Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who's rewriting my script?

The topic on every screenwriter’s lips at the moment seems to be the Amazon Studios weird screenwriting contest/crowd-sourced work/publicity stunt hybrid.

John August has already weighed in on this on his blog, as has Craig Mazin and Michael Ferris at Script Magazine. Between them they’ve covered everything – the strange overall idea, the 18-month lockdown on selling your script to anyone else, the idea that someone you don’t know, online, is going to be in a position to rewrite your stuff. Maybe badly.

That last bit is the bit that really makes me feel queasy. I mean, I’m not naïve, I know stuff gets rewritten. But at least when a studio hires another writer, there is at least some chance that you will know that other writer. Like, know their real name. It won’t be Spankypants88 rewriting your baby, it’ll be some journeyman screenwriter having another pass at it. And you might actually get paid properly, in some transparent manner.

There’s a lot that stinks about the whole deal that Mssrs. August, Mazin and Ferriss have already outlined. So my only other comment on it is that it’s a shame Amazon decided to go this way. They obviously want to break into the industry in some way and they obviously have money to spend. So why not run a proper screenwriting contest or scholarship programme instead of this cheap and nasty piece of screenwriter-baiting?

Well, there is one end result of the whole thing and it’s called column inches. Maybe no publicity is bad publicity?

In other news: rewriting. God, I hate and love it at the same time.

I’m in the process of a big “throw out the bath water and hope the baby hasn’t gone with it” job at the moment and one thing I will say: it hurts but sometimes you have to try something radical to save your script. Don’t be afraid to start again, or feel like you’re starting again. Maybe it’ll be better, maybe it won’t. But at least you can say you’ve tried everything – and there’s always the original draft to go back to!

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