How to Handle Notes on Your Script: Types of Notes and What They Mean

Hosted by Anna Henry, TV Executive

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Anna Henry, TV Executive

Webinar hosted by: Anna Henry, TV Executive

(Worked with CBS, ABC, Amazon, Starz, Sony, 20th Television)

Anna began her 20-year career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, working on the development and production of animated television series, pilots and features, including the cult hit “Invader Zim.” She crossed overto prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming, and freelanced as a creative consultant for a number of production companies. She was most recently Director of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Her clients have worked on shows at virtually every broadcast and major cable television network, and have set up projects at ITV America, Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. As a script consultant, she enjoys having a close collaboration with writers in refining scripts, expanding their range of material, and finding the best home for each project. Anna is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

“I have some notes” is perhaps the most dreaded phrase writers hear. “Here it comes… they want to change everything; they want to destroy my masterpiece!” And yet, you the writer, asked for these notes. “They read and they didn’t pass! They want to work with me!” Or, “they read – and yeah, they’re right, I need to rethink this, it will be better if I change it.”

Film and television are the ultimate collaborative medium. You write alone (or in a team), but to make the final product, the work of dozens to hundreds of people is required, and they all have some contribution to make. And the work is a product to be sold to buyers and an audience, and they get a say in what they want to purchase and consume. Screenwriting is also the ultimate iterative process. No script is ever perfect on the first draft, and scripts evolve and grow even during production itself. So you will be receiving notes – lots and lots and lots of them. Some you will ask for, perhaps pay for: notes from other writers, professional consultants, managers and agents. Some you will hope for: producers, executives, directors and stars. Some you will agree to: showrunners, studio and network executives. And some will remind you that necessity is the mother of invention: from line producers, casting directors, set dressers, and costume designers.

But what should you do with those notes? How to take the sting and how to accept them as a gift? How to think about executing them when you agree, and what to do when you don’t? And most importantly, what do all those terms mean? Some of them sound like some sort of spy code: expo dump, let it breathe, contrived, mining, building, leaning, rules of the universe, on the nose and come in later – say what? In this webinar we will pull back the curtain on the notes process, discuss how to take notes, how to begin to address them, and what notegivers really mean by all those terms.

What You'll Learn

  • How to accept notes with professionalism and grace (without running to your therapist)
  • Who should you ask for notes and what do professional notes look / sound like; what kinds of notes to expect from people with different jobs
  • Types of notes, how to think about them and how to look for patterns – and the terminology used to communicate them:
    • Structure
    • Plot, build, stakes, dynamics
    • Character
    • Exposition
    • Logic and clarity
    • Cuts and keeps
    • Too much or too little
    • Action lines
    • Dialogue
    • Scene notes
    • Production
    • Suggestions and alternatives
    • Vague notes
    • Nitpicky notes
  • How and when to push back on notes (aka how not to sell your soul nor lose your job)

 

 

About Your Instructor

Anna began her 20-year career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, working on the development and production of animated television series, pilots and features, including the cult hit “Invader Zim.” She crossed overto prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming, and freelanced as a creative consultant for a number of production companies.

She was most recently Director of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Her clients have worked on shows at virtually every broadcast and major cable television network, and have set up projects at ITV America, Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. As a script consultant, she enjoys having a close collaboration with writers in refining scripts, expanding their range of material, and finding the best home for each project. Anna is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

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Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

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