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I covered (assessed/wrote a script report) a sci-fi screenplay for a film financier a few years ago. The screenplay was produced and released as REPLICAS (2018), and starred Keanu Reeves and Alice Eve.

My overview of the script then was:

‘The quality of the screenwriting is undermined by issues with the concept, and genre confusion. Attempts to suspend disbelief are threatened because the script is neither full-on Obi-Wan sci-fi fantasy, nor dramatic ‘reality’; it’s somewhere in between. Flip buddy movie dialogue sits uneasily alongside the tragedy of a man losing his family; and so despite skilled efforts to inspire empathy, the emotional punch of the script is diluted. Concerns over audience appeal also centre around the ease with which the hero resurrects his family with faux science, and finds out that it’s the human touch that adds the missing spark that enables true resurrection. This is a risky and clichéd concept executed with confidence and skill.’ Watching the film now and reading the film fan user reviews and professional film critic responses on IMDb suggests my assessment at the time as about right.

I don’t say this to prove myself right, but to highlights the huge problems involved with making quality films.

Making good (artistically and commercially successful, for want of a better definition of ‘good’) films is very difficult. A major problem is that the wrong people make decisions about the screenplay, which is essentially the story the film audience experiences in the same way as screenwriters are the authors of films. We should take our hats off to the creative forces behind excellent films.

Of many, three key things are required by above the line film movers and shakers: trust, insight and control.

The director and producers must trust the screenwriter/s they have hired to author the film; they must have the dramatic insight to know why they can (or can’t) trust the screenwriter/s; and someone (likely the director or principle developmental producer) must exert control over the film project to prevent it getting screwed up anywhere from the initial concept, through the screenwriting and script development process, through film production, and all the way to editing.

This is a very long journey, and few people can control a film project from start to finish for many reasons. Among these reasons will be the clash of egos. Let’s remember that few people have relationships with truth. Most of us have relationships with our insecurities.

The REPLICAS film screenplay could have been improved easily prior to production if the right people had known or acknowledged there were problems, and been able to sort them out before a lot of film investor money was lost. But that’s life. By which I mean that’s film.

Happy screenwriting.

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