Writing a short film script usually leads to some kind of tunnel vision. Which is why if you’re not working with a script editor, it’s vital to get feedback on your script. You can then do a few feedback-based rewrites before you pitch it to a producer.
Friends and family are the most accessible people to get feedback from, but they can often be too polite. They’ll be worried about hurting your feelings, which stops them from giving honest answers.
Here’s my system for getting past that so you get useful, relevant feedback when you’re writing your short film script.
3 steps to getting past the polite dishonesty
Start by making a list of friends/family that have interest in your films and the themes of this script.
Having an interest means they’ll have an opinion, and it’s that opinion we want to get.
Relate the script and story to each person you’re asking for feedback from.
This is doubly useful for you, because it also gets you to step away from your idea, and see your writing from other people’s perspectives.
When you send over the script, provide a few specific questions.
It’ll help them to zero in on your script, and get straight to their reaction to your writing.
Get to the point
Maybe it’s just because I’m British, but it’s easy to amble around the point for a l o n g time before actually getting to the point.
But if you start the conversation by being reserved and indirect, that’s exactly what you’ll get in return. Which means you won’t have direct, honest feedback on your script.
So start by sending a quick message along the lines of:
Hey, I’m writing a short film script about [theme, message, point]. I know you’re interested in [something related to your script], so I was wondering if you’d like to read it and let me know what you think?
If they’re interested in reading it, go into a bit of background on the script. Why you wrote it, what inspired you, what the main message/point is & who you want to watch the finished film.
This will give them more of a sense of the project, and what the finished product you’re aiming for is.
That way, when they’ve finished reading it, they’ll be able to compare the current draft to your original aims. They can then let you know if you’ve fallen short.
Questions to ask about your script
Keep questions minimal, around 3-5.
And don’t forget to make them direct. If a 5 year old couldn’t understand what you’re asking then it’s not direct enough.
Base your questions on the main points you need feedback on.
These are usually the story, the characters, the message/meaning and general feeling about the script.
Were you interested in the story?
Did you finish reading it quickly?
What did you think of the characters?
What do you feel is the main message of the script?
Is this a film you’d want to watch?
And, as a final point for good measure, remind them that any feedback won’t be taken personally and is intended to be taken on board to make the script better.
You can also offer a special thanks in the credits, which creates a sense of professionalism that will inspire direct, serious feedback.