I went into a meeting with a director some time ago not at all sure I could deliver the kind of script he was looking for. I could have told him so. I nearly did. The script he wanted me to rewrite had fairly serious problems -- several movies going on inside it, most of them pretty hokey or more suited for TV. I wasn't positive he saw the confusion; I wasn't at all sure he saw the hoke.
But instead of voicing my concerns, I asked him "What is the heart of this movie, for you?" Then I listened. And then I pitched him back a movie that centered on what he'd just said, ignoring all the stuff from the previous script that wasn't part of what he'd just said was the heart of the movie.
He liked it. We're going to submit the new pitch to the Funding Powers That Be, and see what they think.
Had I opened my mouth first, we'd have got off on the wrong foot, and I might have walked away from a movie that, now that I've repitched it, is actually a pretty cool idea, I think.
So try not to say no. Don't criticize. Just grab the stuff that works and say, "here's what I think you might be looking for."
Good post and good point! We're always too quick to say no, but it's always good to listen first -- something I always need to work on. :-) Good luck with the Funding Powers.
You're a brilliant oral and written communicator, Alex. Good luck getting the moula for this project.
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