Giving feedback: Successful TV producer agrees

Last week we offered tips on giving and getting feedback in game writing. Maybe you missed those posts. Maybe you think we’re talking out our asses. Regardless, you should know that the most successful TV producer in Hollywood right now agrees with us.

Jonathan Littman works for Jerry Bruckheimer Productions as head of television. Jonathan is responsible (to blame?) for bringing CSI to life, which spawned many, many spinoffs, including the computer games. His responsibilities include finding and developing new talent and concepts. He then shepherds projects through the studio system, receiving feedback all along. Once in production, he gives notes and feedback to the show’s creators and writers. In essence, Jonathan both gives and receives feedback, and with his track record, he knows how it’s done.

Jonathan spoke at an event in LA last week. You’ll notice how his thoughts on feedback bear a chilling similarity to our own posts on the subject.

On giving feedback, Jonathan said:
“When you say, ‘It’s just not working for me. I don’t know,’ that’s when I hang up the phone.”

We wrote on Tuesday:
Feedback should be quite specific and relevant to the matter at hand.

On taking feedback, Jonathan said:
“There are two types of showrunners.” The first kind take notes verbatim, taking every suggestion. This usually ends in disaster. The second kind listen to the studios’ feedback and “listen to what they’re really saying.” If there’s a problem in dialog, they realize that it may very well be a fundamental character issue rather than simply a dialog change. These are the great showrunners.

We wrote on Friday:
¨While many who give feedback will give reasons for the note, their reason may not always be the right one.¨
¨Take the note, not the suggestion.¨

The similarities are eerie. Now the big question is, are you ready to use these suggestions for good games and not for evil?

Question Mark Last week’s line of game dialog came from TOEJAM & EARL 3: Mission To Earth. Did you guess it right? More Guess that Game Dialog to come this week!

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Filed under Collaboration, Guess that game dialog!, Outsourcing, Writing

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