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Article on screen writing by Ronald Harwood
…an important lesson when adapting for the screen: always to be true to the source material, the original author’s truth.

… Certainly, I have learned that the screenwriter’s relationship with the director is at the very heart of film-making, but the cult of the film director is now so pervasive that the screenwriter is mostly consigned to oblivion. If a critic admires the film the screenplay is ignored; if he finds fault, the screenplay comes in for a mauling. Thus, the screenwriter must learn that he is not an equal partner; indeed he is somewhat subservient. …

But most important of all, the writer must be sure of the world about which he’s writing and has to approach the screenplay with the same degree of commitment as he or she would any other work. I have also come to understand that form is of secondary importance to content. What a film is about stands above all else. Moreover, the screenplay, besides supplying all the information that it needs to supply, must be enjoyable to read. My advice is: just tell the story – which is not as easy as it sounds. And, finally, the director should shoot the film laid down in that document and no other. I talk, of course, of an ideal world.

He makes an interesting point about the cult of the director in film making (and the subservient role of the writer), which is not as strong in theatre making, although we have our fair share of brilliant auteurs.

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  • About me

    I'm a playwright and investment analyst. I have a broad range of interests: food, gardening, innovation & intellectual property, sustainability, architecture & design, writing and the arts. I sit on the board of Talawa Theatre Company and advise a CIS investment trust on socially responsible investments.

  • Recent Work

    Recent plays include, for theatre: Nakamitsu, Yellow Gentlemen, Lost in Peru, Lemon Love. For radio: Places in Between (R4), Patent Breaking Life Saving (WS).

  • Nakamitsu

  • Yellow Gentlemen