Thursday, March 4, 2010

People Will Talk I – Judith Rascoe Bucks the Screenwriting Priesthood

For the unfamiliar, a "reveal" in screenwriting parlance is the placement of key, revelatory information in a story. Most times, the last reveal is the most important revelation of all.


I started a recurring type of post a few months ago called Studio Stories. It recounts film-related tales I find worth repeating. But it is usually sufficiently thought-provoking that I need to comment, making the thing longer than it would be as a stand-alone quotation.

Today I begin a similar recurring post, but in this case it will strive for brevity. If I comment at all, it will be brief. I call this one, People Will Talk, and it is intended to be a self-standing post that has something significant – thought-provoking or humorous – to say about the worlds of writing, books, screenwriting, and movies. Here’s the first one:

Screenwriter, Judith Rascoe, (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Havana) in her interview in American Screenwriters, Edited by by Karl Schanzer & Thomas Lee Wright, Avon, 1993, p. 146:

...I’ve been browbeaten into putting in... description. I’m always being told more, more. Is this being said with a smile? Does he stare at her when he says this? I’m actually encouraged to write the performance. I’d think it would make the director and the actor crazy, but I know what’s happening is that, first of all, there are a lot of studio executives. They need storyboards. They sure need parentheticals. And I’ve seen in rehearsals that lots of actors are not going to bear down on the right words in that sentence unless it’s underlined. And if they misread it, the line won’t make sense... Sometimes, even with very solid actors, there are misreadings.

So, someone forgot to tell the studios, executives, directors, and actors Ms. Rascoe works with that putting in direction and performance is an offence punishable by rejection, with extreme prejudice. #


Lee A. Matthias

Quote of the Post:

When movies were good, the filmmakers and their bosses were more or less creative, intellectual, cultural equals.  Unfortunately the same is true now when movies are bad.---Lem Dobbs 

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