How Tarantino Secures Useful Feedback for His Screenplays
It’s not the first time that I associate Quentin Tarantino and feedback. Last year I wrote a long post about how the then first time filmmaker received two drastically opposite type of feedback at the Sundance Lab while prepping for Reservoir Dogs, and the importance of sorting out emotional feedback versus constructive feedback.
During his conversation with Robert Rodriguez for The Director’s Chair, Quentin Tarantino shared his process after writing a screenplay.
Once he’s finished a draft, Tarantino has taken the habit to invite trusted friends and to read them the story out loud. And he does that each time he’s done with a new version.
Here is what he says about it:
Tarantino’s Technique to Receive Useful Feedback on His Screenplays
“Frankly, the only feedback I want is ‘that’s great’.
But the truth of the matter is, I’m doing it for two reasons, for one I’m excited about it, so I want to share it, but the real reason I’m doing it is that I could walk around my house, pace around and act it out forever and it will not help me any.
But if I read it to you, I’m hearing you through your ears, and so I hear the bad notes, I hear when I’m losing you, I hear when I got you, I hear the laughs. If I’m reading it to you I don’t need your feedback, because I’m hearing it through your ears.”
The technique of reading your own writing out loud has been one used by famous writers such as Flaubert, but they used to do it to themselves. It takes a brave soul to chose doing it in front of an audience in order to hear what’s wrong.
That said, if you can muster the courage to do it, I can see the benefits not only for improving the writing, but also for finding the story’s tone and later, while shooting, having a more accurate sense of where it should be going.