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work on a script that you didn't like (4 replies and 4 comments)

GiacomoJaeggli
3 months ago
GiacomoJaeggli 3 months ago

Good evening Roger.
Many congratulations for your work and thanks for this website.
Excuse my English. I work as a director of photography in Switzerland. Where I am we don't make so many films, maybe two or three a year. We make many documentaries.
I wanted to ask you, if it ever happened to you to receive a script that you didn't like, in terms of personal taste?
For me, every script I receive is a chance to gain experience and therefore I would never want to last a job. Have you ever received scripts that you didn't like the way you behaved? And how much do you express your personal views about the script?

I hope it's not a stupid question.

Thanks for everything
Giacomo J.

Roger Deakins
3 months ago
Roger Deakins 3 months ago

Not a stupid question at all. I have read any number of scripts that I haven't liked but I have not worked on one. I would find it difficult to find the motivation to work on a film if I didn't like the script.

Mike
3 months ago

Let’s say for example that you were not keen on the script but you have worked with the Director before, knowing that he could extract the best out of it, would that influence your judgement in anyway. As you know a bad script given the right treatment by the right team could turn out to be a good earner.

Roger Deakins
3 months ago
Roger Deakins 3 months ago

There is nothing to stop a bad script from becoming a 'good earner'. That happens all the time! Of course, each project is a judgement call.

James
1 month ago
James 1 month ago

You end up spending a good chunk of your life on a film when you include prep, shooting and post. So it makes sense to think carefully about whether you want the story in your life for that amount of time. I have to admit, even on the good ones, I sometimes start counting the days to having my life back at the end!

Mike
1 month ago

That is very true, it will take up every moment of your life from the moment you wake up, your thoughts are with the film 24/7 and it can be a real thorn in your side
especially when you have share the house with the DP! Relationships are tested to the full but the financial rewards can make it worth it. It all depends how you value success.

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I certainly do not judge success by financial rewards and I have never chosen a project based on how much I might make from the job. Working in film was never about that for me but I guess I was lucky. I didn't have to sleep on a floor for very long.

A bad script can always make a film that is a 'good earner' (by which I mean a box office success) but that doesn't make it a good film. Mostly, it is the reverse.

Mike
1 month ago

Yes, I see what you mean but it is reported that many of the 95,000 people working in the UK Film and TV industry are struggling to pay their mortgage and have to rely on other means to support themselves. Ofcourse, there are many that are doing well for themselves eg, many BBC news editor’s are earning the equivalent of what the British Prime Minister earn’s in a year. Now, that doesn’t seem to be right!

The Byre
1 month ago

Yes, make the prime minister earn the same as a free-lancer scraping a living from the dribbles that drop off the table at the BBC.

I once and once only accepted a commission from the BBC and they offered me £37 after they had accepted my work. I suggested that there were union rates for that job and they just refused point-blank. NUJ rates would have made it £250 but I was not going to sue them for such a small amount - but I always told them afterwards to pay regular rates - so they always decided to go elsewhere!

Beyond the BBC, the creative industries in the UK are growing at about 8% p.a. and now account for 10% of the UK economy, ahead of manufacturing which has sunk to 8%.

The key to earning a decent wedge is to own the copyright and hang onto those damn residuals!

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