Friday, July 23, 2010

Writing someone else’s vision

I’ve spent the last week working on a short script based on someone else’s idea. This wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea but a. I never get ideas for short films, only features and b. I figured it would be good practice for down the road.

After all, they say most pro screenwriters make most of their money through rewrites or spec assignments. No harm getting used to walking to someone else’s drumbeat.

I’m sure most of you have read stories of the good old days. The days when a writer sat down at their typewriter, knocked out a script they thought would be entertaining, and sent it off to their agent with no thought of marketing angles, casting or franchises. I don’t know for sure if those days ever existed, or if they’ve been created in people’s memories like my recollections of glorious Irish summers spent entirely in swimming togs.

Either way, it all seems pretty anachronistic in the face of comic book (and novel) adaptations and things like four quadrants. Writers now seem to write brilliant specs mainly in the hope of using them as samples – with the aim of being chosen for lucrative rewriting work, or even better, heading up a new franchise. Are the days of the spec film gone forever? I really hope not.

In the meantime, it’s been good for me to write something that didn’t come from my own brain. It forces you to put aside your own vanity, to see someone else’s idea as a springboard. Cos some day, that other person could be a 15 year old Hollywood exec, who has an idea for a script about a giant female robot who takes over Wyoming. And I’ll have to nod and smile, and not kill them.

All practice….

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