I'm finishing up some revisions on a slightly older screenplay this week. A while ago I received some notes that suggested I do some more work on the protagonist's character and arc.
So I go through and do what I'm calling a character polish -- just changing stuff to help bring out the character better. Now, obviously, I might be very wrong about this, but I was impressed by how much one could do with relatively minor changes.
Since the screenplay was fairly short I simply added or extended some scenes with character development. Changed other scenes to juice up the pathos a bit. And spent a lot of time thinking about which moments could be best cultivated to bring out the character arc. Personally, I feel much better about it now and think that this draft manages to bring out some real emotion.
If I'm right, and a series of relatively minor textual changes can have this effect, then how many almost-good films are just a few scene modifications away from being no-reservations-good films?