Screenwriting Seems Nearly Impossible Today

Writing seems nearly impossible today. When I was growing up, writing a screenplay would consist of spending hours working on a script and then send it around. The hard part was getting an agent to read it and agree to represent you. Then the independent film age came about. If you had that gritty twist on an old idea, you could finance the movie yourself and get it out to Sundance for someone to pick it up. Now, you have your studio in your pocket on your mobile device. While it could be so much easier, it is so much harder.

In the flood of content out there in the interwebs, it would be nearly impossible to get noticed. It is similar to the flood of scripts a reader would get. Now, you kind of take their job away by filming a movie and releasing it online. With some hopes that someone, with any clout, could see it and want to give you a job. The only problem now is that online short will probably be the only original piece of material you will do ever again.

Many of the online articles or tutorials will tell you how to work on your new idea but that most likely it will never be made. You will write an original script that will be circulated around to studios, but while they will pass on your original idea you will be brought in to work on their fourth installment of a franchise that is losing steam. Not only that, you will most likely be the umpteenth writer to try and give a fresh take on a tired story.

You will be brought in to punch up scripts, dialogue or be part of some studio think tank that is trying to come up with the next big shared-universe. You will most likely never write an original word for your original idea again. At least, within the studio system. Many of the new writers that hit the scene are working on a bunch of scripts that are part of franchises or takes on weaker scripts. Think of someone like Aaron Sorkin. He writes many incredible scripts with his style but when was his last original idea? Charlie Wilson’s War or The American President?

What will eventually happen is that you will make enough money (hopefully) in the studio system – and create an impressive track record – that you can find a small studio to fund your pet project and become the next Hell or High Water or Baby Driver.

It is sad that making movies within the studio system nowadays will result with you working on some franchise that they wish to continue or resurrect. You may be lucky enough to be given the opportunity to create a franchise from some studios vault but that would require some major luck. However, with news of many people jumping ship from franchises as of late, the life expectancy is short.

It is sad when you look at many of the classic movies on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon and think that many of them could not be made anymore due to social sensibilities. That is a major hindrance as social media allows the select few to shout their ignorant opinion to stymie artistic freedom. Think of Blazing Saddles being remade with a white director. That would set off a Twitter firestorm.

It is sad that making an original movie would be difficult. Becoming a writer in Hollywood, that is even more difficult. You would have to make a choice and see if not writing anything original would be okay to you. This explains why cable television seems to be the place to go to tell original ideas or even to Netflix or Amazon. The studio system could get you that nice paycheck but smaller projects will satisfy your creative process. It’s a choice you would have to make and understand why original writing seems nearly impossible today.


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