Monday, August 15, 2005

Dentistry & Scriptwriting

Now I'm not suggesting that there are eerie similarities between dentistry and scriptwriting but I've just been to my dentist, which got me thinking (as I stared just off-centre to avoid eye-contact with the dentist) about how a freelancer's daily routine can be thrown into turmoil just by one innocuous meeting. My teeth are okay by the way. I hadn't been in about 3/4 years (unless you're teeth are falling out, I think it's all a con). My front tooth is a bit sensitive but a glob of Sensodyne every night before I go to bed seems to do the trick. You probably didn't need to know that but it's out there now, so there you go.

Anyway, back to my tenuous link between dentistry & scriptwriting. The whole morning has been wasted by this half hour trip to the dentist. It was at 11am so it didn't give me much time to do some work beforehand and now it's too near lunch to be thinking about doing anything constructive. Last year, I had a meeting with the Head of Development at Working Title. A big meeting, for me at least. It was at 11am. So the morning is spent preparing for the meeting and travelling into London. I'm prepped, I'm psyched, I'm ready to rock. The meeting lasts all of ten minutes. A kind of polite nice-to-put-a-name-to-the-face meeting (I'm one of their readers) and a friendly "we'll gladly take a look at your script" before I'm shown the door. By the time I get home, it's lunch, but my mind is fantasising about the obscene amount of cash she's going to offer for my uber-script, and I surf the net looking at Done Deal ( My whole working day is gone because of a ten minute mid-morning meeting. Six months later, they reject my script.

To give this blog some sort of structure and appeal, I'm going to post a few of my observations about script reading in general. What I perceive to be the dos and don'ts, which differ a bit from the usual stuff you read about 'how to get past the script reader'. I'll also share how my own work is progressing, the ups and downs of what it's like to get a script optioned and then languish in development purgatory.

The first bit of advice that comes to mind is about your script's opening sequence. In a large batch of scripts I had to read once (quite possibly from the photo below), I read three scripts in a row that had the same opening sequence of: drifting through clouds, a voice-over kicks in or singing begins, and the camera glides towards the earth where the script reveals either the source of the singing or the beginning of the narrator's tale. Now I'm not standing on my Moses bush and saying 'you must not open your script in this way' but in the spec script market, you may want to consider something more original to catch the reader's eye. I think American Beauty opened with this kind of sequence ("Hello my name is Lester Burnham" as the camera glides over his neighbourhood) but at least that had the intriguing voice-over hook of "In a week, I'll be dead". Also, to avoid my own advice, I opened one of my scripts in this exact manner - or more precisely, Earth seen from space before we hurtle towards it to meet our hero and begin the story - but while it was perfectly acceptable for the tone and genre of the script, it was immediately rewritten for the next draft.

If anyone has any insider tips or questions, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.



james henry said...

Actually, a list of top ten cliched script openings you've seen might be handy. As long as none of them are mine, obviously...

Danny Stack said...

Excellent suggestion. Coming up!

David Skul said...

How to pick a dentist

Dentistry can be frightening for may people. A large number of people have sad or scary stories about the dentist. It just takes one bad dentist to start a person on a self destructive path of avoidance and tooth decay. Many of the dentally fearful ask the same question. What is the easiest and best way to choose a dentist? Following a simple process of selection is best. Making the decision structure simple is the key to get ting back in the dentists’ chair and getting back on the road to a healthy and pain free smile. Using the following criteria while making dentistry choices will simplify your decisions.

A recommendation from your existing dentist, a friend, or family member can be useful.

You might ask your current dentist if he knows of any good dentists. Often, dentists maintain personal and professional relationships with other dentists around the country, and your dentist might be able to recommend a good dentist he knows of. Also friends and family members can provide very good insight into skills, office esthetics, and professional treatment. They can also help you to become more comfortable about the pain levels and sensitivity to certain environmental factors. Another good thing about a recommendation from friends or family is that you can assess the general cost structure before sitting in the chair.

What should you look for in a new dentist?

You can ask friends and neighbors for their recommendations. You should also look for a dentist who has a friendly staff that is easy to communicate with. Your dentist should be able to handle your particular dental history, but should also offer preventative dentistry, and do periodic examinations of your teeth and gums, along with at least yearly x-rays. They should encourage periodic appointments for routine teeth cleaning. The environment should be clean and stress free. The staff should always be friendly and receptive to your needs. If the staff or the dentist thinks you are being a baby when you tell them of your fears or apprehensions then simply leave and find another dentist.

Watch out for these warning signs.

Keep an eye out for flashy advertising, dentists who advocate cosmetic dentistry above preventative dentistry, and twilight sleep as the ideal technique of surgery. Also watch out for dentists that seem worried with diagnosing other illnesses besides those associated with teeth and gums. Dentists who practice holistic dentistry or those who depend on vitamin sales to boost their income are very bad and can actually set your dental health back. Be careful of a dentist that does not listen. If your dentist prefers extraction over saving a tooth then you might have a problem. Also, if you have a dentist who is offended if you get a second opinion then cut and run.

You should get acquainted first

Most dentists will happily schedule a consultation visit so you can meet the dentist and their staff, and decide then if this is the right dentist for your teeth and personal needs. If a dentist is not willing to schedule a visit like this, they probably are not the dentist for you. It is not very difficult to select a new dentist. You just need to understand what you looking for and not be afraid to ask some questions. If you understand some of the things to look for in a new dental practice, then your selection should be fairly easy. There are plenty of health related reasons to go to the dentist. You can make all of them available to you to use when you choose to follow a strict regimen of dentistry. You should go out and find a new dentist quickly and easily to preserve your beautiful smile.

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