As regular visitors to this blog will know, I am not a stranger to fits of rage, fury and general kick-the-cat anger. I try to channel them into humour and not kicking cats. Before anyone calls the RSPCA; I don’t own a cat. And thank God for that, because something happened last week that would have had me firmly planting my boot up Chairman Meow’s fundament.
The Guardian newspaper has decided to take a break from the quinoa recipes and stories about Twitter to run their own film awards. You know, because what the UK film industry really needed was another evening spent in a London hotel function room eating cold food, slapping each other’s backs and listening to video speeches from actors who couldn’t be arsed to get on the plane from LA. Yeah, that’s just what a national film industry that is in decline requires.
But that’s not what put me in the bad mood. Have a look at the categories.
So, there’s the usual suspects; best director, best performance, best film etc. Hang on a minute, this looks like fun. There’s a category for ‘Best Scene’ and ‘Best Line of Dialogue’ instead of ‘Best Screenplay’. Okay, I think it’s difficult to ask people to judge those things out of context. Still, at least it’s recognition of the writer’s craft and how we use dialogue and scenes to build a story and characters…
Except it’s not, because those trendy wankers at The Guardian haven’t actually bothered to involve the writers in those categories. Indeed, in the Best Dialogue category, they’ve listed the actors that learned those lines, but not the writers that actually wrote them.
This is what incites my genuine and deep felt rage. This utter inability to understand how films are actually made coupled with such a spectacular lack of basic respect for my profession. The idea that months, often years, of work by a writer can be boiled down to a line of dialogue or a scene that looked good on the trailer is bad enough. However, not even bothering to credit the men and women who stared at a blank page or computer screen and then conjured those lines and those scenes from thin air, is unforgivable.
Because that is what screenwriters do, They create the characters you love; the dialogue that made you laugh; the scenes that broke your heart, FROM NOTHING. Before a DOP touches a camera, before a costume designer touches a sewing machine, before a producer touches a phone and before a director touches some poor unfortunate starlet on the casting couch. Before all that there is a writer and the blank page.
And that is certainly before anyone designs the fucking poster or edits a few clips over an Ed Sheeran track, but the Guardian hacks still think that the ‘Best Marketing Campaign’ is more worthy of an award than the writers.
I’m assuming that the bright spark that came up with these award categories was one of the imbeciles who couldn’t understand why the silent film The Artist received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. The sort of imbecile who will never understand the tyranny of the blank page and the sheer hard work that goes into creating a credible script with a narrative structure and complex characters. To isolate just one line of dialogue or a scene shows an ignorance of film, not a love for it.
The very least that the Guardian could have done was credit the writers of the films from which they arbitrarily lifted scenes and dialogue, but they could not even be bothered to do that. So, I’ll do it for them.
Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons & Armando Iannucci
Alfonso & Jonas Cuaron
The Great Beauty
Paolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello
12 Years A Slave
John Ridley (based on the book by Solomon Northup)
Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel & Ethan Coen
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Kim Krizan
Post Tenebras Lux
Blue is The Warmest Colour
Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix (Based on the book by Julie Maroh)
The Wolf of Wall Street
Terence Winter (based on the book by Jordan Belfort)
Behind the Candelabra
Richard LaGravenese (based on the book by Scott Thorson & Alex Thorleifson)
Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell
Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope (based on the book "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee" by Martin Sixsmith)
Robot and Frank
Christopher D. Ford
That took me about 10 minutes to look up on IMDB. It shouldn’t really have been a stretch for a paper that apparently prides itself on the quality of its journalism. But then the journalists probably just, you know, throw a few ideas together. It will be their editor that whips it into shape. It’s actually all about the typeface and the pictures that he chooses, the words aren’t that important. Are they?
See what I did there?
It seems to The Guardian that we writers are not even worth ten minutes of their time. However, it is worth saying that other publications are equally dismissive.
I’m looking at you Empire; allegedly the World’s Biggest Film Magazine. Let’s not even talk about how your photo shoots of actors usually have them in sharp suits whilst the actresses always seem to have forgotten to put on their trousers. Perhaps you could take a break from turning into Loaded and actually list the writers on your film reviews? Perhaps interview them once in a while? Because without writers there is no film for you to actually write about and no reason for Jennifer Lawrence to be naked and covered in blue paint.
It’s not about money or credits or claiming ownership of films. It’s about respect.
No cats were harmed during the writing of this blog.