It’s Like We Wrote The Headline

November 10th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

If you’re looking for a bit of a reality check, continue reading. If you prefer to live in blissful ignorance (and we cannot blame you), skip to the next item. Take our word for it.

We often joke that we’re the only person in the greater Los Angeles area who is not working on a screenplay. It could be so cliche, and we can’t have that. Plus we don’t have cinematic vision, whatever that might be.

Writing and submitting novels is rough. Writing for motion pictures? Something tells us that people look at all that lovely white space and think it’s easier than pounding out 100,000 words (or so). We will not comment upon the folly of this thought. Nor will we ever be convinced that hearing a thirty-second description of a project is enough to understand its merits. Something tells us this lack of care and attention leads to more bad films than good. And, we need to remind everyone, in the Hollywood food chain, valets often make more per year than writers. When you hear about a blockbuster deal, don’t get stars in your eyes (or if you cannot help yourself, keep one foot on the ground):

That almost never happens. Every year, about 50,000 screenplays are registered with the western division of the Writers Guild of America, with nonmembers paying $20 and members paying $10. Only a few hundred of those are bought or optioned by studios, producers and production companies – usually for relatively paltry sums. Of the screenplays that find a home, a mere fraction end up as finished motion pictures and then, more often than not, only after they have been eviscerated and rewritten by a succession of writers known as script doctors.

Finally, in the interest of time, we will refrain from our thoughts on these so-called doctors. While teamwork isa laudable, public-spirited thought, there is something about a process where a succession of writers changes a screenplay to fit a vision, usually that of a clueless executive. It is our rule of thumb that the more writers there are on a project, the more likely it will be to end up in negative territory.

File Under: Square Pegs