Friday, November 25, 2005

Hollywood - Reality 101

Here is a real-world overview on writing from working Hollywood screenwriter Bill Martell who I met at the Word Player get-together in LA, June 2005:

See Bill's web site at:

WC Martell

1) Your deal usually includes a couple of rewrites and a polish. A rewrite in Hollywood is when they read your sci-fi script and ask "What if they're cowboys?" - and then you rewrite the script so that your starship crew are all cowboys. A polish is what writers think of as a rewrite.

2) Someplace along the line, you will be "let go". When that happens, some other writer will be brought in and your cowboy sci-fi script will get a note like "What if they're spies?" and the new writer will further change your story so that the lead characters are spies.

3) This will happen over and over again, for a period of yrs, until the project either dies or a star is attached nd it gets made (in whatever weird form the story is in at that time).

4) Okay, WGA says you have to be invited to the premiere (or cast & crew screening), so (unless someone "forgets" to put your name on the list) you get to see the movie that all started with your script... And you may not recognize *any* of it. I laughed at the screening of TREACHEROUS when a line of my dialogue finally made it to screen - it was the only line that made it!

5) You will probably not be involved in casting because some other writer did the draft they are shooting, but even if it's *your* draft, they won't listen to a single thing you say. For *years* I kept suggesting Sam Rockwell, an actor from the Bay Area who I met a couple of times. I suggested him for every single film that I was still involved in. The producers never hired him... and now the probably couldn't afford him (he starred as Chuck Barris in that movie Charlie Kauffman wrote and Clooney directed about the game show host - oh, Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore were his co-stars). So even if you suggest some great afforsdable actor - they won't listen. Why? Because you're only the writer, what could you know?

6) Movies are not like any other kind of writing - the writer isn't the main creative force, you're just one guy on a team