Andy takes first hit at this…
There’s a lot of ‘creative difference’ here at Rich Teasers, but it hasn’t led to a fractious feud of call screening, social media un-friending and mutual no-eye-contacting at beer meets and barbecues. It comes from learning that in spite of those differences and the impediments other writers might identify in the practice, “collaboration” isn’t such a dirty word after all.
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Introduce yourselves as a writing ‘team’ to some script scribblers and they adopt the kind of expression one does when handed a Tupperware box of raw giblets and sick. They don’t agree with it, you see. It doesn’t work. It stifles creativity or makes the pure idea an ugly hodgepodge of half-formed characters and cross-purpose narratives. Reactions oscillate between ‘mildly perplexed’ and ‘Westboro Baptist’:
- “So who does the writing and who makes the tea?”
- “Oh, so you’re the brains? And you must be… the other one?”
- “Do you settle plot arguments on a dice roll or with swords?”
- “They were shaving people’s heads for that sort of thing back in the day.”
- “God will not long suffer this rank sorcery… OUT, ACCURSED DEVIL, OUT…!!“
the assumption being that any genuine gold we may have mined between us will inevitably dilute down through argument and obstinacy into a patchwork jumble that succeeds only in missing its own point.
But it never does. We collaborate on every piece of writing at Rich Teasers – we always have. Howsoever the seed of an idea germinates and grows into a thick-rooted, castle-bearing beanstalk, it does so in the knowledge that the collaborative aspect of its development has made it a stronger thing than it would have been if nurtured alone: now it’ll bear a castle and an adjoining Waitrose.
WRITER: Hey, I hear you guys write together?
RT: That’s right. Hi, we’re…
WRITER: YOU F*@!ING DISGUST ME…!!
Knowing each other for such a long time certainly helps but it doesn’t guarantee that twin-like synchronicity of cause-and-effect where one of us walks into a door and the other gets a bloody nose. We still have wildly different ideas about what makes characters and circumstances engaging and worthy of further exploration. Rather, it’s a ‘trust thing’ that turns our creative differences into useful development tools. We trust that however much our raw and vulnerable newborn ideas are prodded and poked at, the consequences of sharing will always be rewarding, surprising and definitive. Neither of us worry that our beautiful bouncing babes will be slighted in the same fashion as the rancid Tupperware box – and perhaps that’s what separates us from some of the resolute lone-wolves out there…?
More and more, we draw on our differences to create opportunities, the legacy of which is a confidence to share and a determination to explore any idea from any angle to find that ‘buzz’ that puts us in the same creative groove. When Rich initially pitched My First Week [see LOGLINES] as a rom-com, I was staring into the sick and giblets, gently humming “The Girl From Ipanema” and climbing aboard the mind train to Happyplace. But as averse to the genre as I am, I knew Rich would have a take on it that’d beat most others all ends up and that he’d trust me enough to know that ‘working on it’ wouldn’t mean chucking the whole thing on the fire first. The result was an idea that had us both hooked and which had its entire storyline fixed by the end of the same afternoon. How very different things would’ve been if Rich had wrapped his kid in cotton wool and kept mum. How very different my own drafts would be without the collaborative cherry-topping they’ve all finished with.
This attitude of openness has also held us in good stead when it comes to the kind of conversations we want to be having as screenwriters: conversations with film makers.
The director loves your script – loves it – but after circulating it around her equally admiring team of battle-ready movie makers, she thinks there’s some adjustments you should make to really nail this sucker to the wall. You could snatch up the prized manuscript and tell her and her team of sycophantic ingrates that they wouldn’t know gold if they were left to drown in an Olympic-sized pool of the stuff… or you could accept that even gold needs a good solid buff to accentuate that mesmerising dazzle and crack on with your edits. After all (and with apologies to Ernest Hemingway), while the first draft of everything might not always be sh*t, it’ll never be the one that gets to actually be something. And yours may not be the only footprints in the sand.
Over to Rich…
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[Do you write with others or are you a creative Greta Garbo? Have your collaborative efforts improved your end products or left you wishing you’d pushed on alone? We’d love to hear about your experiences so comment away or tweet us at @RTscripts]