Screenwriting : Why are writers the only produ… by alexander hay

alexander hay

Why are writers the only produ…

Why are writers the only producers of work that allow their work to be edited? Would anyone dare suggest Picasso used a little less colour/form/style? Or ask Beethoven to alter a few notes/chords etc- here or there? Then why do writers accept others to interfere in their 'vision'?

Darren Wiesner

I think it's mostly due to the director not fully understanding the writers vision or it's filming constraints. Sometimes its hard to get certain shots the writer has put into a scene or the actor just can't make the lines convincing enough. I've only produced two short films, so I'm no expert. Just a fan of good movies.

Gianna Isabella

I know how you feel...it can be hard having someone change your work, but I do think it happens a lot during the filmmaking process because it is so collaborative. The costume designer might end up with his/her design tweaked a little, or the composer might be asked to change the music or the actor might be asked to deliver lines differently etc. There are hundreds of people that work on any given film so there needs to be room to change. If you're writing poetry or even a novel it's much different because notes are merely suggestions and any edits are left up to you, the writer.

alexander hay

I agree with you guys- the process of the finished write- book or film- goes thru' various stages of edit/doctoring/etc..it's as if it's notionally agreed that with written creative material it's acceptable for others to impinge on it in some way- to improve it. I agree that for many this is surely welcome and it aids in polishing the work- but why would it be wholly unacceptable to do likewise with a painting or music. And...a small rider to the above. At what point does anothers' changes result in the material being less their own work?

Rachael Saltzman

One difference is that a screenplay is a blueprint, not the end product. People watch movies, not read screenplays. The other is that all work for a client gets edited. Manuscripts, websites, graphic design, et al. There's writing or painting for yourself, and doing creative work in order to get paid for it.

alexander hay

I never intended the discussion to be specifically about screenwriting- I believe it covers the universality of literature, novels, essays, etc.. It appears that writers simply accept their low status to 'stay-on'the-system. Over the years some have managed to retain their credibility- Joyce, Keroauc, Welsh and others- who have broke free of the shackles imposed by culture- be it grammatical or normative values- just as other free artists of music (Charlie Parker, John Cage, etc. and the likes of Dali and in film- Passolini. Maybe it's simply because we are made aware of literatures 'rules' as infants as we learn to read and write whilewith other art forms we learn the rules later and with less discipline to them. I don't know! I just find it fascinating that writers still believe the notion that they are working within 'art'- yet willingly accept the interference from others. Something no right thingking painter or musician would accept.

Cate Cavanagh

Hi everyone. Cate here. After writing in all other forms I am currently screenplay writing. I think the main thing is to know your genre. This might take research but in the end it adds authenticity. My screenplay play writing (for the moment) is in the occult genre. I write about MAGICAL REALITY based on fact, not fantasy. I would avail myself to someone who needs to become familiar with this. So hi again!

Lucy Patricia O'Sullivan

Actors allow their work to be edited. Editors work is all about editing and while they do the work, in most cases the directors/producers/studio usually have final say. In any commisioned piece any artist is in the hands of the commisioner. It's true that writers are at the mercy of their respective industries in regard to editing, but I believe for the most part that this is a good thing. Writing is a craft, and there is a lot to learn about it, how can we learn if this work is not questioned? Artists are questioned whenever they put their work on display, the only difference is that they have definitively finished the piece, and are usually looking to sell it, and there, their responsibility ends, but making a film is a long process and in order to get the film right, the script must be right. Our responsibilty is a much longer one and as such I believe screenwriters are underpaid for the amount of time and work that can go into a script, but that's a different argument. P.S. My boyfriend edited this for me! lol

Cate Cavanagh

As a writer for many years I always look to edit. Revision makes better if not perfect. I am very particular about finished product so I don't think it would bother me UNLESS it became completely insance as I have heard it can be

Norman Ray Fitts

The biggest problem I run into is someone overwriting a script. I'm judging a competition right now and with some of them if I squeeze out the air and turn the dialogue into prose I have a short story.

Mark Ratering

someone buys your script it's they own it, they can change it.

Norman Ray Fitts

Yes, you are paid for your script, do a transfer of copyright and they own it. Two things could happen, you write the greatest script ever written and they turn it in the biggist piece of crap you ever saw and your name goes on it or, You write an okay script and they turn it into the greatest film ever made and your name goes on it, and really anything in the middle could happen.

Cate Cavanagh

Exactly. they butchered Josh Whedon's BUFFY movie so he made the series. He got sued and lost but hey, he's WAAAY ahead in the game.

Mark Ratering

Kristy Swanson is a close friend of mine and I thought she was a riot in Buffy. Josh had no choice and took the cheese and got busted but like you said he's ahead.

Rachael Saltzman

Seriously? You don't think the image or audio is edited?

Lisa Clemens

I agree Dan. Whether you are the only writer or not, this is a collaborative biz. One of the projects I worked on, started as the director/producer's story idea. I wrote up a screenplay, sent it to him, and he had me change it to suit his needs. Even though my job is done now, he may change things again once they scout a location and find that what I wrote won't work for that location or situation. Or maybe the director decides to let the actor improvise a line or two if he feels strongly that his character would say it differently. I have always heard the phrase, "Don't do the director's job by setting up shots or being too detailed." My mentor and friend who is also a director said, "No! The first person you want to impress could be a producer who might not have the imagination or skill to think how this could be shot, so if the scene reads better with our ideas for angles or close ups and it helps the reader really see the movie in the mind's eye, DO IT.....as a director, if I don't like your camera angles, I can change it! That's fine! But impress the readers or producers first!"

Mark Ratering

Abe Lincoln said it best "better to shut your mouth and be thought a fool then open your mouth and prove it". A director may kiss youR backside and say he wants camera angles but if he's any director he listens to his operator in the end. Thank goodness !!!

Lisa Clemens

My point being that along the way, a lot of hands shape the end product and a screenplay is never "written in stone" :-)

Mark Ratering

Written In Stone.... A screenplay is a property like a house, I can put a swimming pool in the living room if I want, unless the contract reads different.

Lisa Clemens

Exactly. That should have read NEVER written in stone. I just fixed that haha. Time for a new keyboard!

Tim Lane

Well, if Vincent Van Gogh had let others interfere his work he might have sold more than one painting in his lifetime. A lot of painters had their works painted over (more an economy thing than a critical thing, but still... . Anyway, that's the downside. The upside is they can only change your words after they buy it.

Donna M. Carbone

I teach screenwriting and I also do a lot of editing on other writer's works. The one constant I find is that, despite many re-writes, continuity is always an issue. Most writers I've worked with "forget" what they have written in a previous scene and need to be led back along the path they have laid. Many times the path they have laid, while interesting, has far too many detours to keep a reader/viewer interested. They also "forget" that they have "planted" something earlier in the script and fail to provide the payoff at the appropriate moment. Neither of these issues makes someone a bad writer. An extra set of eyes can help to round out a story and give it strength where it was previously weak. I have a good friend -- a Broadway actor -- who tells students, "If I can't hear you, I'm not interested." I think those words ring true for writing as well as performing. I'm sure my writing students get tired of me saying, "Listen to the voice in your head. It's exclusive to you. Be true to it." However, some voices are only whispers and need a nudge from others to help bring the message to full volume.

Norman Ray Fitts

I agree with what Donna said. I've taught a lot of students to write. I teach classes on writing screenplays and novels, which are two completely different formats. Not everyone can do both well. One thing I tell them is once you've told your story quit writing. It may not be a novel but a short story, or it may not be a feature length script but a short script. You'll most likely mess it up.

Donna M. Carbone

Norman... you are sooooo right about the need to think differently when writing a novel versus a screenplay. Some of the biggest problems in my class arise when a novel writer want to turn his/her story into a screenplay. They do not understand that, in a screenplay, less is more. Their scripts become bogged down in unnecessary adjectives and flowery phrases that lend nothing to the story. One day I am going to write a script based on the "excuses" given in class for why those words/phrases are necessary. Action blocks... they often tell more about the writer than the characters in the script. Some of them are so ludicrous... well, let's just say I've yet to find a reason why a strip of foil wrapped condoms needs to be held to the lips and "played like a flute."

Norman Ray Fitts

Yes, scripts should be written in present tense, third person, active voice (active voice takes fewer words to say it than passive voice) and in the action/descriptive paragraph if the audience can not see it or hear it do not write it. In a spec script do not be over descriptive. it is the director's job to design the final look of the scene. As to the condoms wrapped in foil, unless that is an integral part of the plot, I agree.

