Thursday, 7 March 2013

Respect yourself and others will respect you? Not if you're a screenplay writer, apparently.

For once (or perhaps more often than that, who knows?) Confucius is NOT WISE.

Long a caveat to other screenwriters.

I respect myself as a writer. For sure, I have loads of moments of self-doubt - it goes with the territory - but, in my heart, I know my writing pleases me and, unexpected bonus, it pleases other people too.

SO... a script I wrote (commissioned ) - I did the rewrite as required and it was approved.  N.B. This was all unpaid but I was happy that my work was being taken seriously and that some 'names' had loved my script and wanted to be a part of the film.

Imagine this is a woman!
I requested that I was to be kept in the loop and that any subsequent rewrites would be down to me. This was agreed.  "Keeping me in the loop" seemed to entail occasionally posting things on the film's Facebook page.

So one of the posts was "Final script adjustments are being made and should be complete in the next couple of weeks.'"  WHAT? When I queried this, the response was "just tweaking a few things here and there to get it to work. I will send you what the team has come up with."

No script arrived. No response to my repeat request.

Next post:  

"I have been approached (WITH FUNDING) for the possibility of turning (the script)  into a FEATURE FILM!! This funding is a substantial amount of money and the investors are anxious to see the SHORT FILM version.....So,we really have to make tracks on getting this done now guys!!"

When I queried this, here was the response: "We have been offered £15,000 and an extra £10,000 to make the feature film,this offer is subject to the completion of a 'satisfactory' short film that we are in the process of making." 

  I asked if I would be the writer for this, as he hadn't said.

"Would love you to BUT it's a MASSIVE job,probably best to wait to see how the short film comes out before we start putting too much effort in."

We discussed payment as I said writing a short for nothing was one thing, but a feature length....

"There would definitely be money in the kitty for the script writer"

Still no script sent...

Next post on Tuesday of this week: "Casting now well underway for Amy..." AMY? WHO'S AMY? There was no Amy in the script I wrote and that was "loved"

I asked who Amy was. (The post has since been deleted!)

I queried this. (It was becoming very tedious!)

Here is what I was told:

"We have had to completely change the whole script that you wrote.The producers and investors were not happy with most of it.We had numerous meetings but in the end they had to bring in another script writer to amend it the way they wanted it.We will still credit you for the work that you have done for us and we are extremely grateful for your part in the growth of this."


"Professionals analysed your version. I'm afraid it was found that your ideas were inadequate for the project. Money had been invested and the investors were not happy, so they took my ideas(like you did) and got their own version written."

And finished  with that well-worn phrase: "That I'm afraid is how this business works."

 I am a professional. I KNOW writers get replaced. I ACCEPT THAT. THAT'S FINE. REALLY.

What is NOT FINE is the way in which this was done.

I requested, and, surprisingly, was sent the new version - plus the praise and the WOWs! and the compliments that it was so much better than the first version (mine)

Here is my honest and objective (as possible) review of the new version (which was a million miles away from the brief I had so carefully fulfilled)

"The flashbacks are helpful, if cumbersome, in giving a bit of back story, but the dialogue is dull and 'on the nose', there are far too many characters and subplots introduced in such a short piece, there is no subtext, and the story has become lame and cheesy because of the mother's advice at the beginning being so very predictably fulfilled at the end. You read that bit - the flashback with the mother - and you already know what the ending will be. There is no surprise or subtlety."

I have requested that my name is NOT credited alongside this film. I fear for my reputation.

And I consider I have had a lucky escape NOT to work with a group of people so low in integrity and so lacking in courtesy and respect for a writer.