Friday, November 13, 2009

The Re-write Writing Credit

I've already been asked a couple times about the writing credit on this project so I thought I'd post the details here:

I won't be getting a writing credit on this one. But the director will give me some other kind of credit -- perhaps Story Editor or some made-up thing.

On normal movies the Writer's Guild of America has rather explicit rules regarding who gets writing credits on a movie and, in fact, is the final arbiter in disputes -- being able to override even the makers of the film.

But this isn't a WGA signatory movie so the credits are pretty much just whatever the company making the movie says they are and the original writer has ensured he gets sole credit on this -- probably so that the producer or director doesn't come in and poach a writing credit. And I certainly don't blame him for that!

Had this been a WGA signatory movie, the writing credits would be wrong on two counts -- the actual credits would likely be "Story by" the original writer and we'd share "Screenplay by" credits since much of the characterization, text, and ending is new, though there's a fair bit of the original left in there and the new stuff is pretty much an outgrowth of the original material.

The other wrong bit is the made-up Story Editor credit. The WGA is a stickler for making sure that companies don't start inventing these sorts of credits and giving them to every guy in the production who had some input on the screenplay or has enough pull to force their name into the credits because they offered a few suggestions -- it's a way of protecting writers from having their labor diluted.

Finally, I'd also be wrong here to specifically suggest what the writing credits would be -- I'd have to wait and let the final arbiters determine it.

Just like a b-

If you read the screenplay for The Dark Knight in the scene in Hong Kong before Batman goes into the big bank and grabs the crooked banker, Lucius Fox shows him a 3D map of the office created by sonar and you've got the following dialogue exchange:

WAYNE: (smiles) Sonar. Just like a b-

FOX: Submarine. Like a submarine.

But in the film the exchange is:

WAYNE: (smiles) Sonar. Just like a -

FOX: Submarine. Like a submarine.

When I watched the movie I never got the joke and knew it was a joke since they shared a little smile. But I sure got it once I read the script.

This is a good example of something that works great on the page, but doesn't work at all on screen. People don't stop mid-word and, if they did in the film, it'd sound really artificial and forced.

My guess is they found out it didn't sound right during the shoot and made a fix they hoped would work.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

First re-write

I got my first re-writing assignment last week. Roughly six days to do a pretty significant overhaul on a script.

The outline and structure were all there though we did change the ending. I have to say this kind of re-write isn't so bad -- though it was intense. Basically 14 hours a day devoted to getting it done quickly.

One nice thing about this is that it'll get made, and get made quickly -- in three weeks! That's why they needed it so fast. The director had to get the script to actors considering being in it and the people who pick locations and make schedules.

This is the same director as for COP DOG, though this time it's a more Hitchcock-esque film for a Lifetime-esque audience and the budget will be a little larger. My guess is that it'll have an easier time getting a U.S. release of some sort down the line.