Charles G. Masi

As a veteran journalist, fiction and nonfiction writer, as well as a graphic artist working in several media, I can address that: writers ARE editors, and vis versa. Even a mediocre writer rewrites everything they do so many times they can't see even stupid errors, anymore. At that point they need an editor's help. Professional writers all know that a good editor generally improves their work. And, yes, professional fine artists do it, too, even a Beethoven or Picasso (Picasso worked closely with Georges Braque, each "editing" the others work). I have a few other artists whose opinions I seek about my works in process, and generally take their advice. I'm reminded of one particular painting, titled "Maelstrom 2" that I took to my friend Arturo when I thought it was finished. His comment was that I needed additional layers of transparent paint to improve the color saturation. I went back and worked on it for a few more hours, and changed a washed-out painting into something with great depth and vibrancy. I know no professional artists who don't show their work to other artists for comment. It's the difference between a professional and an amateur.

Shawn Whitney

Because film is a collaborative medium - the writer sets the framework and some of the tone. The director recreates the story through their interpretation of the vision - effectively re-writing it. And then the editor takes the footage and rewrites it again. That doesn't even touch upon the role of production design, sound design, scoring, lighting and more. But even at the writing stage it is incredibly useful to have outside eyes look over your work and offer opinions - it's up to you to interpret those opinions and how they fit with your vision.

alexander hay

I'm amazed at the number of people who misinterpret my comments. Incorporating others ideas into your work is collaboration and it is wrong to argue your work is then wholly your own. Basing your work on ideas and influence from others is still your own interpretation but never to be confused with the incorporation of suggestions /ideas that fundamentally alter the piece. Amen!!!

alexander hay

Love to- but sadly- I've given-up producing.

Greg Rempel

Unless he/she has final cut (which is rare) producers and directors often have their work re-edited. So, many are in the same category as the poor screenwriter in that regard.

Johnny Cinematic

Because too many people are under the illusion that everyone can write.

Danny Manus

I think the concept that musicians don't get feedback and change their product is incorrect to begin with. Let's say you write song lyrics to a great new song and people like it. Now they need to make it into a hit. So they add a new bridge, they figure out the arrangement that will get it played on as many radio stations as possible, they bring in a rapper to do a rap solo in the chorus, and they probably change it from a ballad to something up tempo. Why? Because just like screenwriting, music isn't just about art. It's about commerce. And you take that beautiful piece of music and you make it into something that can sell. There's a reason there are a lot of starving painters out there whose names you'll never know of.

alexander hay

I see lots of advice on here but very little integrity.

Tim Lane

Integrity? I'm still trying to learn how to fake sincerity. Once I tackle that I'll move up to integrity.

alexander hay

Yo- Tim. That's a class comment. Like it- let's have more profound epigrams on here and less tiresome and earnest quests for writers blueprints/script analysis and what's right and what's wrong/good/bad. Goldman is right- nobody knows anything!

Danny Manus

No one says you HAVE to kill your babies. They just say you have to be willing to. Often not because someone else tells you to, but because you find a flaw in your own work. If you want integrity, write poetry. lol

alexander hay

I do write poetry- with integrity. I even tried once using a pencil- but integrity works far better.

alexander hay

I used to have integrity- kept in a wee jar under the sink(faucet). Loaned it to a neighbour- and now it's gone!

Tim Lane

You should get 'indoor plumbing (toilet) so you won't have to wee in a jar anymore. Google 'toilet', if you have any questions.

Beth Fox Heisinger

The work of all creators -- artists, writers, musicians, actors, directors -- are affected and influenced by others, by history, by life, by current trends and issues, whether they take change "notes" or not. Picasso actually did take opinions from and was influenced by Matisse. Beethoven was taught by the master Joseph Haydn and loved Mozart and was his successor after he died. Thought to have "received Mozart's spirit through Haydn's hands." So, who really knows how that truly affected Beethoven's music. Plus, wasn't Mozart told he played too many notes?! :) Creators are always subject to opinion. Anyway, only if you are able to produce and direct the making of your own script will you be able to limit and control change. But, creating film is a team effort. If one cannot handle the contributions of others, then perhaps writing in a different form and working in a different field would be best.

JC Young

Understand that while someone may never have your 'vision' of your work, it is a collaborative process. Often times, the actors, director, editors etc. may go in directions you never considered. But, also understand that you've been hired or had your work optioned. And in most cases any drama over whether it's your way or the highway will likely result in a new writer being hired. Only a handful of writers ever wielded the power you're talking about and they weren't even the best writers - just people who knew their product would put butts in the seats and they'd made bank for the studio before to get that control. During the writing process, you've heard the term 'kill your darlings'. Well, once your baby is born and you hand it off, it's their to kill now.

Lisa Clemens

Absolutely right. I liken it to a car I built. Once I hand over the title they can paint it any color or drive it over a cliff

Ed Penney

It seems that we are considered to be at the bottom of the 'food chain' as far as producers are concerned but without a good script what have they got? Zilch! As they say....go figure!

JC Young

Ed, that truth stares producers in the face all the time. Films need scripts, but writers come cheap and the business people don't like giving power to creatives. I'm a big fan of Harlan Ellison, Shane Black and even Joe Esterhaz if nothing else because these three men know the value of getting paid for their work. Shane and Joe at one time commanded some of the single biggest paydays for screenwriters. Yes, they don't write Oscar winners. They wrote films that made money. But it's hard to stay strong. I've had a producer tell me point-blank that if I didn't want to rewrite or accept their terms, he'd find someone else. Whether he was bluffing or not, am I supposed to take that chance? There are people out there who would write for free if they could.

Richard Trombly

because painters only need a canvas and a brush... filmmakers need an army. A painter is successful with an audience of 1. A film maker of even the cheapest youtube video is a massive financial disaster with an audience of 1.

Richard Trombly

I do not like it any better than you ... but....

Calum Darroch

Well for a start I don't really agree with the premise... film directors, producers and even musicians have all had their artistic integrity impinged upon by people who want to make their work sell. The reason is that someone needs to put the money up to either make your vision happen (in the case of a screenwriter) or to put your work out into the market (with novelists). They're not going to do that if they don't think enough people will like your work and therefore PAY FOR IT. The difference with Picasso is that he does a painting and asks a gallery to hang it. They either do or don't, it takes relatively little investment from them and they say yes or no on a case by case basis. Beethoven only needs to convince someone to play his music in concert, which I might add will have taken many, MANY rejected pieces of music until he was successful. Also, it is highly likely he would have taken advice from people on how to make his music better over that time. No artist works in a vacuum, their work will always be influenced by other people.

alexander hay

The subject appears to have exploded into various off-shoots and away from the premise posed. Of course everyone is influenced by others- and what's around them. I didn't suggest otherwise. My central point is- anyone's work that changes due to suggestion by others can never be classed as wholly their own. So all the stuff regarding collaboration, influence or editing doesn't apply. Similarly- originality will never be achieved by adopting rules- grammatical or McKee's or any other kind. Originality- ipso facto- breaks the rules. eg- Picasso- Joyce- Charlie Parker- Kerouac- Cage- et al.

Tim Lane

one can write a very original haiku but if you don't follow the rules its not a haiku. so let's try not to redefine original ... original though that may be.

alexander hay

Original has no rules and therefore no definition.

Gordon Olivea

Screenwriters are starting something that many other artists will add to and eventually finish. I paint, and I'm the only one who has a brush, I am writing a novel, and I am creating the final product. but with my screenplay, the actors, the director, the cinematographer and other will have their own inputs. A script is words on a page, but a movie is a light and sound exposition. How to get words from the page and up to the screen - you get others involved. Those others are artists. They want to create just as much as a writer.

Calum Darroch

It's possible to get way too "meta" when discussing originality. Everything we do we do because of other people's influence on us. A baby allowed to grow up in a floatation tank with no social interaction whatsoever would never produce anything we would recognise as "art". While artists break rules, they only break certain specific ones... with Picasso, he had a radical approach to form, but he still used canvases, paints etc. He was more conformist in that regard than he was "original". So really, originality as we perceive it is simply a slight departure from a set of rules rather than BREAKING the rules. You say that originality cannot be achieved by adopting rules and use the example of grammatical rules... but if you don't use grammar that people can understand, the work is worthless. Certain rules are essential for a work to achieve its purpose, which is the transfer of information via an artistic form. Writers communicate, and to communicate they need to follow certain rules that everybody understands.

alexander hay

Hey- thanks for telling me how film-making works. I'd never have guessed!

alexander hay

I know where you're at- but for some- writing isn't about communicating to everyone.

