Pros Make Mistakes Too

Yesterday I read a script by a prominent Hollywood screenwriter, which was on the coveted Blacklist and made into a film and it was terrible.  I thought maybe the script would have been revised before production, didn’t seem so, but after losing all that time on reading the script, all I have patience for is the trailer.  I don’t really need to see any more.  How do I know the film sucked?  Rotten Tomatoes.  All the reviews said the same things about the film that I thought while reading the script.

I only found out who the writer was when I Googled the title to see if it had been made.  His name was on the front of the screenplay, but it didn’t ring a bell.  It seemed to me that a new writer had written it because there were so many mistakes: spelling errors, typos, no descriptions of characters, all the characters were generic and cliche. By the end, I expected it all to come together with some great twist, but it was a big old mess.  Plots were left unfinished and I had no idea what had just happened.  The main plot had the lead change into an entirely different man for really a very small reason, so small I’m not even sure what it was.  His ‘boss’ pissed him off? There was one line of description so flippant, I actually thought, “This guy must have written this off the top of his head in one night; just purged on the page.”  Turns out it was adapted from a novel.

I have no idea how this script ended up on the Blacklist.  I do know how it got made.  Or at least, I can guess.  When a screenwriter who wrote an Academy Award-winning screenplay hands you a script, you tend not to question it. (Maybe that’s how it got on the list too.)  Plus, he directed it himself so who’s going to challenge him now?  That’s right, he won an Oscar for a previous script.  Just because you win an Oscar doesn’t mean you’re not likely to make mistakes once in a while.  Oscar-winners are people too.  Remember, Halle Berry won both an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year (for two different films).  No one can stay at peak performance all the time.

Well, it’s encouraging, at least, to know that even as a professional writer you don’t have to be perfect all the time.  It’s encouraging too to realize that even the industry gets it wrong once in a while and so our not-so-good script could get made too.  But we’re not in the business of writing not-so-good scripts, are we?  We don’t have to all be Oscar-winners, but we shouldn’t settle for doing less than our best either.