Screenwriting : Would you write about racism? by Emily Ann Jefferson

Emily Ann Jefferson

Would you write about racism?

Would you write about it?

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Yes. And I have. My scripts about radical Angela Davis and Four Negro Girls in a Church deal head on with racism. I'll write about any topic if I think there's a story to tell and I'm the one to tell it.

Blake Henry

I'll write about anything that will help people. The question in my mind is who in the audience thinks that they are a racist? It's always the other guy, right?

Pierre Langenegger

"The other guy"? What did ya call me?

Michael Savage Aka Sirtony

yes...I have...it was optioned by a 4 Time Emmy Award Winning director and his Production Company...and Academy Award Winning Actor Charles Durning met with us and told me it was the greatest script he had ever read about Racism with such a great story of insight ..inspiration and Hope...and then he said " How could a good looking son of a Bitch have written this...and he hugged me and said of course he will do it...so when the Top Network people of the time...read it...they said they DO NOT want to bring this Subject up and asked for a Off Beat Comedy... there is no need to produce a story that is no longer of value... So when you ask about RACISM...yes...I experienced it as a WHITE Boy trying to help tell a historic Truth about RACISM when a Young Black man who served in the ARMY and marries a white woman and is treated with acts of terrorism when he moves into a white community...after serving this Country and is a VET...and how a White Man stands up for his family and brings a very real truth to the community never before spoken and educates this World to what needs to change...and makes it happen... so yes...I know what it is to write a story about RACISM in this Nation...and how the RACISM in the NETWORKS control who and what will ever be shared...and yes...CHARLES DURNING passed away a few years later...and before he died...he told me...Hollywood is Dead...and told me FRANK CAPRA would have shot this in a Heart beat... so... POCKETS OF FEAR ...is my gift to humanity...yes...STAGE 32 should make this Film happen as a Community project...just get a copy and ...look in the mirror after you read it and it will define who you are forever...not getting a copy also defines you forever...we live in a very insane time... and POCKETS OF FEAR ...is still what drives this Nation...go ahead get a copy and take a journey of a lifetime and discover what needs to change ...before we are facing more RACE RIOTS and yes a Civil War...like no other ...... look forward to some truly great souls on this site to know when a Great NETWORK opportunity is shared...blessings http://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-savage-aka-sirtony-and-george-elliott/p...

Cherie Grant

Got tickets on yourself much?

David Taylor

I have already and would again. Many character - 'isms'- like Racism - are the stuff of great stories. If writing the story can also heal a wound or build a bridge - even better.

David Levy

I'd write about anything if it helps not only tell my story but convey a message. No topic should be off the table to write about.

Aray Brown

I would if that's the story I wanted to tell

Jody Ellis

Write about whatever you want. Then you can download your script under the logline section of your profile for feedback.

Lina Jones

I would no doubt.

Regina Lee

I would certainly encourage someone who wants to write about racism to please do so.

Clayton Broomes Jr.

I would but it has to be honest and true. It has to be true racism, not prejudice, or prejudice that can escalate to racism. Nothing like Crash or a Spike Lee film...

Joe Fiserano

I want to warn you that it is not a subject that will make every producer jump on it. It's very sensitive, can destroy careers and has to be done extremely well. To make it short, it is very risky. Unless you are a well known writer or have something really unique, the chances of it picking interest is slim to none. Movie industry is selfish, producers are more selfish. Nobody wants to risk his/her neck when there are so many easier and less risky projects out there that will help them keep their beach houses. X Men 9, Superman 8, Rocky 11 etc.

Regina Lee

With all due respect to Joe, I have to disagree. Race is a very important conversation in the mainstream. Look at The Birth of a Nation which just set a sales record at Sundance this year, Oscar winner Twelve Years a Slave, Oscar winner Selma, Emmy-winning American Crime, UK satire Four Lions, the upcoming mini series Roots, etc. They all deal with race and racism. Sure not every script about race and racism will be a hit but today's climate is more open to the topic than every before in my career.

Owen Mowatt

Agreed, Regina, great examples. Sorry, Joe, but your post is utter nonsense, and I cannot believe you were directing that at Black and ethnic writers. I don't particularly want to see a plethora of films about slavery, but the subject, which has only just been mainstreamed by the way, cannot be ignored. You now suggest that it's swept back under the carpet where it cannot be seen, or that writers should be wary of writing about it, is the kind of thing the world, not just the industry, doesn't need.

Angel Mirou

Yes, I would. I do. It's a fact of life, like sexism, xenophobia, bigotry, and all kinds of harmful, negative feelings towards other people. It is something a person shouldn't be neutral or indifferent to, since it concerns all of us. It is a source of strong conflict and therefore ideal for drama.

Linda Perkins

Sure! What's your point?