Tim Lane

Calum, that post twas brillig and slithy! Which reminds me of a great example of breaking rules within a rule structure. I'm all mimsy trying to recall the name of the piece.

alexander hay

Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky is Charlie Parker's Koko.

Tim Lane

Alexander, of course it was Jabberwocky. What part of mimsy did you not understand?

alexander hay

All of it- and none of it.

Tim Lane

SHEESH!

Lisa Clemens

Well what do you know... As I said, when you sell a script the director can change ANYTHING and you can't do a thing about it...I saw some photos from on set of Case Number 13 for a scene I recognized but it was not supposed to be filmed because the characters talk about the history of the house, you don't actually see it...I got an answer from the director for that (I won't spoil it) but also found out he just did reshoots this weekend for a new ending bit and a few new scenes.. It happens. I'm curious to see how it comes out and I hope it all fits! I think I'm okay with this mostly because the story started with and by the director/producer, Johnny Martin. I was hired to write HIS movie . But yeah, my name (and my partner's name-he worked on the first draft, after all) is still on as a credit so I hope it's all good haha!

Michael Eddy

Nature of the beast. That's how the business works. Once you sell the rights to your work - whether an option or an outright sale (and the same goes for novelists BTW) - and money changes hands - it ain't yours any more. The studio - whether they are renting or buying - can do whatever they want. The WGA negotiated a deal whereby the writers of original material must be paid for the first set of revisions. Key words - "must be paid". But the studio can pay them for NOT writing it and bring in someone else. Your argument about defacing paintings and changing Beethoven's scores is valid and has been made for decades. But the movies are considered a "collaborative medium" - even when a single laser-like vision is called for. That's how it goes. You take their money - you cede control. I once wrote a script where someone is murdered in the first 15 pages and sets the plot in motion. It was bought. Another writer was brought in (ostensibly for budgetary reasons - even though it was my first sale and I worked cheap). And the movie got made. When I saw it - the murder VICTIM in my script - not only didn't die - she turned out to be the KILLER! Welcome to the movie business.

Benjamin Lewis

Other artists get edited all the time. Every graphic designer has to go through draft after draft. And you know the classic artists were edited by their patrons. Sadly, it's just that editing and writing look too similar to differentiate between.

Michael L. Burris

Simply put. To make their vision expand

Mark Ratering

No when a producer BUYS a script from a writer he never has to see him again depending on the contract. No Producer is going to give to much to a writer except a check.

Mark Ratering

Yes "Love,, Love will keep us together"

Mark Ratering

Not you.. the producer and director ..after we get rid of the writer LOL

Lisa Clemens

If you sell the script ( like a spec script) and that's that, then yes you have no control. On the other hand, sometimes if you are hired (work for hire) then you may be kept in the loop. It depends on your relationship with the director or producer. In my case, on both Case 13 (and hopefully the one I was just asked to start, for the same person) I was kept informed of changes and asked to make a few as well. When another producer asked us to add characters the director asked my opinion and we were able to come to a compromise. But all in all it IS a collaboration! Actors improvised lines that worked, situations on set called for last minute changes. I can only say it's not my baby, I'm just the mid-wife!

Tabitha Baumander

actors are "edited" by their directors. A painter or visual artist that wants to sell the work is "edited" by what the traffic will buy. There is always some sort of direction to follow.

Mark Ratering

I made millions in advertising I am an artist and my product is "my" view of Art. I'm Poor but happy.

Lina Jones

That's because people feel like their version is better when only you can visualize what your story is about.

Mark Ratering

A writer rightly so is concerned with his story but a Director has to also make sure music acting all elements come together. Story important movie.. most important.

Ralph Shorter

It's a collaborative business. We knew what we were getting into. Novel writers, screenwriters and poets all have to answer to others.

Mark Ratering

You think it gets better when you become famous but it doesn't. I have told my story working on the film "Altered States" before when Paddy Chayefsky pushed and shoved the Director on the set because of "Creative Differences".

Janet Biery

They can't walk in your mind, see what you did, if it is not on the page. Sometimes it might be impossible to shoot, sometimes it may be too strange. I read somewhere it costs at least $1000 a page to shoot, so of course they want to get it right and simpler to film if possible.

Mark Ratering

1,000 ???? my films were $10,000 per page/minute

Janet Biery

I think that was the minimum. Some of these big projects are tons more.

Michael Eddy

I disagree about novels. The writer is God with a novel - answering only to an editor - who in most cases does not suggest the whoilesale (and often ludicrous) changes to the work that a studio exec might. They correct grammar - and look for accuracy (especially in non-fiction). With film scripts - oftimes - the studio critic showering the writer with notes - is merely trying to justify their weekly paycheck - by acting like a dog and marking their territory as if to say "I was here. I contributed" - when many times - under thier "guidance" the script only gets worse, more convoluted and indecipherable.

Mark Ratering

I was criticised for the advice I gave new writers when I stated that new writers spend time on a film set to understand film-making. The notes a director gives is that translation of story to film may not work the way the writer wants it to. I agree novelists are different then screenwriters.

Lisa Clemens

Here's a great article on the subject: http://www.bobsaenz.com/blog/

Demiurgic Endeavors

Because others feel the need to gain additional film credits.

William Martell

Movies are a team, not an individual. If you don't like that, write novels.

Cherie Grant

Artists like Picasso spend YEARS and even decades perfecting their art and they DO get critiqued especially if they went to Art school. That said writers can't publish without financial contribution from another body like movie studios/publishers. artists can stick their art up in an exhibition room that they pay to hire and work completely for themselves.

alexander hay

methinks too many forget auteurs and are stuck in Hellywood ideaology.

alexander hay

Good look for yourself!

Margaret Peirson

It's unfortunate, but your work has to fit with what their looking for, and if it comes extremely close, but needs to be edited here and there, you will have to accept those changes, that's if you want your work to be published. Or you can self-publish and not worry about editing anything, but you might want to hire an editor just to make sure your grammar and sentence structures are correct. Self Publishing companies print without editing, that's what you pay them for. Emily Dickinson is a good example. She wanted her poetry published but had to compromise if she wanted them published, so she decided not to submit her poetry, and only became well-known after her death when her poems were found by her sister-in-law.

Stephen J. Payne

I always approach a project in a leadership position so input is always valuable and in most cases improves the project. I agree with Leon that collaboration is the name of the game in the media biz

Sean Farrington

It may have been said (gobs of comments) but this is simply untrue. The director allows his work to be edited, by an editor. He often receives "notes" from producers that are worried about ROI. And, surely, focus groups force editing. And Pixar has built a whole corporate culture around candor and reedits until the story is correct. Edits can be positives...

Jeffrey Paul McMahon

Let's not forget that during the Renaissance, virtually all those 'artists' were at the beck and call of their wealthy patrons. It's simply a case of 'who pays the piper, calls the tune.' Sorry but that's life. As for Picasso, I can guarantee that the final product the public gets to see was the result of many previous editions scrapped or painted over as a result of 'feedback'. Write what you want - but if you want others to read it and turn it into a visual product then...

Greg Hickey

As a non-film writer, you can always ignore critics and self-publish. But you can't self-publish a film because it's a collaborative effort. In theory, the point of editing is to make the work better. If someone suggests an edit to me, it might be something I never thought of before that I really like. Or I can decide to ignore it, even if doing so may close some opportunities. Accepting or rejecting edits is just another value judgement, determining whether the changes will make your work better or more accessible and deciding whether the trade off is worth it.

Janet Biery

I finished a small art class last month. Everyone - teacher, fellow students, people walking by in the hall - offered suggestions and comments on each other's work. I think the only time you don't get that is when you do the work in private for your own consumption. I've written for myself for years now. Finally dared by a friend to post something on the internet. I want input before I put it out there. There is such a difference in creating something that others might enjoy (pay for) and just writing to see where the threads of character lead. For me, I know there is a higher standard when it's something others will see and judge. Besides, even academy award winning films get savaged by the press. It's probably nice to share the credit or blame with all the other creatives when the reviews stink.

