Note: Back in 2007, after a number of years of trying to produce motion picture
adaptations of my novels, and having a secure contract that I wrote as the owner of the underlying
work and what I wanted out of the deal, I decided to give up on Hollywood studios for films. I am
first and foremost a writer. I am a filmmaker only as a second occupation.
Nothing happens in Hollywood without a writer. That writer is seldom respected. This article covers the plight of writers in Hollywood, which includes a description of the history of film. Although I am not interested in dealing with studios myself, I have been a writer since 1970. I do have background, education and experience in film and photography, and I actually went to school for film and photography, as well as running my own dark room. I owned my own film company in 1977-78, and I do have quite a bit of writing in the area of film, although my library includes much outside of entertainment as well. My plans are for independent films.
All I peddle in Hollywood now to talent agents are the TV shows that I have, because I would like someone to produce them. They are as good or better than anything out there, but I personally do not want to work in television. I will, however, produce the films as independent films myself.
J.D. Salinger refused to have "Catcher in the Rye" made into a movie. He turned down Jerry Lewis, as well as Spielberg and Weinstein in Hollywood. His answer was no, you are not going to ruin my work.
I have been a writer a long time, many manuscripts and many years, regardless of fame. So, I would like to present this essay.
*****Writers have never been respected in Hollywood.
When you change males to females, straight people to gay people, and white people to black people, you are continuing the disrespect shown to writers in Hollywood's tainted history.
In the beginning of the film era, when silent movies came to be, it was primarily one wealthy individual with a camera who made movies, usually on the fly with no plan at all, and certainly no script. Those were the days of daring do, when anything was possible as long as you had guts and a camera.
Soon enough, still frames were included to show some dialogue or descriptions inbetween the moving frames. No writers were hired. The producer, the person who owned the camera, did this without anyone's assistance.
Times change, however, and the dawn of the talkies made it more difficult to make a good film. You needed dialogue to go along with the action.
Films are not what novels or short stories are. In a written story, you have many elements. You need not only dialogue and action, but as time passes you need character development and plot, as well as insight into the characters. In other words, a novel lets you into the minds of the characters and describes the story as a whole, almost as if the author is a god telling it.
A motion picture, unless it is narrated, lacks all of those additional elements. Since the film is action and dialogue, what matters most is what appears on the screen, and that belongs to the director.
Therefore, as the talkies erupted and actors needed to speak, a screenplay was necessary to give the film some kind of cohesion, to give the film some kind of a story.
An original screenplay not based on any other work is a separate award from one for the screenplay adaptation of some novel or story. They are two separate types of scripts. In the beginning, only original screenplays were produced, and the producer, by and large, took the credit away from the writer.
It took many years before they started giving credit to a writer, and even then it was difficult if the screenplay was an original screenplay not based on any other work, because the producer, who was usually also the director, took the credit when he could.
Screenplay adaptations, of course, were different, and they had much to do with the evolution of how Hollywood treated writers.
Today, the Writers Guild (WGA) is mainly responsible for protecting the rights of writers. The WGA is concerned mainly with the people who are employed, such as TV writers who must get paid even if the work is not produced, but they also represent motion picture writers.
When you hear that Dr. Who will now be a woman, or that James Bond will now be portrayed by a black actor, or that an entire movie is going to be done from a different perspective --- female, gay, or whatever --- you are reminded of the writer's plight in Hollywood.
Speaking as a real writer, that is, someone who has many manuscripts both published and unpublished, not just some one shot nobody, I would like to suggest that someone create a new character and a new story, perhaps better than Dr. Who or James Bond.
That is what writers actually do, they create characters and stories.
Ideas are free. Sometimes they are original, and sometimes they are old or classic ideas, but the ideas are not the issue. The play is the thing, as Shakespeare said, or basically, tell us an original, unique story.
My first two novels may serve as good examples here, although only the first was published.
My first novel was a genuinely original idea of my own with a one of a kind story. My second novel was a very old idea, but the one of a kind story was written as a comedy instead of playing it straight.
The idea means little, as you see, unless it is truly original.
It is the story that one writes that counts.
Therefore, that is what is being disrespected, the story that was written by the original writers, which now will be changed to suit some actor or actress.
Count me out.
END OF ARTICLE
Mr. J.V. Presogna has been a published writer, composer, and artist since the 1970s. His first novel, "The Truth About Eden," was published in 1975. His numerous other works include "An Extension of Relativity," and other nonfiction works.
This article was published on this web site in 2019, although it was written in 2018.