Guillermo Ramon

When I was very young I could not find a job, so I moved from Ohio to Boston. My name and accent were enough to stop anyone from hiring me. In Boston, I found work, worked very hard, and became lower management. But, I soon found out that as an Argentinian, I did not qualify for middle management. Actually, I have never been to Argentina, nor has anyone in my family. Realizing that there was a glass ceiling right on top of my head, I moved to Miami. After all, I was sure I could make it in a city controlled by Hispanics. Yes, I made it to middle management. I bought a condo, and then a house. One day, the police stopped my wife and me. The reason being that they thought I was a drug dealer. What made me pass for a drug dealer? I am white (Spaniard) and my wife is blond blue eyed. I drove a red sport's car. And we had the guts to be in a black neighborhood. Of course, they were very surprised when they read my address in my driver's license. I was right in front of my house. They thought I was insane because I lived there, but I had wanted to get the most house for the money. My neighbors were nice working people. I liked several of them. However, even some neighbors could not understand why we moved there. Many of the children in the neighborhood would asked us if we were bigots while they ate Oreos and milk in our living room. When I finally made it to upper management, I was criticized for hiring blacks and Pagans. The person who was offended by me hiring a Pagan was a black person for whom I was criticized for hiring her. I have seen too much bigotry for my taste. I have tasted bigotry in many ways. Maybe some day I will write about it, but for now. I like to write for fun.

Mark Proulx

Actually, given the fact that the lines are fairly well blurred between this generation identifying with white kids acting "black," black kids acting "white," there is a huge amount of comedic fodder for a writer to play on. I have one screenplay called "Jamaican Me Crazy" where the protagonist is a young Jamaican man looking to get a job, deal with a new life in America (and all our crazy culture), and looking for love. The antagonist is a white boy who thinks he's a black gangster. I had so much fun writing this screenplay that I was literally in tears laughing at the pages that were coming alive under my fingers!

Mark Proulx

Not all "racism" has to be about slavery or the civil rights movement. If you've seen as much everyday racism as I have over my lifetime, you'll know that the best way to combat a serious issue is with sarcasm, satire or comedy. It gets the word out, lightens the mood and puts the issue into the spotlight in a manner that gets people talking in a healthy manner.

Guillermo Ramon

Okay, Mark. you give me some to think about. Rather than thinking of it in a negative way, taking it as humor. You are right. The new generation is really good at integration. They do have so many wonderful things. I hope your script works well and sells in the end.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Anyone who experiences prejudice of any kind knows it's a rather unpleasant feeling. When I was in grammar school, other boys in the neighborhood delighted in taunting me about my faith. I was called Kike, Heeb, and dirty Jew boy. And, I fought several times to defend my right make it to school or home in one piece. When I was twelve, I knocked a kid out and the harassment pretty much subsided. Fortunately for me, the 70's brought a little dose of lighten up on the religious bigotry. But decades later, I still remember how bad it felt to be treated differently.

Michael Hager

If it was entertaining...

Julie Wochholz

I did. I wrote a screenplay about Emmett Till. Incredibly rewarding, though very tough to actually have to put down on paper what was done to him.

Michelle L. de La Graza

Yes. In one of my novels, which I want to create an adaptation of, I wrote about an alien world where racism and genocide were addressed.

Mark Proulx

And Michelle....that's a very good way of making it someone else's problem, yet address the issues such that people can relate. Star Trek did a VERY good job of that with "The Last Battleground" (look it up if you don't know the reference.)

Michelle L. de La Graza

Hello Mark Proulx . . . are you referring to the 1969 airing of the classic Star Trek (15th ep. of the 3rd season)? If so, while it covered the content at hand, it resulted in the annihilation/near extinction of two races—if I recall it correctly (I just Googled it for a refresher, too). I also felt that the topic was covered in Stargate, as well (feature and TV series). However, rather than send a race or species of humanoids (science fiction-based) to extinction, I wanted to focus on what warrants a life to be sanctioned, and who has the right to deem one species is worthy of sanctioning over another. The right life is a topic that has been discussed over the ages.

Mark Proulx

Michelle, your topic CERTAINLY smacks of the Holocaust and why simply because you have power you feel that certain races, cultures, indigenous species should be wiped out. Good topic. I wish you well on that.

Michelle L. de La Graza

Mark, actually, my story arc takes the opposite stance and showcases how all life is precious and should be sanctioned. My main characters fight against the injustice(s) of genocide and racism.

