I’m slowly coming to the realisation that very few of the producers or directors I deal with have any idea about ‘the rules’ of screenwriting.
Very few, bordering on none.
Passive tense, camera angles, we sees, wrylies – they just don’t care; and don’t even know they’re supposed to care. Not that this is a bad thing, it means they judge a script purely on the story it tells rather than the way it’s laid out.
So if they don’t care who does?
It seems to me the only people who know anything about these sort of things are writers who either make the effort to find out or attend courses; which, judging from some of the poorly formatted scripts I’ve been reading recently, is a very small percentage.
Or perhaps, they do attend, but don’t pay any attention?
I find myself bending over backwards trying to describe a scene without resorting to a camera reference which is shorter, punchier and much more descriptive, only to have a director or a producer suggest I add a tracking shot here or a pan there.
And I think to myself, what is the point? If the only people who care about this are other writers who have zero influence or power, why bother trying to stick to these ‘rules’? Whose fucking rules are they anyway? The people who care don’t make the decisions and the people who make the decisions don’t care.
Or at least, they don’t at the level I’m working at.
Here in the shallow end of the pool, none of the people I work with use readers – they can’t afford/don’t need them. The people I work with tend to read scripts themselves. They don’t care about format, they just want it vaguely readable, yet I am very strict with myself about sticking to ‘the rules’.
Well, okay, not very strict, but fairly strict. I tend to look the other way every now and then.
Well, as I get better, my scripts get shown to more and more people. Casting agents are getting hold of my scripts and sending them out to actors, so who fucking knows where they’ll end up? I know it’s not important at the level I’m working at, but higher up the tree – no idea. Maybe companies with more money are more strict about these things? I really don’t know, but I’m not prepared to take the risk.
With dozens of copies floating around cyberspace, I don’t want one landing on the desk of someone who might dismiss my work for being incorrectly formatted. A well formatted script takes little more effort than a poorly formatted one, so why not just do it anyway?
Personally, I think it’s great that the guys and gals I deal with don’t care, but sooner or later I may hit someone who does and I want to be prepared. On the other hand, when I see writers on forums arguing over minor format issues, it just makes me giggle – it’s not worth getting bent out of shape over, just make it vaguely legible and move on.