The Song Remains the Same, Or How I Learned to Stop Prioritizing Just One of the Guys Behind the Screenplay and Love Peter George and Stanley Kubrick

“At that time, 1962 and earlier, practically all screenwriters — I would say there were about eight exceptions — were full-out hacks, completely incompetent in any other form of writing, and, of course, disastrous in their own. You’ve got to understand that it is not easy to make a bad movie — it requires a very special combination of non-talents and anti-talents…and that was generally the case, and unfortunately all too often still is. It used to be that the people — they were not writers — who would get into the screenwriting would do so through talents much more appropriate to selling shoes than to writing…in other words, extroverted, hard-sell, bullshitting assholes. Agents…people like that. Hustlers…people who suddenly decided there was more money in selling ‘stories’ to the studio than in selling siding or used cars, and since they had a brother-in-law already in the biz, why not give it a whirl? Once they had a credit, of course, there was no stopping them. The studios had rather employ a screenwriter with eight disasters to his credit than a William Faulkner with none. In fact, when Faulkner — who had the greatest ear for regional dialogue of his time — was finally used in Hollywood, his work was invariably rewritten, by hacks, simply because producers and directors were suspicious of anyone who had not written for films before — as if there was something special about it, or about the crap they were turning out. In short, it used to be there was no way to get into screenwriting, except through a brother-in-law process. Now independent production has changed this — but not as much as one might think. In the majority of pictures with budgets of five hundred thou or more, studio participation is involved, and whenever thee is studio money, there is the dinosaur mentality and the apelike interference which are unfailintly part of the package.”

— Terry Southern, 1972

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