Joe Fiserano

Huh? Owen, where in my post do you see that I have written anything against black people and ethnic writers? If you are having trouble understanding what's written in basic English, then I don't think writing is the best profession for you. Regina, I have never said racism doesn't sell. All I said was, production companies are hesitant to consider sensitive work like racism from no name writers because of the risk being involved. You are giving me examples of award winning projects and yet, if you check the CREDENTIALS, you will see that ALL of them are established writers. Even Paul Webb, the writer of Selma, who doesn't have a lot of produced material under his belt has written a draft for Stephen Spielberg. Now, I have not written a draft for Spielberg before. Have you? If we were all connected like that, I am sure that we would be on the other end of the skype accepting 45$ per pitch, rather than arguing here about what to write and what not to write. With that being said, anybody can write about anything the heart desires. Based on my experiences in production, this type of project is found risky by STUDIO producers, if it is coming from a no name writer. That is the general overall first opinion, it is not a FACT. Anything that's very well written can be made, however, you have a bigger chance of seeing success if you write lite blockbuster material in a popular genre such as comedy, horror etc. Less risky because, they are easier to market and have a fanbase. That was the scoop of my post, nothing more.

Bill Costantini

"Racism" or any "ism" is tricky to write about, in the sense that if you portray someone or a group of people in a certain light - no matter how true it may be - you take the risk of being called a racist (or a sexist, or an elitist, or an agist...etc). That's why some people called great films like Do the Right Thing, Mississippi Burning, American History X and Gone with the Wind racist films. I just cannot for the life of me understand the mentality of people like that, can you? I thoroughly enjoy all films that reveal social conditions of any people, or of any time. They illuminate chinks in the psyche of mankind. I have written more than one script that does that, and would do another in the future, but only if I felt it was salable in today's marketplace.

Guillermo Ramon

Bill, I guess writing against The Donald makes me a trumpist.

Mark Proulx

And if writing FOR him...does that make you a Trumpeter?

Guillermo Ramon

I am Hispanic, writing for him would make me a sorry case.

Bill Costantini

This might end up being the most memorable general election for President and Vice-President of all time. It actually could be Donald Trump (R) versus Hillary Clinton (D) versus Bernie Sanders (I) versus Ted Cruz (T), plus the candidates from the Green, Libertarian and other parties. If that's the case, there might not even be one candidate who gets the necessary amount of electoral votes (270) to win. And if that happens, then the House of Reps get to select the President, and the Senate gets to select the Vice-President. It just might happen!

Regina Lee

Hi Joe, I totally respect your opinion. However, I disagree. Like I said, race and diversity are huge topics in Hollywood right now. In my experience, now is the time for talent (known names or unknown names) to write/create stories about race and race relations, because I believe the market is more open to those stories than it's ever been in my career. This is further evidenced by the various diversity programs in Hollywood - some quite newly created in response to this urgent need - ranging from HBO Access to the Warner Bros/Black List diversity initiative to the CBS Diversity Institute to NBC Writers on the Verge to Universal Pictures Emerging Writers, etc. It is never easy to sell a script. But now is a better time to approach the market with a story about race and race relations than any time over the past 15-20 years.

Lise Pyles

My answer: yes I would write about racism if I had a great story. But have I? Beats me! In my recent script, a mentally challenged guy goes up against a drug gang. I intentionally don't specify the race of any character but maybe people read the logline and make assumptions that it has a racial component, and possibly shy away or get offended based on their own mental pictures. The story does well in contests where readers read the whole script, but those who read only the logline seem to pass it by every time. Of course, I might just suck at loglines.

Joe Fiserano

Hey Regina, let's agree to disagree then. But keep in mind one of the golden rules of this business. Never write for the trend, because by the time you write it, it is almost always too late. Cheers.

Aray Brown

No I would definitely not, however if the seed has been planted in my brain and it's a great concept regardless of how I feel about the topic I would owe it to myself to see it through.

Clayton Broomes Jr.

Too many limitations here. Look, write what you want. Just keep it honest to your characters and the world they're inhabiting. Keep the stakes high. You'll be okay.

Regina Lee

As a human being and as a media exec, I believe Black Lives Matter. So do studios. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/bookmark/hunger-games-actress-star-blac...

Anthony D Paul

I did. Quarter finalist in the Fresh Voices competition and still have 4 contests to go.

Eric Christopherson

I might write about anything under the sun--or beyond the sun. Art I think is about the liberation of the mind, not its constriction.

Guillermo Ramon

I think that when black teenagers get killed in such higher proportions than others, we must emphasize that black lives matter. saying that all lives matter does not preclude that black lives matter. If a black young guy wears a hoodie, he is assumed to be a criminal. Police arrest young black males than any other group. There are more black males in death row than anyone else. When prejudice blurs the eyes of the law, we must be specific. All lives matter, but black lives are being more affected than others. Therefore, all black lives matter...

Guillermo Ramon

Patricia, you are right, someone must write the stories. However, the stories must be brought to the people for them to work. That is the tough part.

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