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Screenwriting : Is there a doctor in the house? by Chanel Ashley

Chanel Ashley

Is there a doctor in the house?

I've come across many subjects/threads that have been discussed on this site, many repeating in separate threads, but there is one subject I have not come across - SCRIPT DOCTOR - is there anyone on this site that would like to shed some light via their experiences - I believe it is more prevalent than one suspects, an important component not given enough credence, a useful tool that can enhance a script - any thoughts?

William Martell

The term is "script consultant", because a script doctor is what they call the writer the studio brings in for some outrageous amount of money per week to do an uncredited rewrite either just before production or during production. I think there are plenty of consultants here and people who have used them...

Chanel Ashley

I presumed script doctor and script consultant were one and the same, apparently not, pity, the latter seems to lack a little romance, a little panache, one sounds a specialist, the other a GP.

Chanel Ashley

Well, Alle, if anyone knew this subject had arisen in many, many threads, it would, of course, be you - shock, horror, I'm inclined to agree with many of the points you made re consultants, but sadly you also brought our attention to information relating to talent and best I leave it there...

Arthur Bellfield

Allie that's the best bit of information I've seen on this site so far!

Cherie Grant

God you read all that?

Benson Descartes

There is often useful info in Alle's posts, but any gems tend to get lost in the verbiage ;)

Steve Sherman

Keep 'em coming Alle. Love your posts. I find them nourishing.

Benson Descartes

Why not post the essence of what you want to say first, and then if someone ASKS you to back it up or to elaborate on the theme, you can always do so later. The wall of text format can be quite offputting ;)

Steve Sherman

Probably faster to write stream of thought than to go back and rewrite.

Bee Devereux

Steve, it might be faster for Alle to write like that, but it sure isn't easier for us to read! Alle, what's an orthowriter?

Andrew Mondia

Just read what is important to you or come back to read some more of it. I admit a skipped over but do love that Allie took time to provide input. She didn't have to but she choose to. Never know who it may help. Now put that in your blog if you have one. If not ... that is an idea.

Steve Sherman

Agreed. But, keep in mind that Alle, like other professionals of her standing, is VERY busy. She does us a FAVOR by sharing her thoughts with us, even in raw form. It is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to glean what we can from this kind of feedback. I've been very fortunate in my life to be able to get incredible insight from brilliant minds from time to time. It is raw, error-prone and takes work to digest. BUT, the nuggets you get from it are invaluable. It's rare when a busy, competent professional will, out of kindness, reach down to help newbies like us! Soak it in, warts and all! :) "Thank you Ma'am! May I have another?"

Andrew Mondia

PS Bee be careful to assume the "US" as not everyone has reading challenges. Maybe for some reading it goes way over but that's the fun of it. Read it in bite size than!

Benson Descartes

Thanks Steve, but I'll take my advice from proper professonals with a grip on reality. Have you actually seen one of Alle's films? If not I suggest you watch one or two, and see if you still have the same opinion of her. She does make good points sometimes and clearly has learnt stuff about the business along the way, but someone with such a lack of self-awareness when it comes to the quality of her own work cannot be taken entirely seriously.

Benson Descartes

Andrew, I think your idea about Alle writing a blog is a good one. It would be better than her repeating everything 100 times in here!

Steve Sherman

Hi, Benson! Good, thought-provoking comments. No, I've not seen one of Alle's films. Doesn't matter. She apparently DOES films and is good enough that others are giving her stamps of approval. What I've noticed is that her comments stand out and are congruent with what I have learned from others for whom I have high regard. I am learning from her comments and recognizing the brilliance I find there. Truth matters to me, not from whence it comes. I like your suggestion that she write in a blog. (I don't know if she does or not.) If she chooses to, I'd certainly follow it! Meanwhile, I'll enjoy hers and the postings of others from whom I may learn. :)

Chanel Ashley

I'm pleased to see Alle has won a few converts, surprised, but hey, pleased - she has on occasions given a lucid account on EVERY aspect of filmmaking, apparently, she has expertise on EVERY aspect of filmmaking and it gladdens all our hearts that she is prepared to share this valuable information with the rest of us - pity she has an urge to also extol her numerous virtues and remarkable talents on virtually every occasion she speaks.

