April 19, 1992
As an aspiring screenwriter, I greatly enjoyed your articles on the movie "The Player" and on the pathetic state of the screenwriter in modern Hollywood ("Don't Kill Me, I'm Only the Screenwriter," April 5). While screenwriters can be viewed simply as the perennial losers in the never-ending power struggle with stars, directors and producers, the recent decline in their position has not occurred in a vacuum. The explosion of the foreign market for Hollywood films, as well as the TV-driven debasement of the American spirit, has meant that sex, violence and having the right names attached to a project have clearly become the most important elements of a successful film deal.
December 20, 1998
Mimi Leder took issue with a statement by Peter Berg that differentiated writer-directors from "shooters," i.e. directors who do not write their scripts (Letters, Dec. 6). Her point is well taken that there have been many great directors who were not screenwriters. However, as a screenwriter who has also directed four features, I question, as do many other writers, why these collaborating directors feel the need to take the "A Film By" credit. You can't have it both ways. If you are a collaborator, how can you, with a straight face, claim total authorship of the film?
August 22, 1999
The widow of screenwriter Martin Goldsmith makes a case for her husband's script having been the primary determinant of "Detour" (1945) having become a film noir classic (Letters, Aug. 15). Were Goldsmith's detailed screenplay singularly responsible for the good outcome, wouldn't a remake from the same screenplay be expected to be just as much a classic? "Detour" was remade, yet the 1992 version scarcely enjoys the reputation of the original directed by Edgar Ulmer. The remake is faithful, even incorporating the 20 minutes of additional script that Ulmer excised to deliver his movie at the 69-minute length that suited his studio's desire to place the film on double-feature programs.
October 27, 1985 |
Is South Africa finally bankable? A year or two ago, says producer Gautam Das, money wasn't available for projects dealing with apartheid. Now Das is prodding a newly hired screenwriter to finish a rewrite on Das' "Biko" project about martyred black South African leader Steve Biko. "Today," said Das, "I don't think I'd have any trouble getting the rest of the money."
December 31, 1994
Responding to Lauren Bacall's "itching to get back on stage" ("Aimee: The Book Can Wait," Dec. 20): As a screenwriter, I was put off by Bacall's remark: "Can't anybody write anymore?" It's not as if undiscovered writers have abandoned their creative verve. I do believe that the majority of producers of stage and screen are not on the lookout for original material. And that in itself is another barrier writers are forced to endure. Playwriting, as in screenwriting, is a lonely and time-consuming career, but I absolutely adore writing, so I stick to it listening to constructive criticism and bypassing rejection letters.