Whose Film is it Anway?

In Who is the Author of a Film? The debate between scriptwriter and director is sparked and eventually goes unanswered. Both individuals are said to be of great importance to the end result.  This argument also carries on for Balázs in The Script. Balázs notes that “deeper meaning” can indeed be created through moving pictures/film without “symbolic or ‘metaphorical’ shots, they are all quite real, ordinary pictures”(220).

I found myself wondering, does this realization of a “deeper meaning” by an audience come about because the script/story actions alone creates this or is it truly a combination of the work of the director’s approach, organization, style and essentially, direction, of the script of a film? Does this happen or can this happen solely because the story/plot allows it to or must it also be a result of the ability of the director to translate this script to the picture medium?

Balázs also discusses the element of parallel actions. Balázs explains, “the film can interrupt the continuity of a scene not only by not showing all the persons in a scene all the time- the whole scene itself can be interrupted…[and later] continued (221). This reminded me of films like Pulp Fiction and Memento in which only when the viewer has finished watching the film are they able to truly piece together all of the puzzle that is the plot of the film. I wonder, how might the relationship between scriptwriter and director work in these cases? Does a screenwriter write out the full story in “correct” sequence, later altered with artistic purpose by the director or does the screenwriter write a script in such a scrambled order with that purpose in mind to be transferred to the screen? As I thought about these possibilities I realized, in talking about film and in taking into account the idea that films take a great deal of both work and people, to finally come to fruition..what about the role of a film editor? Either when working with a more complicated plot structure or with a more traditional or simple sequence of events, does the final word (or should I say final image) truly lie with a screenwriter or director? Hours and hours of film is captured yet the final film may only last two, two and half hours.  If a screenwriter creates the story, and the director films it, does the film editor not actually do the legwork of piecing together all the amazing “deeper meaning” imagery that has been created to make the end result?


P.S. In case anyone is interested, and since we’re talking about scripts- there is actually a website like imdb but for scripts.





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3 Responses to Whose Film is it Anway?

  1. Mike Ketive says:

    I think the lines are blurred between who exactly might have the final say in how a scene is executed in a film, but it would be sufficient to say that every possible contender for having the final say (the director, the screenplay writer, the editor, etc.) gives a significant contribution to what gives the scene a “deeper meaning”. To an extent, I agree with what you say at the end; that the film editor, who slaves over editing software (in this day and age) would logically get the final say in how a scene is executed, simply based on the fact that they are editing the footage filmed into a scene to convey a certain action. However, it would pertinent to note that without that footage to edit, the “deeper meaning” found within a particular scene wouldn’t be as such simply based on the fact that the editor obviously needs film to edit, plus I would imagine that there is some level of direction within the editing process and the editor doesn’t necessarily have free reign to make the scene as he/she sees it. It’s difficult to say who has the “final say” in how a scene is executed, but like I mentioned before, every possible contender has their hand in it in a fairly important way.

  2. Darwin Eng says:

    The film editor (as mentioned by both you and Mike) suggests that the is the film belongs to the film editor. But does that mean that the author of the film is necessarily the film editor? You bring up a point that Archeim brings up as well–there are many people involved with creating a script. Are they all the authors then? I bring this up because your post questions where the “deeper meaning” comes from. I must admit, this question does not seem to be exclusive to film but to literature as well. If we look at texts, there is usually an author, and the reader. In film, there are multiple people. And if we bring in the big issue of authorial intent, which is already a hotly debated issue in literature, it makes things in film even more complicated. The point of my comment is not to answer the question that you posed, but bring up the possibility that the creation of the “deeper meaning” might be created from multiple sources.

    • To add to this, in some ways films HAVE to have multiple authors–yu’re not going to be good at writing, and editing, and costumes, and developing film stock, and managing lighting, etc…

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