Isn't it kind of crazy that movies are made by hundreds (or thousands) of people, but so much of their success relies solely on the writer and script?

CloseTalker

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,310
Movies are obviously vast, complicated, ludicrously intricate endeavors that all require the work and passion of hundreds of people who don't get the credit they deserve. A film is shaped largely by actors, by the director, and especially by the editor in post. All of those people can help make a good movie great.

But all of those peoples' jobs are ten times harder, if not almost impossible, if the script is terrible.

Just today I'm looking through the reviews of Men In Black International, considered largely to be a bland disappointment, and you hear the same things over and over; the production is slick, the direction is fine, and the leads are working overtime to make their inherent charisma shine through. But it all crumbles under a bland, unfunny script.

I'm not caling the writer out, and I'm aware that a lot of people see that script and give it the go ahead before production, and it's commonly changed on the fly during production. But when you think about movies that have failed, it's rare to find one that you can point to as "this movie was well-written, but poorly directed so it failed". It's hard to find movies that outright fumble solely based on their acting, special effects, action choreography, etc. We're still all humans, and humans love to tell stories.

A good script can generally help prop up a lot of other aspects of a film, like acting or special effects, if they can't hold their weight. But the opposite is rarely true. And I dunno, I was just thinking about that and I find it really fascinating. It's a ton of pressure to write films, I feel like so much of what you put on that page will determine the success of a film. Which kind of makes it so fascinating that so many bad scripts get made, especially for big budget films. Do so few people in Hollywood know how to spot a bad script, and articulate why it's bad?

Sorry, this is more a rant than a question, but MIB International just got me thinking about something we see countless times in Hollywood.
 

Shugga

Member
Oct 25, 2017
15,728
*coughs in game of thrones*
Yeah I guess. You can still recognize quality of production though, but if the script sucks.. well yeah it sucks.
 

Ryuelli

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,302
I for one want to see a movie that soley relies on the strength of the catering staff.
 

kmfdmpig

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,760
That's what is so unique about film. It's a collaborative activity in which a poor showing by any of the following can severely hurt the end product:
Screenwriter
Director
Top actors
Cinematographer
 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
32,543
More moving parts, more points of failure
 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
32,543
A good script should be at the foundation of every movie
It's crazy a bad scritp can be turned into gold with the right people, and a great script can be ruined by the wrong people. It's actually crazy that Gigli level movies aren't that more common.
 

Jiminy

Avenger
Mar 29, 2018
1,813
Your misconception here is that scripts are written by one person.

The core first draft might be by one person. A lot of the grunt work might be by one person.

But often the core concept isn't by one person - it might be demanded by a studio/producers. The characters won't be by one person - they'll be written with an actor in mind and collaborated on with producers etc in such a capacity. Redrafts won't be done by one person - multiple people will be involved to ensure it fits the studios vision/brand/quality control and avoids risks/pitfalls.

This often leads to bland scripts like the one you're describing for MIB:I.
 

Osahi

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,856
Ah, as screenwriters like to say in jest about reviews:

If a movie is good, it's thanks the director. If a movie is bad, it's always the screenwriter's fault.

But it's true, it's hard to build something solid if the foundation is weak. Though their are still ways to fuck up a good script, or to turn a bad script into a solid movie.

The thing is, movies are written at least three times: once by the screenwriter, once on set, once in the editing room. It's a living process and it can go wrong on many levels, or it can turn around and become good during many stages of production too.
 

BDS

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,256
The director and producers are responsible for final approval of a script. I see this misconception a lot, but the writer (on a film) has almost no power in most cases. The buck stops with the director and/or producers.
 

Nacho

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,019
NYC
That's absolutely not true at all. Directors actors and editors I say have an equal if not greater part in it. Otherwise we'd just be reading screenplays and calling it a day. That and whoever's bringing in the crew.
 

Heshinsi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,127
Edmonton
What’s an example of a film with a decent script, competent directing, but was then butchered in the editing room? Does Kingdom of Heaven count?
 

Z-Beat

Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,200
I think it depends on the movie tbh.

For Godzilla or Fast and Furious the script doesn't carry a majority of it. But fir Citizen Kane or television (something that can't distract you with flashy visuals) it matters a ton because you need to be invested to gain anything from it. There's nothing inherently interesting about politics
 

Shadownet

Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,776
Because outside of lead actors, directors and producers. Writers are the next up in line of who get the blame or praises. Unfortunately the camera guy won't get any recognition until the credit rolls around.
 