Kevin Fukunaga

There are too many comments for me to read them all to see if my comment was already stated - so I apologize in advance if I'm repeating someone else's post. Screenwriting is "edited" (revised, rewritten, changed) because filmmaking is a collaborative art form. No one single person is responsible for the finished project. A screenwriter writes it, a director directs, an editor cuts, actors deliver performances, costume designers and prop makers and set decorators and cinematographers and gaffers and grips and transpo guys... all have a hand in the final product you see on the screen. So while a screenwriter's contribution may be greater than say the craft service guy, it's still a collaboration with dozens if not hundreds of people, craftsmen(women), artisans. In addition, filmmaking, generally speaking, is an expensive commercial venture with studios gambling millions - sometimes hundreds of millions - on a film project so they will obviously want some say in the final product and that leads to their influence during the entire process. Why do screenwriters accept others interfering with their "vision"? Money. Plain and simple. If you have millions of dollars of your own money and can shoot and market and distribute your own film, then you don't need to accept anyone messing with your vision. If you want someone to PAY YOU thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars and then spend millions producing your script into a feature film, then they get to decide what the end product is. Wait, this topic is two years old and I just commented on it. Hahaha, anyway, I'm new - but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

William Martell

Today's Script Tip: Being A Team Player. http://www.scriptsecrets.net/tips/tip382.htm

alexander hay

Good points by Kevin Fukunaga- (is that name for real- I like it!) and many other contributors. I think it's time this discussion died a death. We all know how the 'system' works- yet no-one appears interested in my main point- WHY? Kevin's right- MONEY- yet there I was thinking screenwriters had integrity. Foolish mistake!

Cherie Grant

I think that's a really unfair comment. Writer's have integrity, but they are at the whim of others who want to make money out of their work. I have integrity thank you very much, but I also want to buy a house and eat every day. What's so wrong about that? I'm happy with what I write and if a producer wants to change something in my script then how can I stop him/her? I agree and get more work later on. I still write poetry and other forms without any intervention. To be honest ti doesn't bother me. I'd be too thrilled buying my house outright to care about interference with my script. I mean you've got to be kidding right?

alexander hay

Why are screenwriters so defensive? I'm simply stating that the collaborative process necessitates that their work is not wholly their own. Accept it and get real!

Cherie Grant

that's all we've been saying. you've been saying we have no integrity. don't backtrack on your own words.

Cherie Grant

I am plenty real thank you.

alexander hay

Look! You write for movies- your work ain't wholly yours! Am I right- or am I right? No 'if's'- 'buts'. If you can't hack(sic) that- tuff!

Margaret Peirson

You are right! Once you've made an agreement to sell your script, then it's taken over by the producers and their script doctors. The unfortunate news, if the movie gets bad reviews, so does the screenwriter, if it gets good reviews then all reap their just rewards. That's just the way it is. But recently I believe, writers do have a little more input on their script then before, so maybe it's moving in a positive direction, maybe not... time will only tell.

Michael Eddy

You're actually right and you're wrong. Writing for the screen IS a collaborative medium as many here have posted ad nauseum on this thread. The work goes through a lot of hands on its way (hopefully) to the screen. Some of those hands are intelligent and make great suggestions and give splendid notes. Others (most) do not. Many studio execs have a penchant for saying "no" to anything and everything - because it's easier than putting their stamp of approval on something and moving it up the ladder twoard a green light - and thus - putting their own reputation on the line - and risking career potholes. Some actors have good insight into the characters they'll play and make fine contributions. Others are line counters. Their involvement assumes the movie is getting made. On the rocky road to production however - not all notes are golden. Unless you count the golden showers of execs and producers who merely piss all over things to mark their territory and screw with the words just to do it - and make things worse, not better. Getting back to are you right or right - when a writer is writing on SPEC - the work is most assuredly his or hers. And unless they are getting paid for their work - it remains so - and they are free to dismiss any suggested changes made by someone with no skin in the game. An option is merely a rental - again - take all with a grain of salt. "interesting, let me think about that" - and then use what works and throw out what does not. A writer - especially of original material - should be the best judge of the work - because they've lived with it since it was nothing but blank pages. Have the courage of your convictions and a good sense of the story you set out to tell. That being said - when money changes hands (and no WRITER should ever do anything other than original spec material for free) - then it necessitates you're become a bit more malleable and a bit more of a team player.

Michael Eddy

Margaret - the rule of thumb is: if the movie gets bad reviews - they blame the script. If the movie gets raves - they praise everybody BUT the writer(s). I've written quite a few letters to critics about this very issue. Also to magazines like Entertainment Weekly - which uses their seasonal Movie Preview issues to write about upcoming releases - and invariably list the stars AND the director - but NEVER the writer. As for writers "recently" having more input - not sure where you got this impression. It's pretty much same old same old. Directors don't want writers on the set - because people might realize they know what they're doing when the actors go to THEM to ask about back story or motivation. Unless you are an A-lister (and that list is less than a dozen names of go to guys and gals) - you are shunted aside once money changes hands - for the director's pet writer or the studio's flavor of the month or the "dialogue specialist who knows how to write women or teens"). John Green - the AUTHOR of "The Fault in Our Stars" - the novel - is getting far more publicity and play and respect on the set of the movie when it filmed than did the screenwriter who did the adaptation. Fact.

alexander hay

Exactly- Michael. I think others find it hard to accept that selling your intellect is akin to selling your body. A whore's a whore- right?

Margaret Peirson

Thanks for your response Michael. As far as saying writers are having some input, meaning producers are at least listening to some of their suggestions, whether they used them or not... so maybe there is still some hope, for screenwriters to have their voice heard. But I do agree it is a longshot....

Lisa Clemens

And again it depends on if you just sell a script (spec) or if you are hired to write it. When I work with Johnny Martin it's not with my spec script, he's hired me for the job of putting a script together. He tells me the basic idea of the story and I run with it. He tells me the bare bones of an idea and I create the characters, their personalities, bring other characters in etc. Then when he gives me notes, I have the chance to give him my input as to why it should not change or to agree or compromise etc. Knowing the budget he's working with and other limitations is great though sometimes that can change in either direction too! Hopefully when I get a few more under my belt, then I can get interest up for one of my own spec scripts.

William Joseph Hill

Since a script is a blueprint for making a film, changes are inevitable, for all the reasons previously mentioned. It's also a lot cheaper to change things on paper before you've committed to production, which is why script development can take an insane amount of time. I'm currently developing a feature film that I've re-written over the years countless times. If you're producing your film independently, then you can keep a lot of this within your control. But if you're writing for a studio, you just have to grin and accept the changes that they're going to make to your work -- sometimes to the point where it becomes unrecognizable. That's why the WGA exists -- to at least guarantee some decent compensation for all the "heartbreak".

Jeffrey Paul McMahon

One fact we should all revel in is that the original screenplay will still exist in its original form - it belongs to its creator and nothing can ever change that. Making a film, however.... When all is said and done, take out the original and compare it with what was translated on to the screen and then cry foul if you must.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

It's because it takes a village to get a film made... several key people collaborating to bring it to fruition.

Edward Case

It's not just screenwriters. Publishing also has editors. But directors have producers (most don't have final cut). Bands have producers who shape and edit their works (take a listen to a remix by another producer sometime). Even fine artists sometimes must shape their work if it's for a patron (like Michaelangelo - though changes he had to make were not without his own editorial touches). Any work where someone else is coming up with the money is going to be subject to editorializing, regardless of the type. If someone pays, that someone is buying a bit of power over the work as well.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

As a published author, I have found that editors usually make my writing better. Plus you are talking a different medium-- visual arts such as painting or sculpting. Film is a collaborative effort. At a screenplay conference, I heard famous writers say that if you don't want your writing touched then direct it yourself. Ive only written for short films but even on those you directors, photographers and actors chiming in. You listened to their suggestions, went with the ones that were good , fought against those that weren't. I didn't always win. I learned it was a team effort.

