Angelo Bell: First Impressions of the Lousy Kind


by Angelo Bell, Writer, Producer

Like most writers, I am a lousy at proofing my own work. I am far too familiar with it to realize that I’ve skipped a letter, or a word. Often my brain finishes sentences that are incomplete on the page. Like the old saying goes, “I do my best proofing after I’ve hit the send button.” Oops.

I had a wake up call today. I’ve been working with an EP who has consistently shown interest in a project that is destined for a bigger budget. I tried to keep the budget in the low seven figures range in order to keep myself attached as director. However, she rightfully acknowledged and suggested that I put aside that pipe dream, step into the producer’s arena and pump up the budget to mid-eight figures. As someone who’s been working with budget in the micro- and low-budget range, I didn’t require a lot of convincing.

Like any smart producer, I suggested that my contact also take a look at a script for a possible made-for-TV project. Silly me. I knew that the script had undergone several major rewrites and hadn’t been given a take-no-prisoners proofing. My big budget feature film project had undergone rigorous critiques and spelling checks. I was 99% confident that it was flawless. I wasn’t so sure about the MOW. Still, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get two scripts into her hands.

I kicked myself when the EP responded within a day saying, “Good story but can see it’ll need another pass before it’s ready – typos, spellos, dropped sentences, etc.” Ugh! I was mortified. In the back of my mind I screamed, “Why didn’t she read the perfect script first?” But, I knew the truth. It was my fault. I blew my opportunity to make a powerful first impression with my writing. I was lazy. If I’d just gotten another pair of eyes on the script, it would have been ten times better. Now, I was looking at a rejection, a potential rewrite and a potentially unfavorable review of my feature film project.

A good first impression is as close to perfection as we’ll ever get. A poor first impression means you didn’t live up to your potential. It still sucks but it’s one step above offending the poor woman’s sensibilities, as happens during a bad first impression. Understanding this compelled me to make a vow. No work ever leaves my hands (or my sent email folder) without being 100% pristine.

There will be no more errors, no more regrets, no missed opportunities, no fright after realizing the first scene on the first page has three typos. I love writing, and I hate proofing. Unfortunately, proofing is a necessary evil in this business of writing for our supper.

Write good.