Not completely true. Here’s the thing. Writers respect writers. Directors, for the most part, respect writers. Producers love and respect good cooperative creative writers, know who they are, and remember them. Entertainment Executives like writers who know what they are doing and appreciate them. They also know and understand the necessity of the writer. Industry people from all walks pay attention to who writes what. They know. Serious film buffs know who some writers are, especially the A List ones.
A small percentage of the public will see something based on who wrote it. And by small, I mean, very very small. Bordering on microscopic when you take the population into consideration.
The public at large?
Not so much. They know SOMEBODY probably wrote it, but man, did you see those Dinosaurs? Or that explosion? Or how the actors in that scene made you cry? Or how cool the film looked? And how did they drive that car out of that plane?
They do notice writers when the film sucks. “Who wrote that shit?” But even then they don’t actually look and see who did.
And on the films or TV where they were entertained? Don’t kid yourself. They may look at the name, but it’s gone by the time they get home.
But Bob, there are screenwriting podcasts. And books. And websites. And seminars.
Those are all for those select few thousand (out of millions and millions) who care.
So why don’t people care who the writers are?
How do I count the ways. Writers are invisible. You never see them onscreen. Their names are on the film once, as the audience is walking in or walking out. The audience didn’t come to see the writer. They may have come to see the story the writer created but they never consider who wrote it. Or they go to see the stars, or the hype. The writer is never on Jimmy Kimmel to promote the film. You never see the writer walk the red carpet either. They do, but when that happens, it’s time to cut to commercial.
Writers do get to be on panels at Film Festivals, but those are for the small percentage of people who actually care who the writer is and want to hear from them. And mostly it’s people who want to be writers, too.
Do I sound bitter? Absolutely not. I started out as an actor. When I decided to try writing, I knew what the bottom line was. I knew where the writer was on the public’s food chain. I knew if I succeeded, I would have to be content having the industry know who I was as a pinnacle. I’m still working on that.
You don’t get into the screenwriting business to get famous. I got into it because I wasn’t that good an actor so I thought I’d try it because I LOVE movies and don’t want to do anything but work on them. What I found out was that I loved writing. I loved creating story. I loved fitting all the story elements together like puzzle pieces. And the first time I saw my script, my story, my characters, my dialogue on a screen, I was hooked. A junkie. I want it again and again and again.
Everyone has their own reasons why they write for film or TV. Getting famous shouldn’t be one of them. And being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway. I’ve been out to dinner, played golf, and had drinks with some very famous people and I wouldn’t want that kind of public attention for anything. It might be fun for a while, but for me it would wear very thin.
So, for that group of writers, or would be writers out there who think it’s not fair that writers aren’t as publicly valued as actors and directors... Don’t blame the industry.
It’s the public. They don’t care. They just want to be entertained and thrilled and to laugh or cry or be frightened. No more. No less. And if you as a writer accomplish that and can sit in the theater or a home or a screening room with people watching something YOU wrote and they react to your work in any of those ways..... you’ve gotten everything you need from them.
You don’t need to be stopped in the grocery store or walking your dog for autographs because, well, it’s not going to happen.
And, to be honest... I’ve also noticed that most of the people who complain the loudest about no public recognition of screenwriters are the ones who’ve never sold anything or had anything produced.
Having the respect of industry peers beats the hell out of anyone recognizing you in Costco anyway.
Follow me on Twitter. @bobsnz