Susan Walker

All right, I'll bite. I am a veteran writer/editor (ie, older than dirt). I have edited magazines, medical texts, non-fiction, fiction, and manuals. I've written novels, thousands of articles, a couple of non-fiction books, and I've taught writing. Here's the deal. (And a lot of you won't like this.) So many writers, especially non-published or newly published writers think their pen spouts gold. Sorry, no, no one does. Most new writers believe their writing is part of their soul. Rejections or edits enrage them or break their hearts. Please remember that as writers we are selling our product. If you want to earn money, you need to subject your darlings to all the many stages of editing: substantive (the one writers hate the most), copyediting (you rely on us too much), and the proofreader (lowest paid, but most highly needed). You will get galleys, you will get copyeditor queries that say 'What do you mean here?' You will get a publisher who wants your book but hates your first person approach (then it's usually up to you to give in or sit sulking). I've worked with professional photographers, musicians, actors, voice actors, and artists. Every single one of them works collaboratively with the people who want to pay to help your work be the best it can be and fit into their project, be it a magazine mandate, a film to be produced, or, hell, an ad. Only self-publishing will you be without that safety net. Lean on your editors, learn from them, and never phone them (we hate that.) Most of all, enjoy the journey, they do want to help.

Margaret Peirson

Susan I couldn't agree with you more. You have to work together as a team, if you want to see the final results pay off.

Tim Lane

Susan, I like the 'safety net' line. It's much better than the 'roadblock to success' excuse that many use to take their work 'off road' and self publish.

David Mc Intosh

I fully agree!! Writers seem to be the least paid and most edited, but without their work and initial foundation of vision and story, there is NO project... very odd indeed!!

Susan Walker

If humans were perfect, there'd be no use for pencil erasers, ctl+z, or editors. Editors are a tool in your arsenal to that fame and fortune. Use them. (And if you think writers are the lowest paid, let me show you a pay stub and make you glad you're on the other side of the desk.)

Wallace Brown

Fashion houses. It takes just the one person to hold the pen, others also to feed ideas and opinions into that pen. Hairdressing. For the ordinary person on the street there is the one cutter. For the celebrity prior to the Red Carpet there is the hairdresser, the stylist, the head stylist. All fussing around like flies round a pooh pile. Catering. In, say, a fancy restaurant, there will be the cook. And keeping a close eye, ready to pounce, is Head Chef. (For that plate of food must not only be good...it has to be great. The woman over there in the far corner trying her best to look human is in fact a well known food critic. And critics, as we know, are sharks in disguise). And so it is when producing something for the big or small screen. Writers are often times just too close to their work and it takes an outsider to offer fresh eyes, new ideas etc. to make our work read better. So don't view it as an interference (negative) but a compliment (positive). And as for Beethoven. Remember. We only got to hear the end result. I daresay there were major screaming matches between he and fellow musicians who, at the end of day, may have assisted in his greatness.

Wm. Alan Pezzuto

Alex, as a member of both WGC and WGA I can say that while we may write for ourselves, others pay us. I rewrite other writers all the time, I rewrite myself for producers (that's what they pay for). Yes, Picasso did his own thing but he also did consignment work, as did Norman Rockwell, and everyone else. Directors tell actors how to plat aspects of their roles, etc. Suck it up, start getting paid and then produce your work, your way. Break a leg and keep paying the bills.

Eniola Funmibi

I think as a writer, you create a single world no one has lived in other than you. This world is shaped by many observations, experiences and you. And as such, we allow our work to be edited because this world has to keep expanding by more ideas and experiences as seen from the POV of others too. If you limit this world to yourself, you would end up being the only to live in it. Its sad to be alone.

Fernando George la la Cruz

There are a few writers who direct their own film, and at that produce them.

Anthony Ward

Well, I think you are over simplifying it. Musicians and painters also have their visions edited to varying extents, if they want it presented to the public. For instance, Madonna was told that she couldn't do certain parts of her set unless she altered it in some cities a while back. Record labels always vet the work most artists do and have a say in the song selection for the albums. The real difference in how much creative control you have is in how much help you need delivering it to the audience. The less help you need, the more controls you have. For instance a writer, who is also a director and producer will have a stronger chance of delivering his vision intact, for better or worse. Another determining factor, and one illustrated by your examples, the talent in question. Picasso and Beethoven, were supremely talented in their respective fields. Unless you think you are the Picasso or Beethoven of screenwriters, you really shouldn't expect that level of control, BUT if you are, you would likely get it. But I do agree (and this could just be a point I am raising on my own) that screenwriters, of original content, do often get extricated from the credit for the finished products to a greater extent than other artist. You can sit at your computer and create from scratch a story and characters that can go on to generate a BILLION dollars and only pocket a couple of hundred thousand, IF YOU ARE LUCKY. That is a flaw in the system, in my opinion. It's one thing to sell an idea and quite another to sell a well written plan on how to execute that idea. I think it would not only be reasonable, but a starting point, to pay a screenwriter (of original content) at least 10 points on the total net from his/her invention. And that is still a bargain, considering you had nothing until you got that script. But instead, writers get what ever scarps are thrown and should be glad they didn't just steal your idea for free. But hey, you play the game the way it's played until you get good enough to gain the clout to change it.

William Martell

There are a hundred (or more) people who come together to make a movie. You may think you are more important than everyone else because you are the screenwriter. but we all know who is really the most important person involved... the guy who brings the coffee in the morning (craft services).

Tim Lane

As the screenwriter won't my trailer come with its own barrister? Or do I have to choose between her and a masseuse? Maybe this screenwriting thing isn't all its cracked up to be.

Margaret Peirson

Once you relinquish your work to those who liked it enough to produce it, the writer has to sit back and let those who have to make the writer's words come alive, do their job...this is a business, a business of making money. Once your name as a screenwriter is established, then maybe you'll have more input. But a writer has to know that a director is also creative, and also has a vision of what a writer's script could become. And a producer who invests his or her money in that writer's screenplay, wants to make sure that their investment was well worth the cost.... So if everyone worked together to make a good film, and leave their egos behind, then the screenwriter, director and producer will surly have a great result, at least one would hope so.

Wallace Brown

Margaret, I couldn't agree with you more. Well said :-)

Ingrid Abrams

I think you should read this article by Nancy Nigrosh. It deals with what you are talking about. BTW she will be at the Screenwriter's conference. URL:http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/screenwriting_in_hollywood_a_modest_proposal

Ingrid Abrams

If that link doesn't work go thru scriptmag and click on the lone screenwriter link in the article. http://www.scriptmag.com/features/nancy-nigrosh-breaking-into-the-screen...

alexander hay

You are soo right- Ingrid. That article is a peach. Writers create the work- yet their status is minimized in relation to other creatives. Without us- no show!

Ingrid Abrams

Alexander, without writers, Producers and Directors would stand around with nothing to do. Lol

Lisa Clemens

Even Stephen King is okay with having his novels changed when made into films...http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/stephen-king-isnt-afraid-of-the-big-bad-adaptation?s=mobile

Mary Ann Casalina

As one who has no experience in dealing with changes to scenes or dialogue, but I am pretty sure, I would be insistent on the main characters, and as far as story line, well that really should hold true to story line. I think its a personal matter, either you accept or you don't , keep on looking for producer who will be your rock, or keep pitchin.

Trey Wickwire

I haven't read the entire thread so this comment is based solely on the OP. For prose writers the editing process is mostly an aspect of Quality Control. In screenwriting there is more of a partnership approach. The goal of a script is not to stand alone but is just one piece of a far larger and more complex work of art. Each credit at the end of a movie is a part of the whole and they all interact with each other in a myriad of ways. All must adjust to the needs of others as work progresses. Also note, they have recently found a Picasso painting under another Picasso painting. A painter's version of a re-write? Maybe so. http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/17/us/pablo-picasso-blue-room-hidden-patining/

Marni Troop

Directors have their work edited by studios all the time.

Tim Lane

@Lisa Clemens - Stephen King should be okay with it. One of the few authors whose movie versions I like much more than the source material.

Lisa Clemens

@Tim Lane There have been a few turkeys. Running man was not one of my faves for sure!

Mary Ann Casalina

I would try to abide little changes, but main characters and scenes should remain somewhat intact, to film or not to film, that is the question, it 's all relevant to author's dependence on success.

Margaret Peirson

When you are making a film, all creative aspects have to be taken into account. But I also I believe a writer should have some input about how his or her story is being portrayed. And in my opinion a writer also has to be open minded and listen to others ,who also have a vision of what their story can portray on screen. This is a team effort. It's unfortunate, but sometimes when a book is made into a film, the story can get lost in the transition. John Grisham decided not to have his books made into films, because he wanted people to read his books... yet there are other authors, who have no problem with that for ex. the author of Indecent Proposal, Jack Englehard. I had the privilege of meeting him, and he was very pleased with the outcome of this film, because it was exactly how he wrote it. But the only negative he said, people only remember the film and not his book.... So in the end, it's really up to the individual to decide what they want to do with their manuscript, and once the decision is made, then the next process is to work through all the negative aspects, and work with others, and come up with a great film, but like anything in life, it's a gamble. It could turn out bad, but then again it could be the best film of the year....

