It’s certainly no secret. I believe that all the screenplays we write today must be flawless in terms of formatting and grammar simply because of the competition. Everything counts.
And in my recent review of Mickey Lee’s great new story, The Other Side, which you really should read if you get the chance, I did a little bird-walking on this topic, and I thought it might be worth sharing with my blogger friends…
“SOAPBOX - We have a century of filmmaking behind us. It's high time we collectively admit what we already know, that screenwriting has become its own art form. I firmly believe that we are entering a new era where the next generation of screenwriters must write at a more heightened level of craftsmanship than ever before (because of history and competition and also) because if your film gets made and it's popular, it's inevitable that your script will hit the web and people will study your work and make judgments on your craftsmanship. You cannot make a good movie from a bad script. But it's very possible (and easy) to turn a good script into a bad movie. And if that happens to you, if your script hits the web, you want people to look at it and maybe they'll say (like they said of Shane Black's The Long Kiss Goodnight), ‘hey, you know, the movie didn’t live up to the script.’
It's not enough to have an idea and get a sale. In this day and age, you're only as good as your last script, and you must deliver the storytelling goods every time you're at bat. When The Da Vinci Code came out with all of its endless talk and exposition, Akiva Goldsman was no longer written about as the great screenwriter who won an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. In fact, critics just HAD to remind us that this was the dork who wrote Batman & Robin. Your screenwriting career really depends upon how well you adhere to what you know are the principles of great screenwriting, because once you get sales and climb to the top, you enter a world where there is no discipline, where people tempt you to abandon what you know and write shit for them, which will bomb, and then the world rips you apart and sends you packing back to amateurville. I certainly don't need to explain that it's a cold, vile, vicious world out there, and frankly, I find comfort in like-minded writer-friends. The constant back and forth in feedback, I push them to do better, they push me to do better, and we both stay focused over the long haul on what's important about the art of storytelling.”