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Birol
07-25-2007, 03:48 PM
First, I personally firmly believe that regardless of the medium, story trumps all. That is more important than any individual involved in the publication process, but, that said, in most areas where writers receive some sort of public credit for their work, the writer's name is the most prominent one associated with the work. Novels, non-fiction books, articles -- all of these things make the writer's name more important than the editor, publisher, or agent -- but there are some areas where the reverse is true -- songwriting and screenwriting (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/07/21/nosplit/bffps121.xml) come to mind. When it comes to screenwriting, it is only the director and actors who are publicized. In songwriting, it's about who performs the song.

Why do you think this is?

triceretops
07-25-2007, 04:05 PM
This is a damn good question. Perhaps with books, the writer's name is known well, or even somewhat recognized, and the correlation is made much easier between product and creator. Almost no one, for the possible exception of screenwriters, know the major screenwriters by name. The actors/actresses, however, are very well known to the general public, easily identifiable.

But it is an unfair situation in where the screenwriter seems to be last for recognition. Even an original novelist gets more billing that the screenwriter sometimes. As in King's, the Green Mile, and so on.

Tri

Celia Cyanide
07-25-2007, 06:31 PM
But it is an unfair situation in where the screenwriter seems to be last for recognition. Even an original novelist gets more billing that the screenwriter sometimes. As in King's, the Green Mile, and so on.

The thing I really hate is when people talk about how much they love a director, and then all they talk about is the dialog. Even if you're talking about a director who writes all his/her own films, dialog is his/her strength as a writer, not a director.

rugcat
07-25-2007, 06:41 PM
When it comes to screenwriting, it is only the director and actors who are publicized. In songwriting, it's about who performs the song. For songwriting, I don't think that's true. Gershwin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, or even Burt Bachrach are as well know or more so than the performers who sing their songs.

In modern times, the songwriters tend also to be performers, like Lennon and McCartney or Dylan or Eminem, so the distinction becomes blurred.

True, screenwriters are mostly anonymous. Only film buffs have any idea who they are. Perhaps this is because, unlike a novel, a screenplay must be brought to life by other people. A movie is a collaborative effort by a whole lot of people--a novel is one person's vision alone.

You write a novel; people read it. You write a screenplay, and it has no existence until actors, directors, cinematographers, and hundreds of other disciplines actualize it. How exciting would Star Wars have been if there was no movie--just words on paper?

Likewise, a song has no real existence outside its performance; so again, unlike a novel, it's a collaborative effort. A great interpreter can take an ordinary song and make it sound great. A great song can be done by scores of mediocre performers and still sound pretty good--but those songs are usually written by precisely the songwriters who are famous and that's the reason they are.

After reading my own post over, let me add this: I really have no idea.

Celia Cyanide
07-25-2007, 06:50 PM
Perhaps this is because, unlike a novel, a screenplay must be brought to life by other people. A movie is a collaborative effort by a whole lot of people.

A play is the same way, and yet plays are studied in schools, for some reason. Screenplays are not appreciated as works of art on their own.

Cathy C
07-25-2007, 07:00 PM
This reminds me of a funny story I read somewhere. Whitney Houston, after release of the song "I Will Always Love You" got incensed about a collector plate that was being released with Dolly Parton's photo, featuring the song (which Dolly had sung in the movie and play "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.") Ms. Houston apparently stormed over to Parton's office and demanded that the plates be discontinued, because it was "HER" song. Supposedly, the dressing down went on for several minutes before Dolly quietly, and with evil amusement, explained that she WROTE the song that Whitney sang, and she could certainly cancel the rights to use it if that's what Whitney would prefer. :ROFL:

So, it's not all about the singer, when it comes down to it. ;)

rugcat
07-25-2007, 07:04 PM
A play is the same way, and yet plays are studied in schools, for some reason. Screenplays are not appreciated as works of art on their own.That's very true--I thought about that. But reading a play is usually a lot closer to watching it than reading a screenplay is to watching a movie.

benbradley
07-25-2007, 07:36 PM
First, I personally firmly believe that regardless of the medium, story trumps all. That is more important than any individual involved in the publication process, but, that said, in most areas where writers receive some sort of public credit for their work, the writer's name is the most prominent one associated with the work. Novels, non-fiction books, articles -- all of these things make the writer's name more important than the editor, publisher, or agent -- but there are some areas where the reverse is true -- songwriting and screenwriting (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/07/21/nosplit/bffps121.xml) come to mind. When it comes to screenwriting, it is only the director and actors who are publicized. In songwriting, it's about who performs the song.

Why do you think this is?

With songs there have been superstars such as Elvis, who could have made a song I wrote turn to gold just be singing it, and it then becomes an "Elvis song." The good news is at least nowadays the songwriter gets PAID (see the Dolly Parton mention, and she didn't "need" the money from Whitney making it a hit) when someone else makes a hit of the song. This is a great improvement from the days of Stephen Foster.