Beth Fox Heisinger

When seeking a script consultant, do your research. Who are some of her/his past clients? What is his/her work history? Take a look at the "Cream of the Crop" list of top script consultants put out by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. Know what you hope to achieve with this person. Know what your goals are. Steve, I suggest you take a look at The Happy Writers if seeking professional writing advice. Most here can't say enough about them -- Joey is amazing. There are several other great professional consultants here on Stage 32 such as Danny Manus who is a story analyst as well. New member, Dan Hoffmann, is also a script consultant and story analyst with an impressive list of film/TV studio clients and has vast experience. Julie Gray is another consultant who is extremely generous and knowledgeable. Her book "Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter's Atlas" is fantastic. Please don't always assume the more forthright someone is in giving their opinion makes them the know all end all person. It does matter where truth comes from. :)

Chanel Ashley

That was an excellent piece, Beth, I was just about to ask the question re good/bad consultants - Alle, with all her faults, did raise the question of some dubious operators out there and how does one differentiate - you shed some light on the issue - Danny Manus appears a good bet, will have a close look at the others you suggested.

Beth Fox Heisinger

For Julie Gray you may need to seek out her web site, which is: http://www.rswriters.com/ And, her blog: http://swoborders.me/ Happy writing everybody!

Danny Manus

Thanks, guys. After the battle I had on twitter the other day, you guys made me smile. Yes, Doctoring is different than consulting. I mean, I do some script doctoring on my clients work sometimes and have done a little doctoring on other projects but that is a different job and skill than consulting. Most true "script doctors" are crazily high paid writers the studio brings in to "fix" a project for 2 weeks or as production is about to commence and they get paid 250K a week or some crazy amount... We can all dream. In terms of consulting, there are many great consultants out there. I like to think I'm one of them. Just do your due dilligence. Read articles by people, look at their clients, look at how long they've been working in the business and in what capacities. And obviously look at what they charge and if that works for you - and what you get for that money. AND make sure whomever you choose has a face and a name. There are tons of anonymous services out there, but I suggest a writer know who they are dealing with so you can actually have a dialogue with them if you need to. Would love to work with any and all of you.

Chanel Ashley

$250K/week? Where does one apply? Nice response, Danny most of have parted with our hard-earned with a consultant at sometime, and many will again in the future, so this advise is of paramount interest to most writers.

Chanel Ashley

I suggest Phil Clarke from the UK is also worth consideration, he is a member and fits the criteria suggested by Danny Manus.

CJ Walley

The two terms are certainly being used interchangeably by some. A couple of other names I often hear banded around positively are Screenplay Mechanic and Script Gal. Any good consultant should be putting their experience and testimonials up front. Personally I'd chose someone with a background working in development over a struggling writer who's turned to cannibalising on their peers. There seem to be a lot of the latter sadly.

Benson Descartes

Alle, anyone who claims (as you have on more than one occasion) that they have NEVER been wrong should be viewed with deep suspicion! My main issue with you is that you have NO insight into the quality of your own work, which means you can never grow as a film maker.

Steve Sherman

I've never been wrong. Except for when I thought I might be wrong. Even than, awww, dang it ... Thanks, Alle. I learned even more! :)

