9 December 2009

ScriptShadow and Scrippets

Today I read a post on John August's blog blog about ScriptShadow - one of a growing number of blogs when spec scripts, and those in development, are reviewed.

Amongst John's criticisms of the site, he mentioned Scrippets - a plug-in for blogs that creates screenplay formatting. It sounded damn useful, so I thought I'd try it out. The problem is using Scrippets for Blogger means editing the blog template's CSS and HTML - which I hate doing.

So here as a test of Scrippets, here's the opener of the short I'm developing:


Close-up of a the face of a pretty woman, early-20s.

The picture is a freeze-frame from a camcorder.

The picture starts.

WOMAN is smiling. She retreats from the camera, slowly. Her eyes never leave the lens.

MAN (V.O.)

Why didn’t you tell me?

The woman laughs once.

She backs up a few more steps, turns around and walks away from the camera.

Not looking back.

The picture freezes. It rewinds. We’re back to:

Now that test and teaser is done, onto the important stuff.

UPDATE: Scrippet doesn't seem to be working on my machine. If it does on yours, please leave a comment and let me know.

Now about ScriptShadow. Reading lots of screenplays is key to learning to be a screenwriter. For people in my position, the combination of ScriptShadow and sites like Script Collector are a great resource for learning.

Yet, I have problems with both.

Concerning ScriptShadow. Carson Reeves (the name behind ScriptShadow) posts his reviews using the weak defense of "I'll take them down if the writer asks" (paraphrase). Now this pushes screenwriters into the position of having to police ScriptShadow, and related blogs, to ensure their work isn't being reproduced or being damaged commercially.

The reproduction and distribution of these scripts so ScriptShadow can review them is a breach of the rights of the screenwriter, and the companies they are dealing with. A screenplay is not public property that everyone can see and comment on. It's a commercial product, created by a screenwriter who sells (or, if they're lucky, licenses) it to a production company, for their income.

By placing a review on a script and having its commercial potential damaged, and the reputation of the writer harmed.

If a script is received poorly at ScriptShadow, this opinion could spread amongst other opinion influencers (bloggers, execs and journalists) through industry gossip and make that work, and possibly future pieces, a tougher sell. It doesn't require an exec to have read a ScriptShadow posting for this to occur; just hearing bad things about the writer and/or their work on the grapevine, could be enough to make them pass on a project.

Doing this could harm the careers of new screenwriters, who Reeves says he's trying to help.

There is also the issue of trust. Professional screenwriters in the industry have to accept that their scripts will get pushed around different assistants and execs. It's almost a form of networking - except your script (and its associated coverage) is replacing you bribing assistants to get meets with execs you then stalk. Yet if a script by a new writer ends up on a blog, there's the potential for execs to wonder, "Did this writer leak it? Will they leak again in the future? Can they be trusted?"

The spoiler culture has destroyed a large part of the fun of going to the movies.

Let's face it: if everyone knew the true of Luke Skywalker's father, Rosebud, Norman Bates, and Keyser Söze before they entered the cinema, the climaxes of Empire Strikes Back, Citizen Kane, Psycho and The Usual Suspects wouldn't have had any dramatic impact.

In short, spoilers ruin stories.

Now ScriptShadow and similar blogs have pushed spoiler culture to its limit, previewing entire scripts.

We now live in a world of 100% spoilerage.

For as much as ScriptShadow, Script Collector and the like, are helping screenwriters, they're also harming the industry.

But they're only the vanguard. More of these sites will come, and the only way to stop them will be for screenwriters to policing the internet for their stolen words.

Extract from Goodbye: © Richard Cosgrove 2009. All rights reserved.

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