More and more recently I am finding the cinema a complete let-down. I simply can’t remember the last time I came away from a trip to the cinema enthused with the film I had seen.

Compare this to the current crop of TV coming from the US and you can’t help but fear for the near future of Cinema. Shows like Lost, 24, Heroes etc simply put the vast majority of cinema releases in the last few years to shame. Look at this years Oscars – absolute drivel, ‘The Departed’ for best film? It’s not bad, but best film?

I can’t help feel that the problem is not inherent in the form of Cinema (self contained piece, 90-120 mins long) but rather the way the Hollywood machine is run.

You can imagine the exec’s criteria being…

Big star = guaranteed audience
Familiar concept = easy marketing
Special effects = great trailer = easy marketing
Big franchise = guaranteed audience

Factors are all geared around opening the film – getting bums on seats for its first couple of weeks plus selling the marketing rights to a burger chain and any other possible pieces of marketing pap (birthday cards, action figures, toilet roll etc)

Now, compare that with TV. Commercial TV at that. They simply HAVE to have a quality show. It’s not enough to satisfy people for a couple of weeks, the seasons state-side run 20-25 weeks. Then you have to come back the year after and do it all over again. So how do they get it right? What ingredient are TV exec’s/producers adding?

Writers. In film land, whilst good scripts almost certainly exist, as soon as they are sold the original screenwriter is waved goodbye and the script is re-written for the talent (Actors, Directors etc) – almost always diluting the quality of the original script. Don’t believe me? Do a search for some spec scripts and compare them to the shooting script (the shooting scripts is what they ran with after 3-4 different writers had been all over it and pulled it all out of shape at the request of the studio/director/actor).

Doesn’t really happen in TV land, at least in the US. The story creator is nearly always given an executive producer status and stays on board with the project throughout its run. Guiding it, shaping it – ensuring that what they first dreamt up remains for the shows duration. That’s not to say they write it all, or even write the best episodes. It does however ensure some consistency, some adherence to what sold the idea to the network in the first place. A principal lacking in film scripts.

‘A camel is a horse designed by committee’ a metaphor that could perhaps describe the fate of many a good film script?

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