Monday, November 29, 2010

Did they change your script?

There is a website created by WGA writers and for WGA writers only. It's where we can rant, complain, argue and generally have some support and sympathy for our own. Not to say we always get along, there have been some pretty heavy disagreements from time to time.

There are some jokes about writers and forgive me if they offend you;
"Did you hear about the Polish actress -- she slept with the writer". 

"The writer on set, is like the hooker who's finished her work but is still hanging around. You don't really need her but you can't tell her to leave"

"Writer comes home, cop tells him his house has burned down, his wife assualted, his kids gone and his agent called. Writer reacts and says "My agent called?"

"Writers are just schmucks with Underwoods" (Jack Warner, studio head) 

There are probably many more, but those are the ones I have heard.

Then there was the time I was turned down for a writing job because I had a stammer (you know, like King George), they figured I'd write like I spoke. Really.

I posted my Christmas movie on the writer's website and got some nice comments. Then someone asked the one big question; "Did they change your script?"

This is one of the most feared subjects; the sanctity of the original screenplay. Imagine if you'rer working at a desk in an office and hand in your work, then your boss takes it to another staffer to rework and rewrite it.

This is also what often happens to writers; other writers rewrite them ad more than often, other writers rewrite the other writers. Sometimes it does make a better screenplay, mostly it creates mediocrity. TV writing is a hotbed of changes and since their schedules are shorter and more often (a TV show has to be filmed for every week) they change the script even when the episode is being made.

Features are different, since it is a one-of; not a series of films, but just one. Changes are also made, and on set but generally it's not as hectic as series.

So, did they change my beloved script? Short answer, "yes".

Did I mind? No.

First of all, it was about 75%  of my original words, for a writer that's a huge success. But they changed several scenes but this was done for a simple reason; the budget of the film was incredibly low, they filmed it in 12 days which is an almost unbelievable schedule.

And as I said in the previous blog, they filmed it in late August in blistering heat. Lots of fake snow had to be used. And they had to take some outdoor scenes I wrote and put them indoors simply because the outdoors couldn't be filmed. So several scenes were changed to indoor sets and they worked well.

There were some dialog changes but that's natural as actors and director often change bits of dialog here and there to make it sound more natural. I don't mind this either. And I don't really want to be on the set because then they'll ask me to come up with a line and I really don't want to. It's their baby now, they can diaper it.

It's also a screenplay that I knew would be made by others and I have the ability to let it go when they pay me. If they want more changes, I'll do them, but only if they pay. And that's WGA/WGC rules so I'm not being fussy.

The only thing I didn't like was that, in their haste, they didn't have time to grab more reaction shots or do another take or two that was better than what they had. But that's time and money.

And after all that, I liked the movie, it wasn't all mine, but 75% was and that's more than I expected. And I'm onto my next Christmas screenplay, even with all the Christmas movies out there, they want more.

(Thurs: Planning that damn reading this time for sure)

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