by Jenni Ruiza & Jesenia
In the beginning:
A concept comes to you. You put pen to paper and are on a roll. Now, you’ve got a complete script full of story lines and characters and ups and downs and twists and turns! You feel confident that it’s ready to be filmed right away! A writers’ biggest mistake (and often those who are new to the industry) is to immediately cast actors and start filming, just to see their work come to fruition. Why not, right? That’s all it takes, right?
NOPE – WRONG! You’re missing one of the MOST IMPORTANT steps to the writing process, and that is – WORKSHOPPING YOUR SCRIPT! Creating the product is the first step – but developing that product into something that speaks to the audience(s) that you’re trying to reach is one of THE MOST important steps!
Why? Because workshopping your script will allow you to hear what all artists fear most – criticism! Albeit constructive, in order to better your work and to further develop your product for maximum grown and the utmost quality possible. Criticism is often the easiest and most helpful way to achieve a strong, solid project worth distribution, branding, and the attention of those hard-to-reach executives who could possibly offer sponsorship and perhaps, a production deal. After all, the entertainment industry is BUILT on criticism – so get used to it – because you’re going to get it A LOT!
So now what?:
You have one of two choices – close yourself and your product in and not accept any form of criticism because you don’t care what other people think (dumb), OR, workshop your work to honest and talented writers and actors and be willing to hear out ALL critiques, suggestions, add-ins and character development ideas (smart).
Yes, it does sound scary – but when it’s coming from people who are in your corner and are passionate about you as an artist and a creator – the possibilities are LIMITLESS and extremely beneficial to your product. Without your work being workshopped by professionals and to those of your target audience, you are speaking to one person: YOURSELF!
How to workshop:
Call a meeting of the minds – with those that you truly respect in your field! If it’s a comedy that you are working on, you’re going to workshop it to comedic writers/actors/producers/directors – same with drama or fantasy or action or porn, if that’s what you’re in to! LOL! It doesn’t need to be many people, hell it could just be ONE – it just has to be people that you trust will give you HONESTY.
In a workshop, it’s important to include a full cast reading so you, your actors and your guests can hear everything out loud and LIVE. So, if you have people in mind to play specific characters, GREAT, invite them to read for parts during your workshop. It’ll be great to hear what they feel about their individual characters as well. Trust, it helps!
Make sure to take LOTS OF NOTES – this will enable you to remember the things you want to add or eliminate. At the end of the day – you as the creator, have the LAST WORD, the FINAL SAY.
You are the ALPHA and the OMEGA of your product, so it is your choice to allow yourself to accept suggested improvements, or ignore it and move on. It’s always your choice.
What we learned:
After writing an entire web series season of 10 episodes together, but with the two of us being the sole writers on this team – we knew we’d need other eyes and ears to hear the message of each episode. So we workshopped, more than once, and were able to develop 10 episodic scripts that, by the feedback we received, are strong and FAN WORTHY.