June 16, 2010

THE WRITE STUFF: DIRECTORS SHOULD BE ABLE TO READ

Billy Wilder, a superb writer/director was once asked if he thought a director should be able to write. His answer was: “No, he should be able to read.”
This quote, taken from Ken Levine's blog, is something that every director should tattoo behind its eyeballs, put it on an mp3 and have it play on a loop during the night, so that they never, ever forget it. Levine goes on to explain a few things, and I urge you to read him, because they are true things, especially...
No, the real reason writers want to direct is this: directing is easier. Sure there are long hours, a million stupid questions (who gives a fuck what color the floss is? It’s floss!!), difficult actresses, and Faye Dunaway. But your job is to make something that already exists work. That’s a whole lot easier than creating something out of nothing [...] Directors also have cinematographers to make them look good, special effects guys, second unit directors, Industrial Light & Magic, editors, Judi Densch. But writers just have that blank screen. 
And a story that I left out here, recounted better in another blog and taken from Richard Walter's book Screenwriting...
The story is told of director Frank Capra, who was asked in an interview to explain precisely how he achieved that special quality known as "the Capra touch." For page after page he rambled on about this technique and that one. At great length he discussed how he had lent "the touch" to this film and to that one. And in all of these pages nowhere was mentioned Robert Riskin, who had merely written the films. The day after the interview appeared in the press, there arrived at Capra’s office a script-sized envelope. Inside was a document very closely resembling a screenplay: a front cover, a back cover, and one hundred and ten pages. But the cover and pages were all blank. Clipped to the "script" was a note to Capra from Robert Riskin. It read: "Dear Frank, put the ‘Capra touch’ on this!"
That's what I mean. Unless you are capable to create something out of nothing, and that is what writers do, what nobody else does, what we do, we face the emptiness of the blank page and the void of our imagination on a daily basis, be respectful to us.

You directors. You studio executives. You actors. I sure as hell am respectful to directors and actors, especially actors, and those who have read this blog know that I am. They are not props. But unless you can create on your own, be respectful.

If you cannot do that, fuck off. Because I can still create without you all.

It's only then called a novel.

You, on the other hand, cannot do shit without people like me.