Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Tales From the Script


Everybody knows the director. Thanks to the French, who came up with this crazy idea that the director is the author of the film, they are almost as big as the stars. But there are four other people who are responsible for how a movie looks and works: the editor, the cinematographer, the production designer, and the writer, and of these the most important is the writer. (I know, I’m prejudiced, but the fact is that until the writer puts words on paper, you have nothing. Just a lot of hot air blown back and forth by a lot of people who couldn’t create a picture if their lives depended on it.) This movie could form the third leg of an excellent trilogy with two other films we’ve seen: Visions of Light, about shooting the film, and The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing. (I think someone has made a movie about production design, but I can’t recall the title.) This is not great film-making. It is the ultimate talking-head movie; aside from a few clips from movies about screenwriting, it is nothing but talking heads. But what heads! Front and center is the most successful writer working today, the great William Goldman (there is even a featurette about him in the DVD extras), but there are dozens of others, great and small. Many of them have written movies that I consider to be pretty awful, but no one is precisely ashamed of this—something that, as the author of a pretty awful movie, makes me feel pretty good. As Goldman says, “Nobody sets out to make a turd.” But there are so many ways a jewel can become a turd …