Script security = bad movies
Written by Sarah
Look, I get it. Stuff leaks on the internet all the time. It’s a real problem for Hollywood. How do you build hype for a project when anyone can sign onto IMDB and download a copy of the script? Technology provides an ease of access never before seen and the rabid interest that surrounds tent pole and fanboy projects leads to leaks. It’s inevitable. So how is Hollywood preventing leaks? By not letting actors read full scripts when they’re considering a part.
I can think of a lot of ways to protect a script, most involving not letting everyone and their mother have a copy, but preventing the actors who are auditioning for the role from reading the complete story is probably the stupidest possible solution to the problem. It’s like giving a publisher pages 27-33 of The Catcher in the Rye and expecting a decision on whether or not they’ll buy it. How can you know how good something is if you only have half the story? You can’t.
A project in development now that is “top secret” is the Wachowski Brothers’ Cobalt Neural 9, which sounds like a terrible idea if ever I’ve heard one (American and Iraqi soldier engage in a homosexual romance during the Iraq war—Brokeback Mountain meets The Hurt Locker, I can hear this pitch now). My problem with CN9 lies not in the story but with the filmmakers. The Wachowski Brothers are overrated. Like M. Night Shyamalan, they made one really good movie a while ago, and they’ve never been able to live up to their own standard. CN9 is awaiting disaster not because of its political-minefield plot, but because I don’t believe the brothers have the necessary sensitivity and gravitas to make this a good movie.
Hiding the script doesn’t help, either. Look at the some of the projects named as “top secret script hiders”: Battleship, X-Men: Wolverine, Rise of the Apes, the Twilight movies, Thor. What do these movies have in common? None of them are known for their quality of writing. That’s the problem. I fully understand protecting a plot-sensitive project like Inception, but what these filmmakers are doing isn’t saying, “You can’t leave with a copy of the script,” it’s saying, “How about I just tell you about the story.” They’re selling a concept, not a story. Bad movies begin with bad writing, and some projects are going out of their way to conceal their writing.
Agents are fretting about how to advise their clients when there is no script, or only half a script, heavily redacted, to be read. Easy. Tell them not to do it. If a filmmaker wants to protect a storyline and won’t give your client a copy of the script to keep, well fine. But if a filmmaker won’t even let your client see a completed script, forget it. Walk away. Chances are, the reality of the project is less than the idea of the project. It’s not failsafe—your client may miss an opportunity here or there. But generally, transparency will serve you well.
If you are not embarrassed, you do not hide.
Written by Sarah