14 November 2008

Manila Times column for 14 Nov 2008 "When writers impose on fellow writers"

original post here.

may pinaghuhugutan ang column na to. kaya lang, sagwang ikuwento pa ng husto. although dapat nga ikinukuwento, para bang "babala: huwag tularan" type of cautionary tale siya. but how do i do that without putting out the dreams of hopefuls in someone and something that they admire?

aye, there's the rub.

isasama ko na lang siya pag sinulat ko ang memoirs ko. like bukas. hahaha. choz. :P

ah basta. ako, maganda! hahaha!


By Libay Linsangan Cantor
When writers impose on fellow writers

Is it ethical if writers impose their ideas on fellow writers?

In the film industry, major production companies have been cultivating “brainstorming groups” where writers, both practicing and newcomers, gather to pitch possible ideas for a film. What’s good about these groups is that many ideas —coming from people from different walks of life—come about which could make a future film meatier and more insightful. Sometimes, though, there are more dominant personalities that the less vocal ones’ ideas and opinions get buried or ignored. The key here is balance; each writer should learn how to assert him/herself—politely—while at the same time learn how to give way to others when it’s their turn to speak.

In the case of competitions or grant-giving bodies, the selection committee does the imposing. This is rightfully so: they want to see if the grant money would be used wisely to produce a quality film, especially if they award it to an amateur scriptwriter or first-time filmmaker. Thus, the bottom line is that the story and script should be well-written and deliver cinematic messages that are new, innovative and exciting. Selections should be based on those criteria.

Sadly, that is not what we have been hearing for the past years now. Some writer-filmmakers lament that their films get mangled when the committee “suggests” ideas totally far from their original concepts. And when I say suggest, it means “impose” for some members of the committee include veteran scriptwriters of the industry.

A recent example is when a veteran scriptwriter suggested to a not-so-newbie semi-finalist that the characters of the latter’s script should be rewritten as lower class. This approach might work for the late Lino Brocka, but the not-so-newbie writer’s material is about people in the middle to upper middle class. Those are two very different films. It’s like “suggesting” to the writer of Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Liwanag (Edgardo Reyes for the novel, Doy Del Mundo for the script) to situate his story in Salcedo Village, Makati instead of the dirty streets of downtown Manila where the heart of the film thrives.

Hopeful writers end up dejected after passing through this kind of committee. But I say to them: cheer up! These people won’t be there forever, and everybody will have their chance. Better yet, as writers, let’s chart our own ways, for narrow-minded, self-proclaimed gatekeepers can’t block real creative brilliance in the long run.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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