Monday, June 29, 2009

why I am a playwright

This is why I'd rather be a playwright than a screenwriter, in spite of the low (or non-existent) pay. This is from a screenwriter's blog:
Back in the very early 90s I wrote this spec script called CRASH DIVE about some Bosnian terrorists who hijack a US Nuclear submarine and aim the missiles at New York City. They plan to destroy the United Nations for messing around in their country’s politics. So the Navy sends this retired naval engineer who knows everything about the submarine - but isn’t any kind of hero - onboard the sub to take control away from the terrorists. Okay, the script lands on the desk of producer Ashok Amritraj (SHOP GIRL and WALKING TALL) who loves the script but doesn’t think he can afford to make it. See, he has a deal with HBO to make original movies. I tell him the Navy will actually give him all of the subs and aircraft carriers and stuff for free, but he doesn’t believe me. About 3 years later, he calls the Navy number I gave him and they say "Sure, if the script is technically accurate, we’ll give you the toys for free." That means Ashok can make the film on the $3 million that HBO is paying.

So I get these script notes. You always get notes from actors, directors, producers, producer’s girlfriend’s, producer’s dog walkers, etc. Most notes aren’t about improving the script, they’re about changing it. You’ll probably be hearing more about that in later blogs. So I get these notes from HBO... they want me to put a sex scene in the script. The script takes place on a submarine with a crew of 110 MEN. I ask them, what kind of sex scene did they have in mind? Well, not a Gay sex scene. Um, where is the woman coming from? Hey, I’m the writer - be creative! HBO *insists* that I add a sex scene. So, I write up a sex scene. I make sure that the scene before and after cut together perfectly, so that when HBO sees how dumb the sex scene is, the film can still be cut together without it.

But when CRASH DIVE airs on HBO on March 28 1996, the sex scene is intact.

Welcome to Hollywood.
more here.

I'd much rather earn a living as a technical writer in order to write exactly what I want the rest of the time, and then make sure it isn't distorted out of all recognition. Playwrights have creative power due to the fact that they get paid so poorly. But there are plenty of douchebags in the theater world too, who think they know better than you how your play should go, so I also try to produce and direct my own work as much as possible.

The screenwriter doesn't explain how he got a woman into the script to avoid teh gay sex, but I have a suggestion: send down a robot that LOOKS like a woman and who is equipped to have sex with a man. Hell, let's use the old imagination - not just have sex with men - let's have a robot who falls in love with the hero. That's the kewlest idea ever.