Cherie Grant

Alle, I have finally had enough. Where do you get off threatening Chanel and trying to bad mouth her in the industry? You know it wasn't that long ago that she was telling me she liked you as she had a soft spot for damaged people. Telling people in the industry to pass on someone just because you have some imagined perception of a nemesis relationship with her is petty and ridiculous. And you say all this under the guise of reasonableness? You really are a sandwich short of a picnic. The upside is that I and many other people don't believe you have any clout in the industry and your threats are laughable. And you do not nor ever have received thousands of compliments in any one day let alone a year. There you go embellishing to all and sundry to make yourself look good. You really do have major insecurity problems. You know I own horses and in the horse world it is known that the person who blows their own horn the most and tells everybody how hot shit they are and how they can train horses to do anything and get instant results and they ride like Alexander the Great usually are the dodgiest and most ridiculous people that have the least talent with the animals. What we know is that the quiet ones, the ones that do their job without telling the whole world how great they are and how admired they are are the ones you pay attention to. They usually are the first ones to tell you they don't know it all and still have much to learn. Usually they get constant work just by word of mouth and the best don't ever advertise. When I see your posts I think of one guy I had the misfortune to cross paths with who touted his talents to all and sundry and I very nearly sent a horse to him until I visited his home and saw what a twat he was. I felt truly sorry for his horses and the only reason he hadn't been killed up until then is he had the unlikely fortune to have purchased some very quite and tolerant creatures. I think with all your passive aggressiveness and veiled and not so veiled threats you will burn your own bridges and plenty of people in the industry will see you for the joke you are.

Steve Sherman

If I may interject ... I am a newbie and am learning from everyone here. But, I am not a newbie to blogging, forums and so forth. I appreciate and am learning from all who are posting here. I do hope that you all can refrain from the personal attacks, forgive each other and move on, keeping it positive. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

When a thread goes bad or things get petty sometimes the best thing to do is just click the "following" link and stop following. Life is too short. Yes, please, let's do move on. :)

Steven Michael

Amen Beth. Take it off line. If I want to see verbal sparring, I'd take my sisters to dinner.

Bee Devereux

If I want to be talked down to by an old guy I take my grandpa to dinner ;)

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Touche Cherie. The newbies don't get it yet.

Steven Michael

@Bee: Just trying to keep the conversation on topic for everyone's benefit. It doesn't seem like bashing each other accomplishes that end. BTW, you'll be older some day. If you don't like what Alle or anyone else writes here, ignore it. Personal or professional bashing is counterproductive. As for script doctors or consultants, I don't use them. Commercial films all look and sound the same to me, so why would I go to a pro who edits to that level? Distinctiveness is what I'm looking for. So c'mon, let's hear the rebuttals and really let me have it. This "newbie" can take anything you got.

Cherie Grant

don't worry steven i've said my piece and won't be continuing it here. but i wasn't bashing anyone I was defending someone and holding alle accountable for her words/actions. big difference. now back to the topic.

Chanel Ashley

I must confess, CJ, I've never heard the terms Screenplay Mechanic nor Script Gal, Hit Girl, perhaps, from Kick Ass, but not your latter - the beauty of this site, you learn something knew on a regular basis.

Chanel Ashley

Alle, I'm flattered I even rated a mention by one like yourself, who would have thought I'd made an impression, your Nemesis, no less, please, you do me too much honour - but, wait, there's more, I was mentioned in your 3 hour conf call to LA, to the point I've been black-banned in Hollywood - but there is redemption, you only know 1% in the film community in LA and I am given another opportunity with the remaining 99% - firstly, you fired the first shot criticising me - secondly, no one is in doubt re your amazing prowess, you remind us daily, if not hourly - thirdly, yes, you did read/compliment both my scripts and I thank you for taking the trouble, it's appreciated - you only read 3 pages, but hey, I appreciate you took the time, that has some currency with me - you have many good/positive things to say, Alle, but then you spoil yourself, and you know how, which is sad because you could be an asset to many members.

Chanel Ashley

I don't believe this thread went bad, a little heated perhaps - I see Alle as a character, one that polarises and I see this as a good/positive thing, one that creates discussion - sure, it over-heated a little, let's cool down and start afresh - we had these little skirmishes on Triggerstreet, they were great fun, the odd flashpoint, some great characters, but they were mostly squeezed out - you want sanitised squeaky clean, you want polite discussion, not a problem, try Triggerstreet - I would hate to see Alle disappear, she is great, though frustrating, entertainment - let's chill, have a laugh, let us continue with Script Consultant, or is that Script Doctor? Screenplay Mechanic? maybe Script Gal?

CJ Walley

I've been unclear. Screenplay Mechanic and Script Gal are branded script consultancy services; http://www.screenplaymechanic.com http://www.scriptgal.com Both come well recommended.

