Wasko’s article describes the process behind how the film industry works. The process begins with the writers, who, more often than not, are adapting someone else’s original idea into a new movie (there seem to be even less original ideas over the past decade than ever before). The writers hold minimal power because they are not often the reason that movies are popular; instead it is on the rest of the industry to get the right pieces in place: the studio must hire the right producers, who in turn are tasked with finding a marketable cast (or in some cases one huge star) and finding a director who will take the written screenplay and turn it into film, and all of these parties must work with the agencies (or management companies) that represent said parties. Thrown into this mix as well are the entertainment lawyers, who generally keep order of the entire business. The film must also be under budget and marketable to a large enough audience to warrant a theater release. After all of this work, it is incredible that as many films get produced as they do now, especially considering that over 85% of scripts end up in development hell (the name is pretty self explanatory).
In this model, I often find myself sympathizing with the writers, as they often hold the key to creating original films, and then they find themselves stuck in the business because of their low standing on the totem pole and how easily they can be pushed out of the picture after they write a film and sell it to a studio. Even if the film is made, and the odds are very much against that, they do not receive the acclaim that the director and the stars get (one could argue that they also get less of the blame, but the writers are generally so anonymous it doesn’t matter). One of the coolest sites I found over the last year is “The Blacklist” a document that lists the most “liked” scripts over the past year that have not been made into films. The list is formed by hundreds of film executives, and provides a short synopsis of dozens of scripts. Eventually, some of these scripts get made into movies (2008’s list includes Inglorious Basterds, Sherlock Holmes, and I’m with Cancer, which was recently released last week under its new title 50/50). It’s pretty cool to see all these scripts and see familiar movies, flops and hits alike, as well as seeing scripts that might never be made.