Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lazy Sunday # 299: Screenwriters

Screenwriters. You can’t make a great movie or TV series without one. They are the spark which ignites the creative flame.

The image we screenwriters have of ourselves and our trade is an almost holy one. Dedicated. Ethical. Seekers of truth and lucid communicators of the human condition. The smartest guys in the room. But quiet about it and not at all stuck up.

We are the reason everybody else works.

Steven Spielberg steps onto the stage at the Academy Awards and intones, “In the beginning there was the word…” and the rest of the auditorium silently nods –- and we know he’s giving us the props we deserve –- and hope our quote ticks up, when that mantra is repeated at our next meeting.

We attend endless seminars and conferences where those with recent credits or a bundle of past triumphs speak in hushed tones about “the craft” and “passion”.

We laud those fellow scribes who were blacklisted for refusing to water down their vision. We toast those who never gave up no matter how often they were put into turnaround or had their series cancelled before it was given a chance.

We’re all about courage and determination and not going home until it’s perfect.

And several times a year one of us writes “Sharknado”.

“The Lone Ranger”

“A Good Day To Die Hard”

“Battleship”, “Alien 3”, “Green Lantern”, “Red Sonja”, “Xanadu”, “Super Mario Brothers”, “Catwoman”, “Battlefield Earth”, “Megaforce”…

I’d include all the Canadian films Telefilm has pumped tens of millions of your tax dollars into, but I wanted to mention titles somebody has actually heard of.

As Screenwriter William Goldman, a worthy role model and, let’s face it, pretty much a God to most of us who share his trade, said in his inimitable “Adventures in the Screentrade” -- No studio executive ever goes home to his wife and says, “Guess what, honey! We decided to make ‘Megaforce’!”

Except that one of them did.

And some screenwriter wrote it.

And likely got a development deal for “Megaforce II – The Return of Ace Hunter”.

And I’ve always wondered who these guys are. Where do producers find them? And what makes development execs fall under their spell, never asking the tough questions they level at the rest of us?

Who decides to park “craft” in a drawer for the weekend and churn out “Identity Thief” or “The Last Exorcism: Part Two”?

Who’s the guy pissing on Dalton Trumbo’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, muttering “Paddy Chayefsky was a hack” in Starbucks and not wearing their cardigan over their shoulders with the sleeves tied in front?

Well, I think I’ve found him. And he’s all too real and unsettling.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

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