Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WGA Strike Exposes Nasty Secret About Movies


In 1988 during the last writer's strike, basically only television was affected. Analysts did not see any reason that would change this time around, but then, they don't know something Hollywood doesn't want the public to ever find out.

Although it has happened throughout time, the 1990 film Days Of Thunder was essentially filming as the dialogue was being written. It was an atrocious film, but it showed that writing and filming simultaneously could be done in a big budget film. The great thing about it was that when the actor was available to start filming, filming could begin regardless of whether the script was perfect or ready or any good. Throw a bunch of writers in a room, pay them a few bucks and have them stay a day or two ahead of shooting.

At first the practice was limited to action films, or films without much dialogue. But as time has progressed and deadlines and timelines have become more rigid, the practice has increased to the point where it is now more common than not to have someone around to do some polishing, or in many cases, some major rewrites.

As you can imagine, those writers who come in and make everything better are part of the WGA. Without them, many films are just as helpless as television shows when it comes to their writer dependency.

On Monday, two more studios announced that they have postponed production of features they were about to shoot. The films were Warner Bros.' Shantaram, starring Johnny Depp, and The Weinstein Co.'s Nine, starring Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Sophia Loren and Marion Cotillard. Both studios said that the screenplays required additional work. Earlier, Sony's Columbia announced that it was delaying the Da Vinci Code prequel, Angels and Demons and United Artists said it was postponing Oliver Stone's Pinkville for the same reason.

As you see more and more films being shut down or delayed, write their names down, and check the screenwriting credits when the films finally are released. I think you will find it very interesting.

5 comments:

Unknown said...

Roberts' Shantarum is a friggin' fantastic book. I bought and read it while in New Zealand and finished it, wanted to bring it back home but it was too big (yes seriously) to fit in my luggage... so I repurchased it back in the US.

It's a great journey so it'll probably translate pretty well. Depp will be good in the role, I've no doubt, he does good with journey movies. I'd hate to think of this movie with a messed up script, so I'm glad they're postponing production.

Miss N said...

I am yet to work on a film that isn't in constant revisions while we are shooting. Hence the pretty coloured papers and the need for mulitple copies of Final Draft..

but it could just be the calibre of US films that defect to Oz to shoot...

Anonymous said...
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b said...

last minute rewrites are not the same as not having a script at all..... and usually that's something a director or someone else can do (i.e. minor changes)

ent is referring to the production starting without a script being ready... sounds like they are beginning a production w- a treatment and which, in my opinion, is shameful and explains a lot of films lately with nice concepts and weak execution, shoddy endings as well as budget overruns

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