Saturday, September 2, 2017

Why is writing movies harder than writing for tv?

A couple of days ago I read some articles, in which television writers compared movie screenwriting to television writing. They wondered why tv writers aren't usually good at writing movies and why it can be so hard to transition to films?

These writers had their own theories about why this tends to happen. According to them, writing for tv was either too lucrative, or they thought that since they had somehow 'mastered' the art of tv writing, they were now 'too good' to write movies.

Not surprisingly, I didn't find these explanations to be particularly convincing or plausible. None of these writers, in my opinion, had the insight or the courage to admit why transitioning to films is so incredibly difficult.

In reality, the biggest reason that most television writers can't switch to writing films is that most of them just aren't good enough as writers. Most of them don't have the talent to write full length movie screenplays.

As far as I'm concerned, writing film scripts is a lot more demanding than writing television scripts is. Whether we like to admit it or not, it's a lot more demanding in almost every aspect that has to do with the writing process.

For example, movie scripts require a lot more ideas than your average episode for a sitcom or for a drama series. You need to come up with a lot more ideas that have to do with your premise and your characters throughout the length of the screenplay.

With movies, you need longer arcs that require more thought than those vignettes on tv shows. A twenty minute sitcom episode or a forty minute drama episode simply isn't as demanding storywise as is a full length movie screenplay. 

When it comes to this writing process, we shouldn't also forget that most television writers in the business aren't actually that experienced either. They haven't mastered their craft, even though they might think that they have done that.

As unfortunate as it is, the truth is that most of these writers did not create the shows that they have been writing for. The overwhelming majority of these writers were not in charge of creating the characters in the pilots of their respective tv shows.

This means that there's a very good chance that most of them have no clue about creating original material from scratch. They don't know how to create original material that would be good enough to be produced on its own.

In that sense, whenever I read someone writing about how they don't write movies for this and that reason, we should take their explanation with a grain of salt. There's a good chance that the person is not being honest about the issue.

At least in my case, the reason that it took so long for me to write a movie script is that it was really that difficult to come up with one. It was that hard and I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn't be able to write one.

It wasn't because I thought I had more important things to do than to write movies. It wasn't because I was 'too good', that I had 'mastered' the art of television writing or that I was somehow above writing film screenplays.

On the contrary, it was because I was afraid that I was going to fail as a movie writer. It was because I was scared to death that I wasn't good enough, that I didn't know what I was doing and that I wouldn't be able to take my craft to the next level.

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