Monday, May 4, 2009

What Do You Think?

Dear Script readers,

I recently received an e-mail that asserts that Script paints too rosy a picture of the screenwriting business. We don’t, the writer claimed, focus enough on the despair and frustration inherent in a career as a screenwriter.

My first instinct was to bundle up a few recent articles to send the e-mailer's way: interviews with A-list writers explaining their struggles against studio notes that grind against their artistic sensibilities. Or about the niceties of team writing and arbitration on countless blockbusters. Aaron Mendelsohn’s moving strike article outlining how, perhaps despite the fact that he has written one of the most profitable franchises in Disney history, he sometimes wonders from month to month how he’ll pay the mortgage. Discussions of new media and reality outlets that circumvent WGA protections by declining to call writers writers. And columnists who -- while lending a decidedly humorous bend to the news -- explain in issue after issue how writers are pushed out, lied to, and downright disrespected in the creative process. Not to mention writers we’ve covered full of hope and promise who have seen their projects crash and burn, or haven’t landed a job in years, or have produced a verifiably intelligent blockbuster, only to have an actor or director take credit for writing the majority of the material (or, conversely, blame the writer above all others when a project bombs due to too-many-cooks syndrome).

In the theatre, they have an adage: If you can imagine yourself doing anything else in the world, by all means, do it. I’m certain the saying has been applied in many screenwriting books and workshops as well. But the point is, even after knowing all of that, thousands of people -- maybe you -- work or aspire to work as scriptwriters for film, television, videogames, and new media. And when you achieve that work, is it wrong for a publication such as ours to celebrate those achievements, especially when very few outlets do?

This year, Dustin Lance Black and Simon Beaufoy did not discuss the darker side of the business in promoting their Oscar®-winning films. Instead they discussed the creative challenges of their respective journeys as they researched their screenplays. Is talking about the creative process over contempt for the studio too rosy a picture? Shawn Ryan changed the face of cable programming with a small cop drama that focused on character over set-pieces. Isn’t that worth celebrating?

If celebrating these writers and their stories is painting too rosy a picture of an industry often filled with disappointment and bad news, then I guess we’re guilty. We aren’t oblivious to the fact that sometimes it takes an invocation of the gods and the movement of heaven and earth to get someone to look at your script. But we do think that there's something of value in examining the successes as well as the failures and frustrations in this industry.

What do you think?

Maureen Green
Web Editor

No comments:

Post a Comment

In order to prevent spam, comments are moderated. Thank you.