Thursday, July 19, 2012

Of "Recommends"

Paul writes in with two questions:

1)  As a reader, if you want to "recommend" a script but have doubts how it will be received by your boss(es), do you play safe and only "consider" it?

I've covered this before but it bears repeating, "Recommends" are incredibly rare.  If I give a Recommend to a script, it means I'm telling everyone in the company to drop everything immediately and read this right away.  I'm saying "This isn't just better than anything else that has come through these doors, it's completely flawless and objectively brilliant."

As you might guess, few scripts meet that criteria.  "Recommend" means that you're over the moon for this script.  "Consider" is when you pick up a girl at the bar who's pretty cute, maybe even really cute.  "Recommend" is when you pick up Brooklyn Decker.

Do you know how hard it is to walk into a bar and find a Brooklyn Decker?  That's how hard it is to find a Recommend.  I don't think I've EVER given a Recommend, and that's not just because I'm scared of the reaction from my bosses, it's because I've never found a script I'm in that love with.

2)  And do you only look at scripts your boss would be interested in?  What do you do with scripts that you would "recommend" but know your boss(es) aren't looking for said material?

Hypothetically, if I came across a script that was boiling over with brilliance, but it was completely wrong for the bosses I was reading for, I'd still give it a Consider.  I might - MIGHT - give a "Recommend" on the writer, because if a script is that good, clearly the writer is doing something right.  Maybe this particular concept or story is wrong for the company, but it'd be worth flagging this writer in case he had something that would work for us.

I'd find it really hard to PASS on a script that was extremely well-written.  A competent script that was a mismatch? Yeah, I could easily pass on that.  "Competence" isn't good enough.  Think of it like American Idol.  Usually all or most of the top 12 are at least competant vocalists and still better than the average Joe - but how many of them are superb?  How many of them would you buy an album from?  How many of them would stand out on the radio?

If you want to get a Recommend, you can't just be the 9th place vocalist in a nationwide talent search.  You've gotta be Kelly Clarkson or Adam Lambert.


  1. Follow ups...

    1. You really can't think of a 'recommend' you've ever given?

    2. About how many new movies released per year would you say you find to be 'amazing?' Or that are at least amazing-enough where, if you received a script of said movie as is, you would categorize as a 'recommend?'

    3. Have you ever seen a movie you thought was amazing, and it was based on a script you gave a 'pass,' or a 'weak consider?' I don't mean one that then had heavy rewrites, of course. But one where the draft you read was pretty close to the shooting script?

    4. Have you ever given a pass to a script upon initially turning in your coverage, only to find yourself still thinking about it much later? This happens to me fairly often with movies. I might think it's bad at first, but then after it's had time to digest, I realize I really like it a whole lot.

    I actually think this is a pretty common occurrence with movies. The best movies, the ones that really cut me deep, they require time to reflect on them. I didn't know exactly how I felt about THE GODFATHER immediately after the credits started rolling. I needed a while, a long while, to process everything.

    Now every reader is different just like every audience member in a theater is different, but isn't the habit most readers employ--writing coverage as soon as they finish reading, if not already starting coverage whilst still reading--counter-intuitive to recognizing 'brilliant' scripts like that?

    I'm not questioning your ability to do your job and I'm certainly not questioning whether every script you pass on is as brilliant as THE GODFATHER. I worked as a reader briefly, not long enough to ever have to answer these questions myself, but since I'm OCD they were constantly flying through my head as potential scenarios, and so I'm wondering what a veteran reader such as yourself thinks about them.

  2. In my 6 years as a reader, I gave a total of 5 recommends. Two of those ended up being terrible movies, one of them ended up being a really good movie, and the other two never got made.

    1. Were they awful because of later rewrites?

    2. One was awful because of later rewrites that completely ruined the script, which were made at the demand of the A-list star of the film. The other was kind of a train wreck of production, as I understand; there were some weird casting choices, and the movie sat on a shelf for a while.