Torpedo review

by Suw on May 31, 2004

Screenplay1 is still going through the review process at Zoetrope, and I have had my first proper torpedo review – a review designed almost entirely to knock the wind from your sales and sink your battleship, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor.
I had thought that I was a pretty thick-skinned writer. I’ve written a lot professionally, and I’ve dealt with all sorts of criticism from all sorts of people, but never have I been on the receiving end of quite so much sarcasm and bile. The frustrating thing is that, amidst the 4,200 words of bitterness, I have a sneaking suspicion that there might actually be some useful nuggets of information.
Of course, the point of putting the script up for review is to get reactions from a variety of people and to actively look for weaknesses, but it’s a bit much when one has to wade through page after page of twistedness in order to find them.
I’ve had a few other reviews, including a glorious ‘10/10’ review and another 4,000+ word epic which was the most detailed and constructive review I’ve ever had. However, I’ve had to re-evaluate my opinion of my own ability to deal with criticism after the torpedo job. I had thought I was thick-skinned, but it turns out that I need to work on that whole not-giving-a-shit thing a little bit more.
In retrospect, I really don’t care what this guy thinks about my script, but it’s taken me a few days to come to that conclusion, and it will be a few days more before I can read his review without wanting to smack him. Beyond that, I need to put a bit more effort into culturing a greater degree of objectivity, so that I can read the script as others would, and hopefully see the flaws that need to be corrected before I let it loose into the big wide (unforgiving) world.
After all, t'ain’t no use tryin’ ta be a screenwriter if ya can’t take a few knocks, eh?

Anonymous June 1, 2004 at 3:50 am

People who slam hard without thought for the person on the other end have their own problems. Often it's a simple matter of them failing to realise that there's a person on the other end of their critique, a basic failure to empathise. Unfortunately, without non verbal clues (upset expression, or a swift kick in the arse) many people simply don't realise that their words might be causing offence.
With that lack of basic empathy in mind, it might help for you to think about how good they must be as a screenwriter, and evaluate their critique with that in mind.

Anonymous June 1, 2004 at 8:27 am

Yes, you're quite right – always consider the source. One think that was a bit telling was the fact that this guy has entered over 200 reviews on Zoe, but just one screenplay. Apparently I am not the only one to suffer a scathing review, so I am guessing that he no longer has the cojones to post a new one because there's over 200 people out there baying for blood.
The thing that annoyed me most, though, was not his motivation for writing such a crappy review, but the fact that for a while I let it dent my confidence. But I guess it's all part of the process, really. I'll get more thick-skinned the more of this stuff that I do.

Anonymous June 1, 2004 at 9:05 am

I wonder who isn't writing a screenplay these days…
Anyway, Suw, take the Zoetrope reviews–good, bad, and indifferent with a large grain of salt. I've been there, and done that. The benefits of peer-reviewed screenwriting is debatable.

Anonymous June 1, 2004 at 2:30 pm

Suw, I think the guy who wrote that review was in my screenwriting class last year. 😉 His name wouldn't be JD, would it? Hehehehehe.

Anonymous June 1, 2004 at 3:57 pm

Whoever the guy is, he's a twerp. It's a bloody good screenplay, and I'm praying hard somebody picks it up, because I wanna see it on the big screen! Preferably with Johnny Depp in a major role 😉
Kate, pom-pom girl

Anonymous June 3, 2004 at 12:44 pm

Well, I've had some very useful reviews, and some less useful reviews. Some people have managed to point out weaknesses that I hadn't noticed, but it's always important to put it all in perspective and remember that these are just people's opinions. That's all the industry is made of, really, so it's all par for the course.

Anonymous June 3, 2004 at 12:45 pm

Heh, there's one in every class/workshop/production company/etc. 😉

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