Collaboration in the Film Industry

None of us live in a bubble. Neither does the creative process.

In movies, the development of the story is usually the longest part of the process. It makes sense, really. At this stage, there are the fewest number of people involved and that translates into lower cost (at least initially). Think about it. A change in story when all is being typed can cost very little to redo. Make some changes after drawings are done or worse yet, after animation and you are talking about a lot of people and their time. That equals a lot more money.

Surprisingly, the latter still does happen AND it does cost a lot of extra moola.

So, it is good to have a few people involved in the story process right from the beginning. This small group can be anywhere from 2 to 6 or so. I am a major fan of this type of collaboration.


See, I think as a writer/director, you should have a TRULY unobstructed vision on what you want. It does not mean that you know every single nuance and every single frame BUT it does mean that you know the type of story you want to tell and what direction you want to take it.

Having collaborators allows a simple expansion of the writer’s brain. It allows the “creator” more options – most of which will not work but some will expand the story or even spawn other ideas to further it. These collaborators can also find some inherent problems that because you, the writer, are too close to it, may not see.

Collaborators=better story.


there are times when there can be too many sous chefs in the top chef kitchen. There is a certain point where I think the story can get too watered down. It can go too far from the original vision of the writer or director.

Why does this happen?

I think it’s because as creators, we want to please or impress everyone. We want people to like our stuff. So, there is a part of us that when someone gives a note about a story point or character distinction, we (at least subconsciously) start to think about it. Good or bad.

Here is my theory on that though…MOST points or criticisms by the masses AREN’T good or germane to the story. They are simply opinions. But you hear too many of them and you start to add (or take away) to (from) the story.

I have seen it. There was actually someone who asked everyone in the studio to “give notes” or suggestions. That is great for studio morale but horrible for the story. It watered down the plot. There were scenes that were funny but had NO point being in the movie. It hurt the film. It hurt the credibility of the story.

But some collaboration is definitely needed. You need a team that you can trust that can bring something to the story. I like the adage, “I want to help you make a better story NOT make my version of your story.”  That is collaboration…to a point…

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