The Exploited Scriptwriters
of the Film Industry
by Apolinario Villalobos
Every time award-winning films catch the limelight, quotes are heard from those who have seen the movies, to show that they were first-hand witnesses of such eventful showing. It is true that actors play a vital role in the garnering of awards, but without the appropriate and catchy dialogues and dramatic cinematography, the whole movie would be nothing. There is no question with the director who is considered as the life-giver of the film. Unfortunately, while the actors who mumble the phrases are praised no end, the scriptwriter who squeezed his or her brains to be able to come up with juicy lines, is neglected, just like the rest of the essential members of the “working group”.
Remove the scripts and a movie will be back to the former “glorious” silence and subtitled past of the industry. What is sad is that, the scriptwriters are among the lowest paid workers in the filmmaking industry. As if the abuse is not enough, some directors have the habit of practically “shredding” the lines according to his or the actors’ whim. One scriptwriter friend told me that his script was 70% redone, but thankful that the title was not changed.
Sleepless nights are spent to complete a script to suit a story line. Continuity is a very important factor to maintain the flow of the story. A single inappropriate word can spoil a whole script. And, some scriptwriters still had to consult references, especially, if the material is historical just like the “General Luna”. As much as possible, the scriptwriter has to be around while filming is going on, for whatever necessary changes that have to be made on the spot and pronto!
If a script is being sold, during the transaction, there is so much haggling that as much as 30% is lost from the original price, and the worst thing that could happen is when the whole script is redone including the title and a new name appears in the byline.
Those are the sacrifices of the scriptwriter…neglected and underpaid. Just like the rest of artists, a scriptwriter who does not know how to handle his earnings can die a pauper.