Janet Biery

Did Grisham decide this after the Firm, and Pelican Brief, etc. - because I'm sure he made a lot of money for those? When you look at his standing as a best selling author, I'm sure the Firm starring Tom Cruise paid a part in achieving it.

Margaret Peirson

The point of reference to John Grisham, is that he is a novelist and wanted people to read his books, and probably thought he would have more say when they approached him about making his books into a film. As far as writing a screenplay and having it produced, or purchased by a major studio etc.. they do have script doctors on staff, and will take your script and revise it, in fact while making a film most times the script is revised and new dialogue etc is written, or there could be improvisation from the actors as well, and left in the film. etc... this is due in part to the creativity of the director etc.....

Michael Eddy

Margaret - "script doctors" exist - but they're not on staff. They are usually A list writers who are paid obscene amounts of money to do very fast rewrites (over a weekend - sometimes a dialogue polish only) to get a "green light" on a movie. In other words - a script is close - and the studio is on the verge of sending it out to actors with money attached - but the script needs a last minute goose - maybe to upgrade a role a bit (add funnier dialogue) to attract an A list actress or actor - or a name director. But once the movie is a go - and on location with a director and a crew - and they're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a day - the studios don't want a writer there making alterations to the script. That slows down the process and gums up the works and they - the studio - are loathe to have to replace a director in mid shoot - and do NOT want to have to shut down and go over budget. Are there actors who ad lib? Yes. Few and far between. Most aren't good at it - most don't want to do it. They signed on to do the script - they're not looking to have the rug pulled out from beneath them and have new pages shoved under the door of their trailer at 3 a.m. And as a writer - you can't pick and choose what changes you will consent to - not once money has changed hands. You take their money - you lose control. You can say leave my characters and plot alone - but it's no longer your decision. Writers - are the creative engine when nothing exists but blank pages - but once you've committed words to paper - and some studio has signed a check - you are low man on the totem pole. You do what they want - or they replace you with another writer in it for a paycheck - without your personal connection to the work (it's just a job) - and they do what they're told. I wrote a script once - a Hitchcockian murder mystery. Not bad. It was made. When the film came out - the murder VICTIM in my original script - who dies around page 15 and sets the rest of the plot in motion - not only didn't die - she was the MURDERER. Don't ask...

Margaret Peirson

Michael, thank you for your response. I didn't mean a writer changes dialogue, once the film begins, so sorry that was misunderstood. I meant the script can be worked on by other writers, who are hired to make the script more viable before filming. and that's why I said Script Doctors.....And it's sad but true, once a writer relinquishes his script, gets paid for it, their input is really not needed, but you would hope they would still be consulted.......

William Martell

My contracts also include a couple of rewrites (where I change my script based on notes from the producer or someone else) and after that I can be replaced by another writer. And that writer can be replaced by another writer after they get done with it, on and on into the night. Once you sell a screenplay it is no longer yours (that seems obvious) and even if you are the one rewriting you are doing what they want. That is how this business works. If you do not wish to have your work rewritten, do not become a screenwriter.

Margaret Peirson

Dan, I never said John Grisham was worried about selling his books. And I believe he made the decision not to have any more of his books made into films.....William, totally agree with what you said....

Jorge J Prieto

Hey some of the best films are writen,directed and produced by the same person. If one has the money or lack of depending on the project. But, when one is starting out you have do what the bosses/producers=$$ tell you. Unles you have a first time script like ROCKY, Stallone who would not allow anyone else but himself to play the title role which he created so perfectly to suit him then it was up to the director to do the rest, which he did. Movie Magic and determination by one screenwriter/actor and it paid off for everyone involved, most of all for Stallone.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Dear William. Exactly. That's why sometimes they refer to it as a 'property'... when you sell your house you have no say in what the new owners do with it... you most certainly don't go back and check if it's up to your standards ... when they renovate it. I'd be very happy to rewrite from Producer's notes. If they like it fine and if they don't that's too bad... communicating what you want is everything... but in the end it's all good... a great movie will be made to the producer's satisfaction... he's paying for it... so we're like contractors in a way... or designers... or painters. If you hold the purse strings... hopefully you get what you want in the end. If you like the feel that color gives you... you'll keep it... if not... you'll change it. I'm into Caribbean pastels this year.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

I guess I'm not done venting..... I'm really sick and tired of people complaining about how certain artists never get their work edited i.e. Picasso etc.... except poor ole screenwriters. I can't imagine somebody being hired to rewrite Alan Sorkin or Shane Black or Lance Black for that matter. If you're a screenwriter and don't like your work edited, rewritten, revamped... change it in any way... go paint a picture in watercolors or acrylic or oil if you like. Nobody will change that. It is what it is. It's there permanently. Unless someone adds a mustache. THE MOVIE BUSINESS is not a sole proprietorship. It's a huge collaboration of many many many many many talented people that contribute to the final outcome. If you're not a team player. Go write a novel.

William Martell

The real ROCKY story: Stallone had a hot script called PARADISE ALLEY that he wanted to star in, and everyone said no. He sold the script without him starring. But another company said Stallone could star if he would rewrite the script so that it could be made for $1m or less. Problem was, Stallone had already closed the deal on PARADISE ALLEY, so he told the producers that he had another script... and rewrote PARADISE ALLEY into ROCKY and sold them that. Basically double sold the same script. ROCKY was made for $1m, became a hit... and the producers who bought the "better" script PARADISE ALLEY allowed Stallone to star after all... plus direct. And I believe they may have also considered suing the ROCKY producers, I don't remember. Ron Suppa (PARADISE ALLEY producer) has talked about it before and it may even be in his book. Behind every legend in Hollywood is a truth that is usually completely different.

Margaret Peirson

Sylvia you are right.. it is a team effort....

Simon A Marlow

Writers and directors - because sometimes it works best. Some poets don't of course and touching up someone's painting would just not work in practice.

Jeffrey Paul McMahon

Why is this discourse continuing? A screenplay, like a stage play, is a blueprint to be interpreted. How many different versions of any particular play can there be? As many as there are directors (and in some cases, with dialogue altered to suit the audience!).

alexander hay

I said months ago this discussion should die. Surely I- being the initiator- should have the right to end the bloody thing? All posts are getting repetitive and boring- let's play out with a sweet lament on the bagpipes and lower the casket on the topic. Fade out.

Jeffrey Paul McMahon

Hear, hear, Alexander. It was a good topic to raise, never-the-less as I know it took me years to accept that 'it is what it is'. Cheers and keep creating.

Christopher Weatherwax

Not sure about this "Only writers get edited" stuff. Scoring compositions for a Film is constant feedback and editing changes from Producers/Director/Musicians. Composing for yourself even involves getting feedback from other Composers and regular average people figuring out what they like as well to find a good balance.

Chris Herden

Mozart had too many notes

Charles G. Masi

Guys, EVERYBODY gets edited. And, it's a good thing!

Jenny Masterton

Personally, I don't mind letting others give me noted and/or edit my work. Just trying to get the best story as possible.

Cherie Grant

Editing usually consists of correcting grammatical errors and oversights.

Michael Eddy

Lisa - good comment on Salt re: Cherie's comment about editing consisting of correcting grammar...wrong. And a novel is not a "finished product". All novelists have editors - and the best of them do a lot more than fix grammar. As to painters - they still need a smart gallery owner who knows how to light, how to price and where to hang the stuff so it sells.

Richard Toscan

Playwrights are the only writers in the US that have "hands off" enshrined in their Guild's regulations. Of course, no successful playwright declines word and edit suggestions from directors and performers.

Cherie Grant

Michael I never said they only fix grammar, but editors do do that. So i'm not wrong.

Chanel Ashley

Writers engage in a "vision" they wish to "sell" - this vision to be realised will require the involvement and investment of many people, not to mention funding - many, many hands are involved, and this vision/product is not viewed the "same" by all involved - so the end product is the result of a collective effort - a producer may love your premise, but his "vision" may require a few changes, and so with a director - some people do suggest Picasso may have been better served with a little less colour/form/style - others may have suggested Beethoven could have altered a note/chord or two - not everyone laughs at the same joke, not everyone gets the punchline - so not everyone will agree your "version" should be set in stone - you may have designed the most beautiful car on the planet, but different people will order different colours and options, in other words, a slight variation of the initial product - offer me the right money, feel free to make any changes you desire on my scripts if that's what it takes to get it made - some people are too precious, I'm not some people.

