I recently had a fun conversation with our immensely knowledgeable nerd consultant, Mr. Cody Dobbs. We were talking about the opportunities that social media provides to small business marketing and how we could learn from that. At one point Cody joked that if we could turn ourselves into a meme or tie ourselves to bacon and cats then we would be on easy street. I wasn't sure we wanted to be the first and I had no idea how we related to the second. But, rather than be discouraged by that fact, I joked to Cody that I thought we could do it. So here we are.
Before I get to that though, let's actually talk about screenwriting. I belong to a few screenwriting message boards. For the most part I find them to be very good tools. I have learned a lot from them and I have interacted with a lot of great professionals. That doesn't mean they don't provide endless sources of amusement and professional frustration. I'm talking about the posts I like to call, "What the (blank) were you thinking and please be quiet for your own sake." The latest example of one of these posts comes from a person who thinks they know a way to make a certain big name screenplay scouting service more fair and unbiased. When I'm talking fair and unbiased I mean that he took the time to come up with a multi-step process and mathematical computation to take all perceived bias out of script grading and reviewing. I'll let that take a moment to sink in as well as humbly suggest that maybe that time would have been better spent working on fixing his script that most obviously must not have received the best of reviews. The fatal flaw in his thinking is, of course, that writing is an art form. Just like any other art, a person's taste in writing is subjective. There is absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, no way that you can make judging them an unbiased and completely even science.
To prove this point, let me offer you an example... bacon. That's right, bacon. Bacon should be entirely non-subjective. It is a specific cut of meat from a specific animal. There should be no getting around it. Bacon is bacon. Ah, but how do you like your bacon? Do you like it baked, cooked on a skillet or breaded and deep fried? Do you like the strips or the fattier ends and pieces. Thick cut or regular cut? Maple bacon, pepper bacon or regular bacon? Do you even like bacon? What are your thoughts on turkey bacon? How well done do you like your bacon? Have you ever tried bacon on a doughnut? Do you like it charred and extra crisp or still greasy and barely cooked to just be able to call cooked? You can see where this is going. My mother-in-law and I disagree on this (shocker) every time we cook bacon for a family meal. She accuses me of liking it so under cooked that it still has botulism in it. I accuse her of cooking, nay burning it, to the point that it no longer has flavor. Are either of us right? Yes, we both are. We are also both wrong (her more than me). But bacon is not something you can take and say "It shall be cooked in medium sized, no extra flavoring strips on the skillet, turning twice, and only twice, until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees." That won't make everyone happy. In fact, it will probably only make 6% of the people out there happy.
It is the same with a script. If there was a fair and objective way to attack each script in order to make sure they are all judged fairly, that would mean that each script would be of the same genre with the same plot points, characters and endings. It's not that way (thank goodness). We all like different things. We like different genres and we hate different genres. I've had scripts get perfect scores in competitions and get trashed by a different judge in the same competition. We had one script get blown out of the water one year. The next year we threw it back into the same competition without even making a single change (We were feeling cheeky on the final deadline day and threw it in because, "Why not?"). It placed in the top 100 and received multiple read requests and manager meetings. Was the first judge wrong? Was the second judge drunk? No. They just liked different things. I'm not going to change their minds. I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to move down the road to the next person. All of those rejections don't mean a thing when the right person says "yes".
And to thank you for taking the time to read this whole article, here is a picture of a cat typing what we can only assume is a screenplay better than ours. Boom! Two for two, Cody.