Who wrote the most scripts

: Unknown screenwriters: The tragedy of being a hidden author

Most scripts are written without ever being realized. ”That’s on Wikipedia. Around 800 authors in Germany make a living from writing for film and television. Beginners should expect five to ten years before they can perhaps establish themselves. You have to work on several projects at the same time. For every ten films started, eight may die.

Writing can take years. Anyone who takes all stages of the development of the material receives a total of around 50,000 euros from television for 90 minutes, the cinema pays 80,000 euros. There are swings up and down. Wolfgang Menge, inventor of “Stahlnetz”, “Millionenspiel” or Ekel Alfred, got paid for every repetition, he even negotiated an inflation adjustment. Today most contracts include buyouts: reruns are not paid for. The longest passage in the contracts regulates the transfer of author rights. Attribution often has to be agreed separately. It could be that the clerk is exchanged en route.

Do the authors hope to become famous anyway? It is not certain.

Just one of the many in the credits

Does anyone know Tonino Guerra? I asked friends who say: "Heard it before." Nobody knew exactly, neither did I. It was only when I was researching this text that I discovered Guerra's work: He has written over 100 films - with one exception, the books for each film by Michelangelo Antonioni, with three exceptions for each by Federico Fellini. He wrote for Francesco Rosi, Vittorio de Sica, Andrej Tarkowski, and Wim Wenders. He was nominated for an Oscar for "Casanova 70", "Blow Up" and "Amarcord". He is said to have been a friendly man who was only annoyed if the scenarioist was taken for the production designer. He got the Palme d'Or and the European Film Award. Tonino Guerra died in 2012 at the age of 92.

I associated the genius of the directors with his films, not that of this author. Some time ago "In the Face of Crime" was on TV. As with the first broadcast in 2010, I was infatuated with the inventions, the actors and the force of the plot. Recognizable as a Dominik Graf. But for all time now I will also remember the author Rolf Basedow, who was less talked about at the time. A few days ago, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dominik Graf asked directors and authors to stick together “like a wall”. Directors would have to assure their highly talented authors: “We are there to protect you!” Perhaps the stupor will still be resolved when someone like Dominik Graf demands it.

The author is a world founder, but a background person. In the credits it appears in the same font size as, for example, the cut, costume and set design, and only the initiated know that no one has worked on the extensive credits for the film that has just been seen as long as the author.

The film and screenplay almanac "Scenario" makes the author's position the topic. It goes back a long time. Jean Anouilh, for example, made his debut in 1936. While we were talking about the assignment, the producer, a nervous man, chewed up Anouilh's humble check. It was a mistake, there was a new check, but the author still had a strange feeling. Jean Ferry wrote 23 screenplays, including for big names such as Henri-George Clouzot and Luis Buñuel. Ferry remembered his name disappearing from the credits and being replaced with someone the producer owed a favor.

The book is crucial

Unity makes you stronger. The Association of German Scriptwriters (VDD) was founded in 1986, still under a different name. Today he starts his website with quotes, one of which is attributed to the head of MGM, Louis B. Mayer: "You need three things for a film: a good book, a good book, a good book."

Felix Huby - he was the author of the pilot film with Schimanski and made Commissioner Bienzle famous - wrote for the VDD that scripts are needed "that have a chance on the market". Well, you think, that's understandable. But Huby continues: "Whereby the ladies and gentlemen on the channels who exercise power over the program often have very subjective criteria for this or simply look at where others have already had successes in order to then copy them." Who films If you want to write, you have to ask: "Are you ready to write several versions without grumbling, even if the change requests do not necessarily make sense to you?"

Without grumbling. I could not do it.

I was a journalist, but in 1987 I wrote a film for Defa. After 1989 I kept trying to write scripts. I had many assignments such as that of a well-known director to film “Simple Stories”. While working, I happened to find out that the director did not have any rights to Ingo Schulze's book. As a writer, I was constantly making unpaid advance payments, my projects were wasting away, even if the producer had assured at the beginning: “We'll do it with you immediately.” I worked on a script for several years and kept writing new versions, convinced of the greater experience of the director and the dramaturge. At a meeting - this time I was sure that my beautiful book would be removed - the two of them announced their collaboration. You wanted to write the film by yourself now.

"But I've always changed everything you wanted," I said. "Maybe you shouldn't have done that," said the director. On one series, the producer, an industry patriarch, wanted one character to start a relationship with another character. I objected that they don't meet in my book. The old man did not have to think long: “We do it like this: She is sitting in a café. He walks by outside and sees her. He comes in, sits down with her. Boom, they know each other! ”In a television film, it was shown at 8:15 pm on ARD, the editor changed the title, I read it right before the press conference and understood: You don't count. Be glad that you have a decent job as a journalist.

We are looking for the ideal author

In 2008, screenwriter Markus Stromiedel described the general situation under the heading “How television destroys authors”: “My first director's briefing, for example, a 'crime scene'. The director greeted me briefly and then said - analogously - looking at the script that he had never read such crap before. Also legendary in my memory is the script review at which the surprisingly invited lead actress gave me a stack of manuscript pages on which she had unceremoniously rewritten a large part of my script, appreciated by the editors, who thought the procedure was okay . "
Obviously, some clients have an ideal of the author: he should be robust, modest, agile, nimble, hard-working and trusting.

A friend writes TV series. Producers and editors reacted on a purely personal level, she says. Those responsible often take away from her the feeling for her work because they rarely criticized anything specific. Every person at the meeting table wants to prove their importance. This gives the author even more work. This friend is a delicate woman. In order to be successful, she believes, you shouldn't let yourself be unsettled and criticize yourself from time to time. But she can only do that if she has enough orders.

Maybe it's easier for strong men. I have Stefan Kolditz in mind, he has just received an award for “Naked Among Wolves”. He is six feet tall, well trained and speaks combative. Such a person could piss off a powerful man at a book review, but it might be enough that the person concerned can imagine it.

All power to the author

A script is a film halfway through. Nobody knows whose ingredients the finished film owes its effect to. Some authors can enforce their ambitions through the way they write. Wolfgang Kohlhaase writes briefly, but his scenes are clear, always. In the 1960 screenplay “Der Fall Gleiwitz” he describes a concentration camp inmate's journey to death in a car: “The Gestapo man who is convicting him is sitting next to him. The bodies sway a little, the seats are soft, the road is flat. ”Moving a door on the train gets an accent:“ The swing door slams back and forth two or three times, then it stands still. One long exhale. “Everything is in front of your eyes, appears in the right proportion. Directors like to invite him to film.

There are guides for modern screenwriting. A script is still supposed to inspire empathy, but the writer is urged to leave out anything decorative, descriptive, felt and meaningful. The series author Christoph Callenberg speaks of "demons of limitation", he has to force himself not to be too detailed to work with the gap.

Some American television stations have been running series for about 15 years that grow into social panoramas. What is special is the continuous narration of complex worlds. Nothing can be foreseen. We would like to have something like that too. A German journalist asked one of the great series writers about the secret: “It's very simple,” says David Simon. "Then you have to give all the power to the author." But I don't think it will be that easy.