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Screenplay Writing And How It Differs From Rewriting
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Those who have not been involved with the process might believe that screenplay writing and the subsequent rewrites would be quite similar, or even essentially identical. However, this is not in any way the case. The initial writing of a screenplay is completely from the many revisions and revisions that follow during a movie making process.
The extent to which the process is different depends on several factors. One factor is the leverage of the writer. Different writers with the same screenplay would have different amounts of leverage, and the same writer with two different screenplays would have different amounts of leverage. It all depends on the history of the author and the state of the screenplay. Other factors are which studio purchases the script, which director is directing the work, and what actors are involved. Every player will accept a different amount of writer involvement.
Writers typically have much more control over the original screenplay than over any rewrites. Most screenplay writers have essentially complete control over their work before it is sold. Anything that they want to do with it they can. Characters, dialogue, settings, plot points, everything in the script is theirs to do with as they like. Once a writer has sold a screenplay, this is no longer the case. Unless there were special provisions in the sale agreement, a writer has absolutely no control over the screenplay after it is sold. The studio who buys it does.
Studios may let any number of people make rewrites on a script. Many successful actors have teams of writers who will perform rewrites so that a character better suits that actor. Many directors also have trusted rewrite teams who perform the same function. Some studios and directors will exclusively work with members of their team. Additionally, many actors will completely change or add lines while they act, which can completely change a screenplay. Some directors actively encourage this.
Studios require script rewrites for a number of reasons. Some changes may be made to change a film's rating, reduce filming costs, or to make the film more appealing to a wider obvious. Most writers of the original screenplay, especially those who are just starting out, will have little influence over any rewrites especially those made for monetary reasons.
The time it takes to write part of a screenplay is often much longer than a rewrite of that part. Many screenplay writers will spend hours on each aspect of a screenplay. Many rewrites are done on the fly and completed immediately before a scene is shot. The comedy films of Judd Apatow are one example. There will be a team of comedians writing jokes as the film is being made. Some of the jokes will be filmed moments after they are written.
All of these changes may lead to a film being substantially different from the original screenplay. For example, in the original script for The Hangover, everything in the plot was completely lineal. There was no lost time that had to be accounted for. While this was the most enjoyable part of the movie for many viewers, it was not the film that the writers initially envisioned. They essentially became employees when they sold the script; they either had to get on board with the studio's desires or get lost.
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