This week, the focus has been around two topics – collaboration and technology.
Screenwriting is becoming more and more a collaborative affair. Whilst film-making has always been collaborative out of necessity, the days of a screenwriter sitting alone in their office banging away on a typewriter for hours on end seem to be over – certainly for the professional, working screenwriter, at least. More and more ‘tentpole’ movies are being written by committee, with accountants and lawyers having as much input as the creative individuals: Give me something that will sell! Give me something that everyone wants to see! Understandable in a way, when the studio is pumping a good $150 million plus in to the budget of most blockbuster productions these days. If a blockbuster takes less than half a billion dollars at the box office it’s often considered a failure.
Collaboration is a useful tool, certainly: throwing ideas around with other writers and creatives can produce more interesting, more challenging ideas than if I were to just sit down in front of my computer and type the first thing that comes in to my head. It seems that collaboration is one of the best ways of getting things made these days. Yet there’s still a large part of me that would rather sit alone in my office banging away at my computer.
Technology has of course helped make collaboration so much easier. Many of the ‘new’ features in the latest edition of Final Draft have been focused a lot on collaboration. Many other screenwriting tools – especially the web-based ones – focus heavily on collaboration as a selling point, too.
It will be interesting to see what shape screenplays take in the future. There’s a usefulness to the standard template for formatting a screenplay. It’s easy to read, everyone’s on the same page and there’s little room for misinterpretation. But the use of technology could change the way screenplays are presented: virtual ‘walkthroughs’ of a script, where CGI characters ‘act it out’, for example – after all, a screenplay is the basis for something visual, so why shouldn’t this blueprint be presented in a more visual way?
There are likely interesting times ahead for screenwriters and the movie industry in general, but I can’t see the standard format of a screenplay going away any time soon.