Songwriters aren't usually the biggest name on an album/CD/[mp3/iTunes download] (with notable exceptions such as Andrew Lloyd Weber), but they're not completely "unsung." Every album/CD/45 I've seen usually has the singer/band in big print along with the song title, but just after/below the title is the name(s) of the songwriter(s). Bobby Darrin had a hit with "If I Were A Carpenter" and the 45 says it was written by Tim Hardin, and from that name I can look him up online and see what other songs he wrote and what his musical career and life were like (and have done so).

And who was that dude with the hyphenated name anyway... "Lennon-McCartney?":)

maestrowork
07-25-2007, 08:37 PM
For songwriting, I don't think that's true. Gershwin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, or even Burt Bachrach are as well know or more so than the performers who sing their songs.

Big songwriters such as Paul McCartney or John Lennon or Elton John are also known for their singing career. Sure, there were/are Gershwin, Porter, but they seem to be exceptions. I mean, can you name 10 biggest songwriters in pop, rock or Jazz these days who are not the performers as well (such as James Blunt or Elton John)? Can you name who wrote "Over the Rainbow" (the answer is Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg), considering that's one of the most popular songs of all times? If you go online, more often than not you will find the lyrics and who sang the song, but not the writer who wrote it. I do think songwriters, and to an lesser extent screenwriters, are more "unsung" than say novelists and playwrights.

And it's ironic because I was just reading an article in Entertainment Weekly talking about the Idol alums and how some of them are not doing well, despite their Idol popularity and singing abilities. And the idea seems to be that the songs are more important than the singers in these cases, and the reason why they're not doing well is that they don't have good songs.

And yet, when is the last time you read about the songwriters in a mag like that? When's the last time you talk about screenwriters other than just a casual mention when talking about an upcoming movie -- except maybe screenwriters like Charlie Kaufman (for his wacky psychological comedies/dramas) or Michael Arndt (because of the success of Little Miss Sunshine).

I think the issue is that with performing art (music, movies, etc.) the performers are usually what people see and hear. It's also usually a collaborative effort. (famous) Playwrights seem to get a bigger "NAME" on the marquee because they, along with the directors or actors, do draw crowds. And plays are as much about the words than about the acting....

That brings me to a thought. Perhaps it's all about "who draws the crowd." Story matters most, but after that, who brings people to the venues? Is it Madonna or some songwriters who write her songs? Is it Stephen Spielberg the director or Charlie Kaufman the writer (in the both cases, they both draw crowds)? Winning an Oscar, for example, may push you to that level. In the case of, say, Cole Porter -- he drew the crowd. People, including singers, wanted to hear (and sing) his songs. It wasn't really about Frank Sinatra, but it's about Cole Porter's wonderful song sung by Frank Sinatra.

It does come back to the "story" (or songs) -- the reason while Cole Porter was famous was because he kept giving us wonderful songs that many different singers want to sing -- they weren't just work for hire. Same with Charlie Kaufman -- his unique movies (stories) make him a name -- a name many directors and producers and audiences seek.

So, I guess, for a writer to make himself a name in "show" business, he or she has to carve out a niche for himself, and somehow he or she has to be bigger than the stars or even the story itself. For example, outside of the screenwriting circle, I am not sure how many people know who David Koepp is, but he's written many, many blockbusters. Unfortunately for him, the movies he writes are usually much bigger than he is -- blockbusters are about the effects and the stars. But Charlie Kaufman or Alan Ball is always bigger than the movies they write...

The screenwriter's name is always in the opening credit, along with the stars and director. Songwriters' names are always listed on the album with the songs. So I don't think they're being ignored or uncredited for their work. However, the question is:

Do the audiences take notice?

maestrowork
07-25-2007, 08:52 PM
Another thoughts -- movies and songs, etc. are collaborative efforts. But what about books? Why don't we see more of this:

Harry Potter and ....
Written by J. K. Rowling
Edited by X
Copyedited by Y
Book cover designed by Z
Typesetted by T

The publisher is listed, but not usually the individuals who helped put the book together.

rugcat
07-25-2007, 08:56 PM
I do think songwriters, and to an lesser extent screenwriters, are more "unsung" than say novelists and playwrights.Good points in your post. The original question was, why is this the case? I'm just saying that one of the reasons is because of the individual/collaborative issue.

I'm a novelist--people read my books (hopefully) and like them or hate them, it's all me.

I'm also a songwriter. I'm not a great singer, so I have a band with a real singer to sing my songs for me. People don't just like the song; they like the band. (Again hopefully) I see a real difference in the two disciplines, and I think that's a contributing factor in why songwriters don't always get their due.

maestrowork
07-25-2007, 09:05 PM
I agree. A good song still has to be sung by a great singer to truly make it great. A good script still has to be brought to life by the director's vision and the actors' performance (among other things such as costume, etc.) One can always argue without a script there's no movie -- but without a director or actrs, there is no movie either.

On the other hand, plays are collaborative, too, but whey do playwrights get more attention, relatively speaking? As I wrote before, I think a lot of times it comes down to "who draws the crowd?" Cole Porter drew crowds. Madonna draws crowd. Spielberg draws crowd. Charlie Kaufman draws crowd.

Like you said, the writers don't always get their dues.