Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

‘There’s an old saying that too many ccooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. Essentially this means if too many people try to create soemthing, the end result will usually be a mess. You’d think Hollywood would understand this by now, but it still persists in thinking that hiring more writers can improve a flawed script.

One way to spot a bad movie ahead of time is to see how many screenwriters worked on the script. Generally three or more writers means that the script is flawed and the movie will likely suck as well.

Think back to how many really bad movies Stanley Kubrick or Quentin Tarantino has made. Even their worse movies are still better than most stuff that Hollywood canks out every year.

The reason why Stanley Kubrick or Quentin Tarantino movies tend to be of high quality is because the script reflects a single, unified vision. Where most scripts go wrong is when multiple writers get thrown on the project with the hope that the next writer will fix the flaws of the previous writer.

It almost never works.

The first writer might have a specific vision for the script, so he (or she) writes the script a certain way with specific plot poitns and character development.

Now a second writer gets thrown on the project and has a different vision. Rather than start from scratch, this second writer will keep the bulk of the script and change things around to reflect a different vision. As a result, this cobbled together script often retains elements that no longer make sense. This is why characters pop up in bad movies and then disappear for no apparent reason.

In the first draft of the script, this character might have played a much larger role, but by the second or third writer gets done with the script, the same characters still exist but the vision and tone of the movie might have changed completely, and you wind up with a muddled mess.

As a screenwriter, there’s little you can do to keep your script safe from the meddling of other writers. What you can do is write your script with such a clear, distinct vision that even a brain-dead person could see the importance of your script and won’t bother to touch it.

Better yet, such a distinct script will likely keep the studio from hiring another writer to “fix” your script in the first place.

So the lesson for today is that your writing ability can minimize the chance that a studio will throw multiple writers at your script and end up ruining it for everyone involved.

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