Development Hell

If you’re an industry person, you may have heard this term or used it–development hell. Development hell refers to the often chaotic, messy, frustrating business of getting a script ready to go into pre-production.  No script comes to a producer perfect and camera ready.

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Draft 1

We like the script, but there are few things that we need to change.  Here is what we want changed:  add this character, expand another character, take away the annoying mom character–and can you get this down to 90 pages?

Draft 2

This wasn’t what we had in mind.  You know,  I had this really great idea for some comic relief at the beginning, since it’s a heavy drama…

Draft 3

This is a mess.

Draft 4

Why is the subplot so much more interesting than the main plot?  Should we go a different direction?

Draft 5

We should go a different direction.

Draft 6

Is this too political?

Draft 7

It’s coming together, but we need to find a compelling role for (insert expensive actor’s name here).

Draft 8

Repeat process, starting above.

 

Churchill said,

“If you’re going through hell, keep on going.”

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Hollywood’s Problem Starts in High School

The success of Wonder Woman and the live action Beauty and the Beast has generated a great deal of discussion about women in cinema and woman-centric narrative.  A Variety article pointed out, though, that despite record box office, women, “made up only 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016. That represented a decline of two percentage points from the year before.”  Without getting too heady or too political, I need to point out that women’s narratological problems start off long before a screenplay gets optioned by the studios and directors are hired.  It starts in high school, with the ways we are taught narrative structure.

Read more on Mogul.