaborative muscles? Then check out our exclusive BFF membership. Not to mention this monthly group is hosted by our fabulous CEO and Head Consultant, Shannan E. Johnson. This group has a lot of perks, but one of them is being in a mini writers’ group setting where you will be able to collaborate with other writers by giving feedback on each other’s ideas and screenplays.
STAY TRUE TO YOUR SCREENPLAY
While collaborating is all about working with others, you also want to stay true to yourself and ultimately your screenplay. Hear others out, be flexible, but if you know something is off or doesn’t feel right with the story or the process, then feel empowered to advocate for yourself and your screenplay. Don’t let the opinions of others diminish the true essence of your screenplay.
On the flip side of that, sometimes when a writer is hired as a writer-for-hire with a producer who has already procured the IP, then they are mostly at the helm of the vision of the producer. So even if a note doesn’t feel like the right choice, even after advocating, the writer must ultimately give the producer what they want.
BEING ON THE SAME PAGE
When collaborating with others, being on the same page is essential. If the producer thinks that the protagonist’s goal is A but you know that the protagonist’s goal is B, then that is a recipe for disaster. Make sure that the beats are clear and agreed upon and that each party is on the same page about the screenplay’s structure and beats. Communication is key when collaborating on writing a script or really in any phase of the scriptwriting process. Important information about character and story can be lost in translation if communication is not clear.
Try keeping a living document for the team to have access to so that everyone can be on the same page. ArcStudio is a screenwriting platform that makes it easy to collaborate during the screenwriting process by allowing you to invite collaborators, comment, and more during all stages of developing your screenplay.
LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
Collaborating in filmmaking is all about working well with others for the betterment of the story. Don’t let egos and fancy titles make you forget what’s important, and that is the story and the message that you want to convey to the audience. Work hard, play fair, and don’t forget to advocate for the story.
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