Chanel Ashley

Re "smart gallery", you're on the money, Michael - light/price/hang all contribute to a sale.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Yeah Pablo! There's too much blue in that Blue Period stuff. So, why do writer's let people change their work? For the money! As you hear all the time, a good film begins with a good script. And, everyone in film making food chain wants to put their stamp on the work. The producers and directors want to be writers and the actors want to change the dialogue to suit their tastes. But go ahead and stick to your artistic guns. Be like J.D. Salinger and don’t let them change a word or even a comma; or add a comma for that matter. Compromising for the sake of getting work is overrated.

Michael Eddy

Phillip: Salinger sold some early work to Hollywood and didn't like the way the film adaptation turned out. That's his perogative. He didn't understand the way the game was played. You take the money - it's theirs. So his option going forward was to shun the movie business and hang onto the rest of his work like it was gold - and he didn't want a word changed. Result: recluse who never had another of his books/stories turned into a film. His choice. Crazy thing is - "Catcher in the Rye" - which I personally don't think is a classic - has some of the best movie ready character dialogue that I've ever read. As a story, the main character is a narcissistic know it all who is frankly a pain in the ass - probably much like Salinger after Hollywood screwed up some early short stories (in his opinion). He also might be a bit nuts. Would've made a great studio head.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

ME: Thanks for sharing your Salinger insights. I’m well aware of them, as I wrote a screenplay about him last year that’s doing rather well on the festival circuit. I have a scene where he storms out of a theater after viewing “Uncle Wiggly” and promptly goes to a phone booth to call and complain to his agent Dorothy Olding. Though he loved watching movies and told his protégé that he was the only one that could have played Holden Caufield, Salinger definitely hated Hollywood. And there are many people that wanted to make Catcher In the Rye into a film. Salinger’s exile was self-imposed and I’m pretty sure he didn’t have all his oars in the lake.

Christopher Binder

A script is just a blue print dude. Changes are made all the time.

Michael Eddy

Phillip: I saw the documentary that was out about a year ago. Fascinating stuff. Salinger WAS a character in his own right - probably even moreso than some he wrote. I agree that he might have done justice to Holden Caufield - as they were probably one and the same. Crazy thing - I somehow managed to get through school at all levels without ever having read Catcher in the Rye. Last year - I was substitute teaching - and covering for an English teacher who was out for an extended medical leave (Lyme disease). The class was reading catcher and having daily discussions about it (was Holden in an asylum etc.?) so I asked another teacher if I could borrow a copy of the book and read it over a weekend so I'd feel better acclimated to the in class chat. I read it and was amazed at how mediocre I thought the story was. I can understand how it may have been a snesation atthe time it was published, but it didn't seem to age well (as opposed to something like To Kill A Mockingbird which is as impressive and noteworthy today). I thought it was just me - but in discussing it with the students - I didn't find many who liked the book, or who enjoyed reading it. To think it was supposedly the motivation in multiple assassins in recent years boggles what's left of my mind.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

ME: Thanks for sharing your story. I think most people I know have seen Shane Salerno’s 2013 documentary. If not, you can currently view it on demand at Netflix. It provides a great overview of Salinger’s complex personality. Like you, I’m not a huge fan of CITR but I do think some of Salinger’s short stories like “Perfect Day for a Bananafish” and “For Esme with Love—and Squalor” are quite remarkable. I also consider To Kill a Mockingbird a far greater literary achievement. It remains as powerful as when it was first published.

Chanel Ashley

I'm pleased to note I was not the only one not overly impressed with Catcher in the Rye - it was such a big deal in your country, I presumed there may have been something wrong with my appreciation, but To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful piece of writing, Atticus Finch a wonderful character - wasn't aware of the Salinger story, enjoyed reading the comments made above.

Erik A. Jacobson

Scripts do not come down from heaven on stone tablets. There is nothing sacred about them. They are subject to change just like anything else. I'm in pre-production right now on a script that I changed a little at the request of the exec producer. Trust me, there would be no movie if I hadn't.

Michael Eddy

Dan G. - usually agree with you on most things - but your comment confused me. After "we sell our product, they use it to make another product"? It's not like we sell a screenplay and they use it to build a mousetrap. The script is the blueprint for the movie. No words - no movie. Depending on the writer - a script can be incredibly detailed. I was in a class once with Ernest Tidyman as a guest - and he said that the chase scene in "The French Connection" was written out in detail, almost shot by shot. So how much credit to you give Tidyman, and how much do you give to William Friedkin for deciding where to put the camera or the editor for when to cut? I realize that things get changed from sale (or hiring a writer to write a script) to the final product - but it's all of a piece. In TV - the director is a traffic cop - he shoots what's written - no time to get interpretive and artsy. In features - the director makes more choices of a creative nature - but let's face it - the studio green lights a script - and expects it to be shot. Too much money on the line and they don't like to fire directors mid shoot and shut down the production. Do actors have input - sure. usually they screw it up. The better ones - actors and directors (Eastwood for example) shoots the script he signs on to direct. Screenwriters are like architects - they do the blueprints. Are changes made before construction begins? Yes. But once the backhoes move in and the foundation is dug and the steel and glass begin to be assembled - how many alterations do you really think get added? Screenplays are the blueprints for movies - that's "our product". Movies are the result. How's it a different product?

Charles G. Masi

NOW you've got it! Think of a script coming off a writer's desk as the original drawing coming off a mechanical designer's drawing board. Then it goes through revision after revision after revision before SOMEBODY ELSE builds a prototype, then a test engineer finds out what's wrong with it, then a manufacturing engineer tries to figure out how to get it into production, etc, etc. It may only take a village to make a child, but it takes a small city to make a film!

Michael Eddy

Charles - agree with what you say above. But a screenplay is interpreted - by many - and written not to be read - but to be filmed. A designer is creative in what he designs - and after that - it becomes a mechanical progression of building the design - done by specialists in each category. Movies are a "collaborative art", but unless each piece of the collaaboration is very good at what they do - actors, director, cinemtographer, musicians, set designers etc. - what started as a wonderful script on paper - can either end up as a wonderful movie - or be ruined or downgraded in many small ways along the way. Many think the music was a MAJOR factor in "Love Story". I agree. The original score was thrown out and a new one written. A great film can be lost in bad distribution and a bad ad campaign. Too many factors. Builders don't follow designs and do it all to code and the building collapses. Same with a film. It does take a small city - but the writer better hope its inhabitants are as talented as the words he or she delivered in the first place. Without that - you got jack.

Charles G. Masi

Sorry, bad example. If you think a technician fabricating a test fixture is any less creative than, say, a foley artist searching for just the right sound, you haven't tried doing it. Most people haven't.

Rosalind Winton

I am an editor/proof reader and I have edited everything from full novels to two or three articles for businesses. When I'm working, I do not look at content unless the author wants me to do so, I look at grammar, spelling, I see perhaps words that have been left out in the manuscript and my job is to help the author make sure the story flows properly and that the grammar and spelling is correct. You're right when you talk about the difference between painting artists and writers, but I think that is a totally different animal and one which really cannot be compared - you can't 'correct' a colour, and the different shades of any colour is down to the artist's interpretation and how they 'see' the painting. A writer has to make sure that their story runs like a movie in the reader's head - and if that is spoiled by bad spelling and grammar, it can hinder the reader's enjoyment and they won't recommend your book to someone else. The other thing is that a writer can look over their work over and over and over again and still not spot everything that might need to be sorted out in the story. I work freelance and once I've done an edit, I leave it alone for at least half an hour and then go back to it, and I will inevitably find something I didn't see the time before. Some publishers will show a manuscript to up to a dozen editors before approving the manuscript for publication, just to make sure there are no mistakes that other editors may have missed. It's not about changing the story, it's about making it totally readable, if the author I'm working with wants me to look at character and story development, I will do. I have read books recently, mainly self published books where the spelling and grammar are absolutely terrible and it does totally spoil the flow and enjoyment for me.

Steven Fussell

Because Picasso doesn't ask his audience to sit still and look at his painting for 2hrs?

