As a screenwriter, you know that writing a screenplay is a magical process. It is more than a template to film a movie. The first thing screenwriting does is impact a producer. Without this connection, your screenplay won’t move forward.
It all starts with an initial reaction on whether they liked it or not. It’s purely guttural and instinctive. As a film producer progresses through subsequent reads, the process becomes more academic. This initial response is similar to synchronous breathing with a screenplay. There is a subconscious expansion and contraction phase as a film script draws in and hooks a reader. It could be a theme, snappy dialogues, something they could reasonably produce or set up elsewhere, or resonate with them on based on a personal experience.
Next, a producer must process identify exactly what the screenwriter is trying to express in their movie. A screenplay expression relates to how the action, character and plot service the concept and theme. Is there a unique take on the material? The expression also relates to the format. Is it a feature, TV series or web series? It is a more intellectual and emotional response to a screenplay.
This is a structural question which relates to the initial reactions to your screenplay. Do the elements of your script offset each other? Are there enough quiet moments to offset the action or serious moments to counterbalance the comedy? Do the main characters occupy appropriate amounts of time and have clear common and shared goals?
Interpretation is the next step. This is when a film producer must decide how they feel about the screenplay and align these feelings with what the writer intended. An interpretation is a subjective overlay of their own views of the screenwriting.
Projection is an even more subjective form of script reading. It occurs when a producer infuses their own perspective onto a film or TV script. Projection can be personal or practical. Personal projection occurs when a reader inserts their own moral, thematic and plot perspective onto a screenplay. A practical projection relates to the practical aspects of filmmaking; budget, location and talent as well as how a project aligns with a producer’s production slate.
This is essentially a visualization and aesthetic exercise. Is the screenplay a film or TV project? What will it look like? Who will be the audience? What is the genre? What emotions are stimulated? What is the color palette and overall visual style? These are very creative decisions made during the reading process. Somewhere around this point the producer is more inclined to either put the project into development or set it up for production.
These are the most intellectual decisions. They include tightening the script for clarity, logic, tonal and thematic consistency and budgetary concerns. The producer may have talent or investors in mind, so they may require additional drafts to tailor the screenplay to their tastes.