Saturday, April 05, 2014
"Tales from the Script": Screenwriters have to write what other people want for a living
“Tales from the Script” (2009, directed by Peter Hanson) presents 105 minutes of clips of screenwriters talking about their craft in Hollywood.
Maybe Ron Shelton (“Under Fire”, 1983, about three journalists in Nicaragua) sums what I feel up when he says, “I can’t write it unless it’s about me.” That is, he echoes the same sentiment as the romance novelist in Pedro Almodovar’s “The Flower of My Secret”.
But screenwriting is not like writing a novel. It is precise, a mental extreme rendition. Except that at a certain level, it is like other authorization. You need a high concept. And something more than “put Mafia and vampires together(“Innocent Blood”).
Screenwriters are characterized as “egomaniacs with low self-esteem”. The problem is that there’s a real schism between saying what you want, and getting paid to say what other people (including the performers) want.
“Our complaints are nothing like those of people who are pipefitters for a job. For us to complain about being asked to make a change to our story, well…”
The first film discussed is “Ghost” (1990), and I do remember “Sam”.
“This is my masterpiece and they screwed it up. But they paid you for it.”
Toward the end, “Adaptation”, about twin screenwriters, is mentioned.
Stephen Susco (“The Grudge”) had written dozens of unpublished screenplays before he “made it.” And there’s mention of “Go Fish” and “Finding Fish”.
“Nobody wants your stuff”. Until they do.
The DVD and instant play are available from Netflix.