Susan Schweitzer

Hi, everyone! I agree with a lot of the comments above. The truth is, the screenplay, albeit a feat to write, is only just the beginning of a production. It takes more than just the writer(s) to create a movie. I'm not sure about Picasso or Beethoven, but I'd be willing to bet that the Catholic Church gave plenty of suggestions to Michelangelo when he was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling! :-) When I had a production company give feedback on my work, I was thrilled that they took an interest. Alexander, I can understand what you mean though when they want you to change it so much that the theme and intent becomes totally distorted. I think there are many reasons why writers might accept feedback. First of all, we need these other people, producers, directors... I think if you wants to maintain the purity of your vision you need to be the Writer/Director... the true Auteur.

Charles G. Masi

NN, RW, SF, SS --- You guys are all right on the money. Except, RW, as a painter I make subtle color changes all the time, and even move edges and lines. There's an apocryphal story about a famous painter (I want to say Matisse, but I'm probably wrong) who got caught "touching up" one of his paintings that was already hanging in a museum. I'm still horrified by some of the dumb editing mistakes in my novels that have passed my dozens of editing passes, and several paid editors, proofreaders and gotten into print. I once had to console a managing editor who was close to tears because she found a dropped period at the end of one article in a 100-page magazine she'd just gotten back from the printer. THAT'S professionalism! --- CGM

Bill Costantini

wow....this thread is like 7 years old...Stage32 has been around for 7 years already.....man....ain't it funny how time just slips away......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEpSWK6WE8c

Owen Mowatt

You can laugh if you want to, Bill , but I'd prefer my afro back.

Bill Costantini

Owen: yeah....makes me think about my old Soul Train Dancer days...and how those shoes almost broke my ankles every week....ah, the good old days....here's my Head Shot from those days...I'd put one of my Dance Shots here, but you might think I need another Exorcism, and my forehead is still scarred from the last one because you pressed too hard. Heh-heh.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Bill C:

Yeah, I've never heard of most of these posters. But does that make this thread any less moldy? I read my old posts and I seem more intelligent four years ago. I'm definitely suffering a major decline. In any case, any writer who doesn't think they'll have to edit and change their work to get a major indie release or large budget film made is probably suffering delusions of grandeur. Or at least delusions of adequacy. God bless Chicago, Vegas and anywhere else Costantini lays his hat.

Bill Costantini

Phillip: I guess the original poster never was commissioned to make something like a mural, and never had to have his sketches approved before the painting could begin. And I guess he never produced TV commercials, and never had to have his ideas approved by sponsors and ad agency execs. And I guess he never wrote political ads, and never had to have everyone from the candidate to the candidate's spouse to the candidate's kids approve the 1st-20th drafts before the ad could be produced. And I guess he never was a producer, and never had to have his ideas approved by execs and financiers before a project would be greenlighted. And I guess he never was a songwriter, and never had to have his work approved by artists and execs before recording began. And I guess he never was a photographer....or a dancer....or a journalist....or an actor...or a DP....etc..etc...

And please don't post my old Soul Train Dance Shots, bro....I won't approve that, either!

Willem Lodewijk Elzenga

Good question. Why are so many films not inspiring; 'cause they lack of vision I would say.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Bill C: What do I know about songwriting? To answer that question folks can now purchase my latest digital CD at these fine establishments. (The Management of Stage 32 has no connection to this shameless plug).

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/phillipehardy1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0749RMQN4/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/theres-not-enough-room-on-my-tombstone...

Bill Costantini

Phillip: you should write "The Blind Screenwriter's Lament Blues", preferably in D# Major or B Minor, the saddest of keys - and NO DRUM SOLOS! Freakin' drummers..thinking they're studio execs, these drummers.....

Monica Fowler

I don't know, Bill, you sent me your Soul Train dance shots and I thought they were retro chic!! I definitely approve! Soul Train was the jam; wish I would have known you back in the day :)

Bill Costantini

Monica: I might have...uh... accidentally sent them to you....yeah...accidentally.... because you're a professional dancer and all, and I might have been seeking some ....uh...er...uh.. professional feedback....but...hmm..."retro chic?"....hmm...check this out...I do have this time machine here.....and I finally got the "Back to the 1970's" button working again....so...you know...just sayin'...I'm just sayin'..

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Bill C: I'm keeping the train shots for a special occasion.

Drummers are the biggest pains in the ass. Always creating drama and leaving bands. I can't count all the pickup gigs I got covering for drummer's who had relatives die, divorces, crimes of passion etc.

Bill Costantini

Phillip: no disrespect to you, bro...you're a great drummer..but you know how I feel about drummers. My drum machine doesn't eat all the food in my fridge...doesn't spill whisky on my mixing board or burn my car seats....doesn't go to the bathroom in my backyard...doesn't scare my neighbors...never needs bail money or hit on my gf....doesn't throw drum sticks or beer bottles at me...and does everything I tell it to do.

It's just like you, if you were a well-behaved drum machine that runs on solar power. Heck...it is you...and I even drew your face on Phil-Kit 3000...since all the sounds in it are sampled sounds of you playing. Which is all legal in my new home in Bhutan. Where there are no extradition treaties with the U.S., just in case you're thinking about going all drummer-loony on me at some point in the future. Heck...we don't even have diplomatic relations with the U.S. here. All you Americans are so sue-happy. And I live in a fortress that used to be a Buddhist monastery. And I trained the monkeys to bite the private parts of any person that isn't me. And most of them can fly. I'm the Alpha Monkey-Boy here, and they know who cooks and butters their monkey-bread. And it's from scratch, and not that Bhutan monkey-bread mix that they sell in the village.

And just to make it a little clearer for you, since you're a drummer, and hard of thinking...I'm not a revenge kinda-guy...that's for people with seriously deep character flaws...but you shoulda never ate all the brisket at the Sunday Gospel Brunch at Stubbs that one day 11 years ago...and you shoulda never blamed it on me. And I'm not a vengeful, Ugly American type...I'm a Loving Buddhist with some serious dance shoe, clothes and moves from the 1970's....but I'm just sayin', bro....I'm just sayin'.....and this all applies to the guy who started this forum topic seven years ago, too...whoever he is...cuz his words have that drummer vibe, too, and I know how all you drummers stick together and have that drummer network thing going on.

Gotta go now. I have a lot of fresh monkey-bread to butter before Monday Night Football begins...well... Tuesday Afternoon Football to us Bhutans...but you know what I'm sayin', bro...you know what I'm sayin'.....

Harriet Miller

I too knew a drummer once... A long long time ago... Sends shivvers down my spine just thinking of the... brrr.... so cold... must. erase. memories. trauma... Goddamn drummers... Let me set the scene: it's 5000BC (I know, I've aged well, don't come for me) and I'm what? 15, 16 years old? Yeah, that sounds about right... Me and my homies, Snake tooth and Palm tree, we were just sat in Ye Olde Rainforest, eating our curds and whey, and this guy (who thought he was a homie, but he 100%-no-doubt-about-it was not) rocks up and takes two sticks from behind his back... Now, don't go thinking anything weird happened, remember, this was 5000BC, there was no birds and bees kinda crap at this point, God was still zapping the ground every hour or two and BOOM, out of the smoke would appear a brand new Adam and Eve. Only thing that changed since the original duo was the lack of a snake, shady fruit tree, and this time they came with some clothes, just thrown together, Jesus... Jesus has no regard for fashion. Anyway, the point is, this dude with the two sticks starts hitting them against a fallen tree in a rhythm. Starts raving about how he's the star of the 'song', whatever that is. Starts cursing at some kid called Phil Collins. Dude reckoned he could feel something in the air tonight or something along those lines. Did that drumming thing for about ten minutes straight.

Long story short, the drummer changed the game.

Heather Hale

Cause it's not a finished product. At least in the case of screenwriting. It's the blueprint for other artists to come in and bring it to life as a film or television production.

That's like saying a home owner with a vision shouldn't listen to an Architect or a General Contractor that he might want to move a bearing wall for better structural integrity; or that she should ignore prudent, well-meaning advice from electricians and plumbers as to minor modifications that might improve livability, pricing, construction, etc.

Filmmaking and television, at least, are collaborative arts. The screenwriter is only contributing the plan. The foundation and inspiration usually - but the craftsmen know how to make movies and television.

If you want to write what you want with no one's feedback, then you should self-publish novels and short stories. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Shawn M Decker

Editing makes your work stronger. Even an artist sketches an outline before starting a work of art.

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