13 November, 2007

William Boyd, "Chaplin", on the strike

The Guardian:

" Film is an essentially collaborative medium - don't let directors tell you otherwise - but you can't even begin to think about collaborating if there isn't a script. You can't cast, you can't budget, you can't crew-up, you can't schedule if it's not written down. One of the less obvious consequences of industrial action is that it throws a sharp light on the crucial balances of power and spheres of influence that operate in the entertainment industry. A strike like this will also, I believe, have a longer-term advantage in that the writers may, with a bit of luck, be seen for the key players they are. The "Schmucks with Underwoods [typewriters]" - as Jack Warner dubbed his screenwriters - suddenly have some muscle. The first link in the chain that goes into the making of a show or a soap, a series or a movie - the script - is suddenly revealed as the vital one, the sine qua non

The conspiracy theorist in me has always sensed that the denigration of writers in Hollywood was an early and shrewd decision made by the producers and the studios. By rating screenwriters as lowly, toiling drones - and treating them and remunerating them as such - the elemental importance of their role in the industry was very usefully obscured and camouflaged. Also, the way Hollywood pits writer against writer through the deeply damaging process of having scripts deliberately rewritten - hiring a series of writers to revise, tinker with and polish scripts and then have them squabble bitterly with each other over the credit - is another calculating example of the principle of divide and rule. "

No comments: