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Sunday, October 10, 2004

MONSTER ETC.

I am still reading John Gregory Dunne's Monster, though it's not a truly compelling story. It's a peek into a world I will probably never inhabit, where writers grouse about working for six figure sums because they have to do 'free' rewrites, e.g. 'we did four rewrites in 17 days, three of them free.' (Some people would consider seventeen days a short amount of time to do one rewrite, but that's Hollywood: hurry up and wait.)

It seems amazing to me how much rewriting goes on in the feature world. I am not convinced very much of it results in better scripts. In Monster, for example, the Dunnes do five drafts of Up Close and Personal, only to be taken off the project. Then other writers get their mitts on it. Years later the Dunnes are hired back onto the project to rewrite their very first draft. Everything else is out the window. But development execs must justify their salaries. And, to be honest, there is the occasional 3000, that is developed into an entirely other hit movie: Pretty Woman started as a dark tale about reality.

I do still think I prefer TV. Sometimes you write a really great script, sometimes you misfire, but almost of your stories wind up on the screen.

At the same time I am hard at work on Unseen and it slowly seems to be getting better. I used to spend less time on features, and I'm really trying to learn to perfect a script, to subject it to the kind of hard critical eye that my former writing partner is so good at, without just getting sick of the whole thing and junking it. (Getting sick of something and junking it is generally a bad idea. You are not always the best judge of your won work. Though sometimes you need a rest from something you got too close to.)

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