Some Writers Need An Editor... Badly
So yesterday I read a 165-page, woefully-overwritten screenplay, with huge mobs of typos and spelling mistakes roaming its pages.
This thing is embarrassing. "Boston" is misspelled as "Bostin", twice. "Adolf Hitler" is misspelled "Adolph" time after time.
Apostrophes are salted in where they have no right being, and missing from where they should be. It's so bad that a key word in the title is misspelled, both in the title and throughout the script, yet I have absolutely no idea whether this is intentional or not.
On imbd, the title is correctly spelled, though.
Yeah, it's on imdb. As a film about to go into production. Maybe.
Because this mess of a script is written by a hip, finger-snapping Oscar-winning writer-director. I can't write his name -- I'm probably not even supposed to be alluding to reading this script, which is currently making the rounds -- but you can probably guess who it is.
Let's keep it between us.
A lot of people reading scripts by well-known writers can get into bad writing habits, because well-known writers can get away with things that unknown writers have a harder trouble doing.
Shane Black (who isn't the writer referred to above) can write whatever sort of witty aside he wants in a script, and he gets a pass, though mostly it works because he's such a good writer that it's clear whatever he is doing that he is in firm control of everything on the page. And no one is going to care if he misspells a word or two or thirty -- though he probably won't.
But there's no excuse for sending something out that is in this bad a shape. Especially something that is nominally a spec, that you are trying to get someone to give you a lot of money to make.
Because what the script should be saying to them is: "Yes, this story is different, and it's all over the place tonally, and it's unclear whether the same audience who would like this long, well-written part over here would actually like that incredibly-brutal other part over there. But shit, it's so well-written throughout, so polished and crisp that obviously I can pull it off".
Instead, the message it is giving is: "I couldn't care enough to actually reread this -- or get someone else to reread it -- and I don't have any real explanation why I'm spelling words like that -- but I promise the movie will be good. Really."
Looking beyond the typos and spelling problems, the script isn't bad. It's way overwritten, and certain sections need to be tightened down a lot, and it is all over the place tonally but there is some good stuff here.
(And no, you can't have a copy. I no longer have a copy).
But it's a borderline script, that he's been trying to get someone to greenlight for a while. The perfect example of a script where the writing needs to be spot on, to convince the people with the money that you are in firm, professional control of everything.
Instead, he has given them another reason to say no by having a script that constantly knocks one's brain out of the story by leaving around a forest of poor punctuation and egregious spelling mistakes to trip over and get lost in.
I don't get it. But then again, it's Hollywood.