Sheepinator

Member
Jul 25, 2018
4,714
This is above the line and below the line stuff. Those key people who are above the line set the direction and and are responsible for key decisions. Same thing in games. Everyone below the line is seen as a replaceable cog, whether they like it or not.
 
Feb 16, 2018
826
their quality relies mostly on the script

their success relies on other things

i could watch great movies/television with my eyes closed for 90% of the time and probably not really miss anything
 

Euler.L.

Member
Mar 29, 2019
562
Because most of the positions are necessary but don't have a way to improve the quality of what they a working on. Not just movies but everything.
 

Blader

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,866
Unless a screenwriter is also a producer on a movie, they have very little power over the production.

I also feel like people whose craft is in production design, effects, costuming, etc. define their success differently. If you're in that job, you're likely not in it for the recognition -- even if you win an Oscar you're forgotten by the public the second you walk off stage. So I imagine their perception of success rests more on what they can do for the movie -- are these sets convincing, does this makeup successfully transform an actor into their character, is this scene being lit appropriately -- than anything else.
 

SnakeXs

Member
Oct 28, 2017
512
I wish there were a way to see famous movies/scenes/shots don’t with the same writer and director but different production teams and DP. It’s a team effort. Final decisions are made at the top but many people work and make options and stress and dedicate to whatever their contributions are. I can’t discredit the work and responsibility of having the final say in everything as a director does, but without a solid team behind you the decision options you’re given will be shit.
 

joe1138

Member
Oct 28, 2017
197
“With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. The script must be something that has the power to do this.”

-Akira Kurosawa
 

Spiderz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
823
I’ve always wondered how a film like Godzilla ends up with the filming script that it does. Everyone could see how bad the dialogue is, but was it just not a priority to tweak or was the end product a result of tweaks? You would think a couple of more passthrougha on the script by even mediocre writers could have remedied at least some of it.
 

jason10mm

Banned
Oct 27, 2017
383
Tn, USA
I think most scripts are crap. Plenty of folms are rushed because they have a certain window with their lead actors or director, need X amount of cgi time, or have to hit a specific release date. The script is the weakest link in that machine.
 

TAJ

Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,908
But Era told me that writing doesn't matter as long as your movie is pretty.
The worst is when they go full steam ahead without a finished script, or even without a script.
 

Wally_Wall

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,020
I for one want to see a movie that soley relies on the strength of the catering staff.
Don't know why this cracked me up but it did haha

Yeah, films are like sports. To be good the whole team needs to play (work) well but if you have strong performances from important positions like QBs (Director) that can carry all involved.
 

minimaxir

Built an AI that makes better threads than you
Member
May 9, 2018
1,231
One person affecting the fates of hundreds/thousands of others is literally the case with any top-down organization. It's not limited to movies either.

Executive Meddling is a trope for a reason.
 

Robdraggoo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,418
The script that was approved from the get go, are rarely ever shot that way. Scripts are not shot word for word, page by page. They are retooled, rewitten count less times before film is ever rolled. And alot changed while filming and even when editing.

I think if you read an original screenplay, you would be shocked how little it resembles the final film.
 

VISION

Member
Oct 25, 2017
653
A well-directed movie that fails to deliver because of a bad script makes the script, typically something you forget exists due to suspension of disbelief, instead prominent. You notice bad writing if a movie is otherwise effective, because you're trying to determine what makes it ineffective.

If a movie is badly directed and so fails to deliver, there are likely many pieces of the film that failed to come together correctly. You're not going to notice good writing in an otherwise bad movie because who cares? The movie is bad anyway.
 
Jun 10, 2018
1,436
I forget who said the quote, but at one of the writing functions I went to the speaker (who wrote for Hollywood) paraphrased a director:

"The most important person in the room is /are the writers, and its our job to never let them know that"

Personally speaking as someone who is an aspiring writer it never made any sense to me the people with the least creativie input believe themselves to be more important than the ones directly driving imagination/narratives.
 

Terminus

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,539
Isn’t it crazy that animals are made up of dozens of organs but so much of their success relies solely on the heart?