Creating a film is a process that involves a wide group of people operating in various unique roles both off and on the set. It is a collaboration, which is sometimes difficult, especially if you have played a large part in the conception of the film.
Debatably one of the people who must let go the most is the screenwriter, who creates the blue print on which a film is created and, once releasing control of the project to the production team, may have very little to do with the film going forward.
1. First Drafts aren’t perfect
Writing and re-writing is a part of being a Screenwriter. So you’ve spent a year locked away writing this film and you think it’s perfect? Bad news… It isn’t and you’re going to need to write and hone, and shave pieces off your script and rework certain parts (nobody is perfect straight off the bat!). A first draft is an amazing thing to have achieved, but just keep it in perspective, even your favorite films had many drafts before they were completed and made it to production.
2. The Directors vision is not your vision
If you have ever spent time reading screenplays online (and we encourage you to do so as it is a fantastic way to enhance your craft) you will notice that there are plenty of variances between what is written and what has actually been born on-screen. As a Screenplay writer, if you are not also directing, you have to accept the fact that you are delivering your idea into the hands of someone else to interpret. The scene that you vividly created in your mind’s eye can easily be interpreted a hundred different ways by someone reading it for the first time. As creatives, we draw on different experiences when it comes to film. You have to let go of the idea that the film is going to turn out EXACTLY how you wrote it.
3. The Character on the Screen is not the Character in your head
This may seem obvious, but it is a follow on from the first point. When you hand a Director a screenplay, he or she is going to interpret it, as are the Producers and the Cinematographer and of course the Actors are too! While the Director will give some direction (duh! It’s in their title) an actor is going to deliver the character in their own special way. No two Actors are going to be able to interpret the script the same way and it is an exercise in letting go to accept that an actor may not portray the character exactly as you had envisioned it. There are also multiple factors on the day which may affect an actors performance. You just never know!
4. Screenplays + Cutting room floor = Your Life
Sometimes a scene is not going to get filmed or it is going to get altered. This is part of the business of filmmaking and while it is dissapointing that that scene you were totally in love with isn’t going to happen, it is something you have to let go of. Maybe the Director didn’t like it, maybe there wasn’t the budget for it, or the action was better described in a different way. Whatever the reason, you can’t be married to any part of your work, film is an ever growing and changing organisim! You have to learn to accept that!
5. Fame, Fortune, Recognition!
Soooo… being the writer of a screenplay is fantastic and you are an amazingly talented individual! And now you’re thinking, “yes, here comes the fame and fortune…” well…
Thing is… sometimes you might get forgotten when all the gratitude and congratulations is being handed around. It also takes a long time to craft fantastic screenplays, so whereas Directors can jump from project to project… you are going to be doing a lot more honing your craft (see the first point!). But without you dear Screenwriter… well… there would be no film! So it’s small compensation, but just know that you are the cornerstone of a project, and without you the project couldn’t go ahead.. just don’t except many people to acknowledge that!