"Lost (Acoustic)" by Coldplay is having it's way with my iTunes as I type. I have wanted to write about this for a short while, as it's something that, as a screenwriter, I feel very strongly about. There's no doubt that the screenwriter is the most abused role in the film industry - except for that of the person who scoops up horse shit in between takes (but, alas, I have been there too). The screenwriter's job, and direct lack of acknowledgment, is analogous of the modern music producer; often the 'creator' of the content yet never the final deliverer. The screenwriter is the composer of the music as the director is the conductor of the orchestra. I don't mean to intimate that the director's role is less meaningful or artistic, I simply wish that the 'creator' of the actual piece would get the appreciation that he or she so obviously deserves.
I am, of course, speaking of films that don't share a writer and director. There are certain filmmakers that, though I still don't agree with, are more tolerable when snatching such a credit as "A Film By" or "A ________ Film". Such directors may be Quentin Tarantino, Charley Chaplin, Clint Eastwood or even Christopher Nolan; who have all shared multiple credits on multiple films, be them in the disciplines of direction, writing, acting, or score composing. No, this rant - some may call it that - is directed at those directors, famous or not, who worked for the 'director credit' and so traditionally take the "Film By" credit as well; as if they were entitled to it. An unwritten rule.
Is it really A Film By Them? Or is it an immense collaborative effort? A collaboration of cinematographers, actors, producers, grips, gaffers etc... not forgetting the inventor of the material, the writer. (More and more writers these days are optioning novels, books, short stories or real life occurrences, thus loosing some points for originality, but we won't get into that now. For I to am guilty with my recent bio-pic script "Allenbury". It's no coincidence that the "Best Adapted Screenplay" category at the Oscars held such viewed films as "Curious Case of Benjamin Button", "Doubt", "Frost/Nixon". "The Reader" and "Slumdog Millionaire" while Best ORIGINAL Screenplay housed the less prolific "Frozen River", "Happy Go Lucky", "In Bruges", "Milk" and "Wall-e" ["Milk" of course built upon a preexisting character).
Don't misunderstand. I am not saying that the writer should get the "Film By" credit all to themselves because they mindfully birthed the content. What I am saying is that the credit should all together be abolished and the glory thereof should be shared. "The Wrestler" stands as a shining example. As I sat in a dark, ghetto theater and the house lights dimmed, the credit "A Film By Darren Aronofsky" appeared on screen. I thought to myself "Hmmm. I thought Mickey Rourke was the big thing about this movie?". I watched the movie, in awe, of it's genuineness, complexity and depth. But it occurred to me rapidly that Darren, as much as I admire him for this work on 'Requiem' and such, had very little to do with that magic that jumped off the screen, beyond my over-priced popcorn, and into my willing mind. It was the words, the performance, the style of shooting that I connected with effortlessly. And yes, Darren had a huge part of that creation and I would never deny him that, but did he really, truly, deserve the entire film?
Call me a whiny screenwriter if you will. Truth be told, I have not even enough credit to complain from experience, only from philosophy. In my latest screenplay deal, when optioned, I had it written into my contract that "Any director that any and all production companies, studios or motion picture facilities now known of hereafter invented throughout the universe, contract on to the picture in the event of purchase, development and production shall not receive “A Film By” nor “A [Directors Name] Film” credit at any point during the film’s running time, marketing, distribution or design."
Long live the writer.
writing (severely) under the influence,