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Monday, September 05, 2005

What - just a writer

Back onto the main theme of this blog. How to make sure the film that you want to get made - is the one that does get made. The big shame is that you need to a hyphen. A writer-director or a writer-producer. Being a writer-writer just doesn't seem to cut it.


Shaune Fradley said...

Ah but you could say that a writer is sooo talented that you don't need a hyphenated, double-barreled credit.

Whereas the rest of us need the second credit to spread our talent more thinly, in the vain hope that we can grab any work we can under every department possible!

Shaune Fradley:


Tim Clague said...

I'm not saying that it’s a case of having more than one string to your bow. People these days seem to be a bit more multi-skilled and can be a cameraperson one day and an editor the next.

What I'm looking at is someone's role on ONE film. If you are just the writer on a film you could have very little influence despite the fact that you are the 'father or mother' of the story.

You need a hyphen to retain control and ensure your child is brought up properly.

Paul Draper said...

What about the idea of the benefit of ceding control?

Ultimately your work of art will be exposed to subjective audience, who add the final interpretation to your work of art - without this the piece becomes just an abstract item and not art.

So if the film eventually becomes a collaboration between yourself and the world why not collaborate from the off and write to pass to another to interpret in their direction or production?

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned "child" - a good parent knows when to allow school, friends to influence their child, and so I think the writer should welcome artistic additions to his/her vision. Something beautiful may emerge you never even imagined.

monkey wrangler said...

Isn't this really the fundamental difference between being simply a "Writer"...and a "Storyteller"?

Isn't it valid to suggest that a script is nothing without a good visionary to give it a voice?..and vice versa.

Good writing can be sullied by poor storytelling I think..and again, vice versa. Just look at Harry Potter 3, outstanding storytelling...but complete jibberish. (imo)

Paul Draper said...

Good point Monkey Wrangler, now we're drilling down to tale communication fundamentals.

It seems obvious, but the writer has a part to play in the storytelling also - a badly structured script can hamstring the interpretation of the tale from the off. Or enhance it - look at Memento, its a really straightforward and quite dull thriller until you script it from the amnesiac's p.o.v - suddenly Chris Nolan had a "revolutionary" film on his hands.

Tim Clague said...

On Monkey Wrangler's point. Yes - visual flair goes hand in hand with a good story. And all those involved with a film are storytellers.

So if we agree that script and direction are of equal importance then how come you hear of directors asking for rewrites but you never hear of writers asking for a new director as the last one has stuffed up the interpretation of the script.

Paul Draper said...

I think directors are (a) higher up the food chain and (b) are more renowned for having explosive tempers!

Tim Clague said...

They are higher up the food chain - but why? Imagine a great scene like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid jumping off the waterfall. Its someone else's money funding the film, someone else wrote it and Rob and Paul doing the acting. Director? Get out of here.
(this is clearly an exagerrated point - but you get the idea - why would the director have a bigger say?)

Paul Draper said...

That was of course the approach adopted by studios of their in-house directors back in the 40s and 50s, directors had little say and were almost a hired hand, to be overruled at will, by execs without the slightest artistic bone in their body.

I think once the big US industry auteur-directors came along, Scorsese, Coppola, Altman, Bogdonavich, the identity and "weight" of a director changed radically, and this has filtered through to any level of film making. This of course doesn't mean it's right..

Suki Singh said...

Yeah, Whatever, Blah.

Michael Leahy said...

Paul, the notion of the auteur comes - as the name implies - from the French "new wave" ("nouvelle vague", literally) of the sixties. It got adapted to the American model. But one could still argue endlessly about whether it is a quality label or not.

In Europe, for some reason, it has become the norm. Probably because the collapse of the Italian and British industries (as opposed to arts or "national cinemas") meant that only very resourceful people mnaged to get their films finished. So bigger teams were out the door. Just a late Sunday afternoon theory!

Anonymous said...

Or, the writer can write novels and allow other people to translate them to the screen. ;-) That way no one can blame the writer for doing anything wrong in relation to the film (even if it was in fact the director's "fault").

But the risk still remains that it will turn out differently from what you hoped ... in some contracts of course the author has the role of "consultant" but they don't have much power to make decisions.

I suppose seeing your script (mis)interpreted and risking it being changed is part of the screenwriter's profession. Occasionally, you can also be positively surprised!

But if we were working with hyphens, I'd settle for writer-producer.