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What screenwriters go through in the revising process


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#1 Gina

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:08 PM

As promised, here's Bill Corbett's blog post on the writing -- and revising -- of Meet Dave.

When I saw the trailers for this film, at first I couldn't quite fit it together in my mind with an MST3K alum. The post explains a lot. As I said in another thread, the situation is sad -- all the more so because it sounds so very routine for the current film industry -- but Bill is very gracious about it.

Not being involved in the industry myself, I will now bow out and let you creative types run the discussion. But I reserve the right to read it with interest. smile.gif

Edited by Gina, 14 July 2008 - 11:51 AM.


#2 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 09:36 PM

Hmmm, we don't have a thread on this film in the main 'Film' forum yet -- should this be moved over there, perhaps?

#3 Gina

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:32 AM

I put it here because Thom(asher) posted a plea for more threads in this forum, so I kind of hate to move it. We could copy it, though, if that's not against site rules. Would it be all right to have two similar threads in two different forums?

#4 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:47 PM

Well, threads for discussing films -- which is what this seems to be -- generally go in the main 'Film' forum.

The 'Filmmakers' forum is for discussion by those who are involved in making films -- and if no one involved in the making of Meet Dave takes part in this thread, then arguably this thread would belong in the main 'Film' forum instead. Arguably.

(The wording at the top of this forum may be a bit vague, though; one COULD read it to mean that "those actually involved in the art" would be able to discuss "the making of films" that they themselves had no part in making. But since we regularly post links to filmmakers discussing their work in the main 'Film' forum, I would say that this thread seems to belong there, for now.)

#5 Gina

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:04 PM

QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Jul 13 2008, 10:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The 'Filmmakers' forum is for discussion by those who are involved in making films -- and if no one involved in the making of Meet Dave takes part in this thread, then arguably this thread would belong in the main 'Film' forum instead. Arguably.


Yes, that's why I wrote, "Not being involved in the industry myself, I will now bow out and let you creative types run the discussion." And I asked before I posted the thread if I should post it here to help jump-start a discussion for screenwriters about what it's like to have people messing with their creative control (as you say, the rule at the top didn't say that people were only supposed to discuss the making of their own films), and people said they were game.

But if it's inappropriate, I'm sorry, and please feel free to go ahead and move it, or have it moved.

Edited by Gina, 13 July 2008 - 11:05 PM.


#6 MattP

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:24 PM

QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Jul 13 2008, 10:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Well, threads for discussing films -- which is what this seems to be -- generally go in the main 'Film' forum.

The 'Filmmakers' forum is for discussion by those who are involved in making films -- and if no one involved in the making of Meet Dave takes part in this thread, then arguably this thread would belong in the main 'Film' forum instead. Arguably.

(The wording at the top of this forum may be a bit vague, though; one COULD read it to mean that "those actually involved in the art" would be able to discuss "the making of films" that they themselves had no part in making. But since we regularly post links to filmmakers discussing their work in the main 'Film' forum, I would say that this thread seems to belong there, for now.)

That's exactly the way I would read it. Sort of like all the critics around here are able to discuss not only their own critques of particular films, but also other critics' critiques. I've always been under the impression that this forum - underused as it is - is for filmmakers to discuss the making of films, regardless of whether or not they're the ones making the particular films under discussion. In which case, I would think that a link to this particular story about a writer being re-written by the studio would be an appropriate topic, given that the intent is to use it as a jumping off point for a discussion by filmmakers about situations like this, and not a discussion about the film itself, per se.

Maybe just a re-titling would be appropriate to define the thread as related more generally to the issues that the blog post link is meant to prompt discussion on, so it doesn't look like a just another conversation about a particular film. Not to mention a desire to not squelch the only effort in ages to get some sort of conversation started in this particular forum.



#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:52 PM

popechild wrote:
: That's exactly the way I would read it. Sort of like all the critics around here are able to discuss not only their own critques of particular films, but also other critics' critiques.

Actually, we don't have a forum devoted to critics only, and every time one has been proposed, it has been shot down. (And for understandable reasons, whether you agree with them or not; I'm an agnostic on the question myself.)

What we do have is a forum devoted to the discussion of 'Film Criticism and Appreciation', where non-critics are just as free -- and encouraged -- to discuss the nature of film criticism as critics are. And we have the regular 'Film' forum, which is where discussions of particular films go.

If this thread is for discussion of Meet Dave, then it arguably belongs in the 'Film' forum. If it is for a discussion of screenwriting in general -- and especially if it is meant to be a discussion among screenwriters themselves -- then it arguably belongs in the 'Filmmakers' forum. (I'm not sure where it would go if it were meant to be a discussion of screenwriting in general that was open to non-filmmakers.)

: Maybe just a re-titling would be appropriate to define the thread as related more generally to the issues that the blog post link is meant to prompt discussion on, so it doesn't look like a just another conversation about a particular film.

Definitely an option.

: Not to mention a desire to not squelch the only effort in ages to get some sort of conversation started in this particular forum.

Let's just say I really, really cringe at the thought of creating a SECOND dedicated thread for Meet Dave in the regular 'Film' forum if and when there is a need to discuss it there. smile.gif

#8 Gina

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:18 AM

I'd retitle it if I could, but I'm not sure how. Should I call in a moderator to help?

#9 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:52 AM

Gina wrote:
: I'd retitle it if I could, but I'm not sure how.

If the first post is yours, you can just click "Edit" and do it from there.

#10 Gina

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 11:55 AM

Done -- thanks. It's a bit clunky, but hopefully it's clearer.

As I said, I can't participate myself, not being a screenwriter, but I'll throw out a few possible discussion topics before I vamoose: How have things gotten to this point for screenwriters? Is it ever possible for a screenwriter to retain creative control? What steps could be taken to help them retain more control? If your script is revised so much it no longer resembles what it was, has the effort still been worth it?

#11 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 12:20 PM

QUOTE (Gina @ Jul 14 2008, 12:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is it ever possible for a screenwriter to retain creative control? What steps could be taken to help them retain more control? If your script is revised so much it no longer resembles what it was, has the effort still been worth it?


Not a screenwriter myself, but I think the answer is a little obvious. Filmmaking is a collaborative process--creative control rests most essentially with the director and then the producers. I suppose you could argue that the producer could have more creative control because he/she is lining up the talent. The effort is worth it to the screenwriter for many reasons: 1) earned income; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) self satisfaction that what you wrote is much better than what ended up on screen.



#12 MattP

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 05:12 PM

Solution for a screenwriter = write for TV.

#13 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 05:34 PM

popechild wrote:
: Solution for a screenwriter = write for TV.

Have you ever read Harlan Ellison's book on the writing and re-writing and re-re-writing of his Star Trek episode? In its final form, the episode -- known as 'The City on the Edge of Forever' -- is now considered quite possibly the best episode the original series ever produced. But Ellison has always griped about the various changes that were made to it, by Gene Roddenberry and by others on the writing team.

Merely writing for TV wouldn't spare a writer agony. However, some writers have had incredible success as producers/creators of TV shows. But to get there -- to create and/or produce a show of your own -- I imagine you'd first have to earn your spurs in the trenches (to mix my metaphors) ...

#14 MattP

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:29 PM

QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Jul 14 2008, 06:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
popechild wrote:
: Solution for a screenwriter = write for TV.
But Ellison has always griped about the various changes that were made to it, by Gene Roddenberry and by others on the writing team.

That's kind of the gist of what I was getting at, as opposed to a feature screenwriter. TV Writer:TV Director::Feature Director:TV Writer. In broad strokes anyway.