Mystery Man has chronicled the backlash against Diablo Cody and while some element of it is from jealous sexist wannabes, she really doesn't help herself. This is from her latest blog entry:
"The posters for the movie say "A Film By Jason Reitman." To wit: Jason has rightfully assumed public authorship of the finished flick. And yet, people seem to be able to accept that it’s a movie-- just a movie-- that Jason made (and made well). But with me, they conclude that Juno must be a quivering chunk of my soul that I excised with a hot knife and laid bare for the world to judge. Yes, I wrote a very personal script, and yes, I won a fucking Oscar for my trouble, but when you get down to it, it’s a movie. More accurately, it’s A Film By Jason Reitman."
I don't want to get too enraged about the vanity credit, it's a fact of the industry which isn't going to change anytime soon. It makes the directors who refuse to use it, like John August, Scott Frank, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh, all the cooler and at the top of my list when choosing who should be allowed to direct my screenplays.
I used to not mind too much if writer-directors should get it but in a discussion with Oli in a previous post, I realised that ideally no-one should get it because it is a collaboration involving lots of people who make creative decisions. Over her Dead Body, written and directed by Jeff Lowell, had the credit "a film by" at the end followed by everyone's name scrolling upwards. Writer-director Craig Mazin explained why he's refusing the vanity credit.
I do see the benefit in terms of marketing with star names being prominent. When I have a screenplay directed by Steven Spielberg then I bloody want his name in big letters at the top of the poster but as "a film directed by Steven Spielberg". He might be able to make my script better - if you can improve on pure perfection - but calling it his film is darned silly. And that's a movie-making legend, how many people saw the poster of Juno and thought:
"Nah, I don't fancy seeing that. Wait, hold on... it's ...it's..IT'S A JASON REITMAN FILM! I need to see it NOW! Oh. I've wet myself with excitement"?
Not many, I'd guess. If it was Ivan Reitman, maybe.
I notice that the writer is increasingly used to promote a film. 27 Dresses is from the writer of the Devil Wears Prada, apparently. But it's not "a film by Aline Brosh McKenna". What are the odds Jennifer's Body will have Cody's name on the poster twice like Reitman's?
It makes sense for screenwriters to just be professional and not publicly slag off their director for taking the vanity credit but a screenwriter publicly supporting the vanity credit and devaluing the importance of her own "very personal script" and the contribution of the actors and the cinematographer and the editor and everyone else involved is very sad to see.
Diablo Cody is a marketable brand name in her own right and she should stand up for herself and other screenwriters.