William Martell

I don't know what CJ was unclear about, but I would second both Mechanic and Gal. Both work in the business on the other side of the desk and people who have used them say nothing but good things. It's strange how some people doing consulting have never worked for a production company or sold a script or anything else. At some screenwriting event, there was a woman who charged $2,500 to read your script and had no background at all in the business. I think she was a college film teacher somewhere. Yikes! Like my friend Josh Olson, I will not read your effing script. I'm too busy writing my own.

Chanel Ashley

My apologies, CJ, I misunderstood, but thanks for the recommendations, writers here now have some excellent choice, thanks William for confirming the said consultants - what would you gentlemen, Danny included, deem an appropriate amount one should spend with a consultant - obviously, parameters requirements differ, but are we talking a range $100-500?

CJ Walley

Personally I don't think it's something you can put a price on and it's a service you can often tailor to your specification. I think one of the issues with script consultancy is it can be seen as a standardised service when it's really anything but. One consultant's knowledge and experience may be more valuable to a writer than another's. Then there's the issue of what every writer wants and needs. Some writers want help with fundamental writing craft while others need to take their screenplay to a more commercial level. I think it would be wise to take the highly recommended consultants and try their lower price services. For example Danny offers a $75 phone consultation on your first 35 pages. That gives you opportunity to see if you gel well with each consultant, see if they motivate you, get your style and tone, bring out the best in your writing, etc.

Steve Sherman

I appreciate the discussion here and have been pondering this. This topic and the responses have significantly affected my strategy going forward. Thank you, Chanel! My strategy already includes getting feedback as I develop my stable of screenplays from many would-be script doctors. A few I choose to produce myself to establish myself and gain some credibility (hence, "producer"). The remainder are being polished and submitted to a select few contests to get that kind of feedback. (That's a whole 'nuther discussion! Some contests offer GREAT feedback. Others, not so much. And, as it is highly subjective, the feedback you get is often contradictory.) So far, I've preferred getting feedback with the goal of getting placement in competitions as a starting point. My strategy has been enhanced per what I read in this topic. After the current round of contests completes (within the next few months), I now plan to use the "Happy Writers" offerings. I will be looking both for feedback on how to improve my screenplays (no such thing as a "finished" screenplay) as well as career guidance. FWIW, I have way too many original ideas for projects in the queue to finish in a lifetime, now. That's another reason for going the producer route. I figure that as I build credibility, the day will come when I may pass some of these on to others to develop. Or, depending on the partnerships I form, these may spawn new projects. In the meantime, I'm focused on one particular project which is taking a LOT of time, but that's what needs to happen to make it work. I worked with a producer for years and saw virtually NONE of MY dreams come true while helping him make HIS dreams come true. It was hard making the separation, but necessary. Now, things are moving! :)

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

I agree with you CJ... I personally give extra points to the consultant who is also a screenwriter when I'm shopping. Also Erik Bork, screenwriter, (Band of Brothers) also offers free 1/2 hr initial consultation. At least he did the last time I checked.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

I've read so many different threads that Alle's participated in and she always "brings an axe to the garden party".... quoting another member. Just sayin'.

Steven A. Miller

It appears as if there is an extremely high price to pay trying to improve your work and have your work seen. The costs for someone who works for living, has to put food on her/his family's table, pay the mortgage, etc... pile up. It isn't just script consultants or doctors that charge high prices for their "assistance", it's every part of this process. From the $39.00 webinars to the $50-$100 contests to the $395 to "read" your script. Everyone is a consultant or adviser or reviewer that possesses the magic formula for success. It makes you wish there was a Consumer Protection Bureau for budding screenwriters. Who can you trust? When you pay for anything are you getting good, honest evaluations and assistance or are you just another customer scanning a bar code and receiving boilerplate advice?

Steve Sherman

Per what Steven wrote ... I found that it is such a mixed bag getting feedback from contests. Blue Cat stands out as far as feedback goes. It's caused me to do major rewrites ... and LIKE IT. Consultation is next. Cha-ching ... Poor baby! Sorry about the black and blue bruises as we go into the red. Back into the wallet you go ...

