A few months ago, I mentioned a spectacularly heinous movie with some decent talent attached to it to a screenwriter friend, and he intimated that he wanted to see the movie so he could try and figure out what was good enough about the script to get it made in the first place. It was something of a game to him. The implication here is that a lot of very bad movies start out as much better scripts, and it’s often the director, the studio, or even the talent that completely fuck up what was originally on the page.
Sadly, for screenwriters, if a movie gets poor critical reception, it’s often blamed on the screenwriter, while if it gets a favorable reception, the director often gets most of the credit. Screenwriters, by and large, get little respect and most of the blame. It’s a tough trade, and not just for those screenwriters peddling to do a page-one rewrite for nickels, but even for established screenwriters, whose work often gets mangled on its way from the page to the screen by a director, a studio, or three other screenwriters that the original scriptwriter has no control over.
That’s the topic of Peter Hanson’s Tales From the Script, a documentary that features interview footage with a dozen or so screenwriters — including John August (Go), Shane Black (Lethal Weapon), Frank Darabount (Shawshank Redemption) and William Goldman (All the President’s Men). The trailer alone portends a fascinating exploration of an often maligned and underappreciated profession, as well as — perhaps — serving as a cautionary tale to those who are seeking to enter it. I doubt very much it will dissuade future screenwriters from entering the profession, but it may — at least — provide some warnings about what to expect.
The doc is set to open in March, before being released on DVD in April, along with a 346-page companion book.