Do Screenwriters get enough credit?

To give a short answer… no. However, that alone would not make an interesting article, so I’ll say more. Since I’m being forced to use more words, I’ll talk about why I think screenwriters don’t get enough credit and how it can be improved by you, the viewer. I’m sure we can all agree when… Read more »

by Cameron Lusty 3 months ago

To give a short answer… no.

However, that alone would not make an interesting article, so I’ll say more. Since I’m being forced to use more words, I’ll talk about why I think screenwriters don’t get enough credit and how it can be improved by you, the viewer.

I’m sure we can all agree when a film is very successful it’s usually the actors or directors that get the plaudits. When you think about the most successful films ever, I’m certain the first person you’ll think of connected to that film will be either one of the actors, or the director. But almost never the writer. (If you are one of those people then this is not the article for you. I suggest you do something more worthwhile with your time, you Lovely Human Being.)

Take The Fast and Furious franchise. While not critically good films it has a massive audience, yet I never hear any fans of these films say they like it because of the writing. In fact, I’ve never even heard anyone mention who the writer even is (I had to check it wasn’t Vin Diesel). Harry Potter is another classic example of a hugely successful franchise where I never hear the writers praised but, almost exclusively, I hear the actors get praised. But the actors didn’t write it; without the writer the actors would have nothing to say at all. JK Rowling gets praise for the books, not the films. And the less said about her screenwriting abilities the better. My dislike for those franchises could be a whole article on its own but clearly people like them. But do any of them like it because of the screenwriter or are they robbed of the praise that those films could potentially receive (which I don’t see but Film is subjective at the end of the day; but also, at the end of the day I need something to write about).

I concede that some very great screenwriters are celebrated but I posit that most of those are also directors of the films they write. And people will usually consider them a director first and writer second (and in some cases may not even realise they’re a writer). Such contemporary examples would be James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Baby Driver). Both are talented screenwriters but is it their directing or writing people like? Or, like usual, do the actors get the praise. Everyone who likes Guardians of the Galaxy knows it starred Chris Pratt but how many know who wrote it? So even when I can highlight a screenwriter who actually does receive praise, it’s rarely for their writing, and even then, they are overshadowed by the people who are saying the things they wrote. Even the big names – Tarantino, Sorkin, Christopher Nolan – would be considered directors before writers. That isn’t to say screenwriters don’t ever get any credit, it’s just the credit they do get is from people who do, genuinely, appreciate the craft and the work that it requires. Whereas when a casual film viewer likes a film, they are more likely to stick to the surface of appreciation and, as a result, believe the actor is responsible for why they liked it and not realise it’s the screenwriter.

Now, I have heard casual film goers say they like the way a film is written but, unlike when they like a specific actor, they won’t find out the writer’s name. And that’s what I think needs to change. I want to see people treating writers the way they treat actors. They might not be as conventionally attractive but most of them are pretty smart and they’re certainly responsible (in most cases) for larger portions of why you like a film than the actor – who just showed up and got paid to read lines (clearly not all, but too many). I don’t want to take away praise from the actors but share it among the other people responsible for a film – and give the screenwriters what they’re long overdue.

BUT THAT’S ONE, TOTALLY OBJECTIVE, DEFINITELY UNBIASED SCREENWRITER’S OPINION.