CJ Walley

Steven, it doesn't have to be like that. With screenwriting you can download script writing software for free, borrow books from the library at zero cost, and query prodcos for nothing. That's before considering services like IMDB pro offering a free trial period, numerous blogs handing out free advice, and various message boards filled with valuable information at zero cost. Plus of course there's the fact we're conversing on a website which allows us to connect, communicate, promote profiles, upload portfolios, browse jobs, read through blogs and more all in exchange for nothing. Yes you can speculate a lot of money, and indeed you can easily get ripped off, but even then screenwriting offers a radically low barrier to entry and relatively massive potential reward. My day job is freelancing in a different trade and the cost of just software and advertising is eye watering. I know a lot of small business owners who have to risk so much more for their dreams.

Steven A. Miller

Thank you so much, CJ. I will look at IMDB. The question remains, however, is whether the message boards or blogs enable you to get reliable feedback or help the wannabe screenwriter get her/his material seen. I have the software and have read the books, but all of us need a second or third set of eyes to make sure we are getting it done right. The webinars, contests, and paid sites put forth the possibility of access that allegedly brings the cache' of "industry professionals." It sometimes as if you have to pay for entrance through the door.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Steven ... find a writer's group in your town. Then put it out there. Free feedback from other writers.

CJ Walley

Steven, I do empathise with that feeling. It's natural to feel that way. We crave validation and seek exposure. And it's a catch 22. The low barrier to entry into screenwriting means there is a monumental oversupply issue. But you can be your own toughest critic, you can network until you find alignment. There are people out there who have done it. For me personally, the best things have come for free. However, if I had the money, I'd be trying out everything I can.

Danny Manus

Alle, I thought the saying was those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't do or teach write novel size responses on stage 32 message boards and promote shitty 3 minute short films in Australia.... or maybe I should keep working on that.

Steven A. Miller

Thank you, Alle. I appreciate your honest and forthright communication. Danny: As a teacher and educator I must say that there are those that can do and teach. Sometimes, and it depends on the subject, it is better to be taught by those that have done it. In this field it appears as if that is exactly what is needed. There are so many different opinions about how to "make it" out there that learning from someone who has been able to navigate the minefields of this industry is a great asset. What would be even better is to have an honest editor/sounding board that will help you and your work reach its full potential. If you can find a person who has done it her/himself and can teach, then you would be in great shape.

Rachel Miranda Jones

You know, Alle, while I'm aware your threats (yes, they are threats) are completely toothless, I do find it interesting that your fantasies run so much towards abusing power- you know, like being able to blacklist someone over a minor internet spat. Nonetheless, though, your latest novel is, as always, pure comedy gold. Keep up the good work!

Beulah Jones

Steve, re:Alle. I agree 100%. Alle, where can I find a list of your films?

Cherie Grant

Jesus for their to be any tall poppy syndrome or jealousy from aussie writers they'd have to believe what you say Alle. the point of our posts to you is that non of us do. we can't be jealous if we don't believe there's anything to be jealous of. i know, i know, i wasn't going to say anything else, but you really take the cake alle.

Beulah Jones

How can I access your profile? I don't see the tool box

Robert Leslie Fallin

Well, Cheryl, I figure you deserve, at least, the honorary title of "Script Doctor," as I would not have made important changes in my "Tubular Romance" screenplay, had I not accepted your criticism and followed your suggestions. Thanks again.

Beulah Jones

The conculusion of Danny's post is lost. Please resubmit.

Chanel Ashley

You certain, Beulah? I thought he said enough and nailed, it, it still brings a smile.

Beulah Jones

okay, thanks

Rachel Miranda Jones

Hey guys, I just accidentally "liked" one of my own posts. Any way of fixing this? (Is an idiot.)

Cherie Grant

Rachel, surely if you wrote it you liked it.

Rachel Miranda Jones

Thanks, Andrew. I knew it had to be something simple. And Cherie, I don't think I liked it quite enough to publicly congratulate myself on it...

Chanel Ashley

Haha, come on, Rachel, bet you did, LOL.

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