Richard Walter, the writer of "Essentials of Screenwriting" reviewed earlier has been very kind and answered a few questions of mine:
You encourage writers to let go and leave the scripts in the hands of directors and actors. How can a screenwriter judge if they will wreck it or make a brilliant movie out of it? Is there a way to make such judgment? Should a screenwriter care about it, or just be happy with the money and the credits?
While it’s true actors and directors may wreck good scripts, the likelihood is that they’ll make the movie even better than the writer imagined it could be. The trick is not merely to tolerate their creative involvement with the movie but to encourage it. Screenwriting and filmmaking are not adversarial enterprises.
I am from another culture and I wonder if you have any suggestions for foreign writers, like me, about how to absorb what is necessary to write a movie for the American market, favorably Hollywood ?
There are two, and only two, kind of movies. They are not ‘foreign’ or ‘international’ pictures on one hand and American pictures on the other but good pictures and bad pictures. The former engage and entertain and at the same time posit profound insights into the nature of the human condition. The latter are boring. Good films transcend markets and regions and cultures and speak to all of humanity. Rashomon, as an example, the classic Japanese film set in Samurai Japan, speaks not only to Japanese audiences but world audience, especially relative to the issue of truth and perception.
When you write about dialog you mention a few things that actors don’t like or care about, like directives how the dialog should be said. How about actions and descriptions? What should a screenwriter include to help an actor? And what should be left out?
What should be left in is anything that, if left out, would cause the scene or the movie to crumble. If you can take something out and it doesn’t make much of a difference, then it wasn’t needed in the first place. What should be left in is only that which is fundamental, essential. Avoid gestures, suggestions regarding inflection and intonation. Shakespeare wrote perhaps thirty six plays without instructions relative to the way lines should be spoken. It all derives from story.
Thank you, Richard, for your time and your willingness to share your experiences.