Film Courage: Potential pitfalls or traps a screenwriter should be aware of when trying to sell their screenplay?
Kathie Fong Yoneda: Pitfalls…I think the biggest one is don’t try and make your project be one of those where you’re forcing, trying to force it into being what they think the studio wants or what that production company wants. That’s a big pitfall for me because then somewhere along the line I think you sometimes will lose the heart of what your project is.
I know a lot of times they will ask for requests to do something to it and you do need to, if they bought it, it is their project and so I think a lot of writers sometimes immediately are very protective of their project and they don’t and they say well yeah I’ll sell it to you but you cant do this or you know I mean that’s sort of a first reaction.
What they have to understand is they’ve got stockholders usually that they have to answer to and when money is involved there are some changes they have to make.
I think when you’re just in the talking stages sometimes writers make the biggest mistake is when they start being too concerned about all of that. And I want them to understand it’s good to listen first to what they have to say before reacting immediately and jumping all over it.
I think you need to listen to what people have to say and then talk it over with your agent or talk it over with creative executives there (which is the kind of work I used to do). And a lot of times I had to explain to them the reason why they asked for a certain change. Maybe it was because of budget? A lot of times it’s because maybe they got a director and the director maybe didn’t like a certain aspect of it? Or maybe it was an actress or an actor and maybe their acting range doesn’t cover sufficiently the emotional impact of a certain scene?
I mean there’s a lot of reasons that people don’t understand about it. So if you are fortunate enough that somebody is optioning or buying your project and they are asking for things, it’s not because they don’t like it. They want to see it get made and sometimes it’s because of certain reasons and you need to sit down and talk to somebody about it…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
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