Despite my jet lag, here are this week’s Friday Questions. If the answers make no sense that’s why.
I've always contended that the order of importance for a successful movie is: 1) script; 2) casting; and 3) direction. Do you weight one factor over another or all equally? My contention is that if you have a great script and cast it right it's hard for the director to screw it up.
A bad director can absolutely kill a good project whereas a good director can sometimes enhance material, get superior performances and elevate a movie.
All three elements (cast, script, direction) are key. If there’s a weak link it can bring down the whole thing.
But if I had to pick one of the three that was most important, I would begrudgingly have to say casting. Audiences go to movies to see people they like on the screen. If it’s a star they love they will often forgive a sub-par script or sloppy direction. There’s a great Billy Wilder quote about Marilyn Monroe, whom he directed in two movies:
My Aunt Minnie would always be punctual and never hold up production, but who would pay to see my Aunt Minnie?
Wendy M. Grossman has a question about Cybil Shepherd, who I discussed a few weeks ago.
If Shepherd is horrible to work with *and* (as I agree) an acting stiff, how on earth does she keep getting work?
She doesn’t get much. Not anymore. A guest spot here and there. But the word is out. I guarantee you her agent or manager puts her up for lots of roles and is told, “Life’s too short.”
Meanwhile, a sweetie like Margo Martindale will be working steady as long as she wants.
Were there any secondary actors or characters on any of the sitcoms you were involved with that you thought shoulda-woulda-coulda been expanded and given more of a role as a series went on, and potentially making the show even better as it progressed season to season?
We only did thirteen but the episodes where the main story featured either of them were far and away our best.
It’s a little tricky when you have a starring vehicle and that star owns the studio and the lot, but our plans were to slowly work Katey and John into roles of more prominence.
Brian Hennings asks:
Following your comment about THE CELL by Mark Legan and Mark Wilding, do you think it is worth writing something that is good but has no chance of being made as a way of obtaining recognition? Maybe an unusual subject matter helps a script cut through the noise of so many other scripts? Does the writing shine through, or do people in the industry discount it since the writer clearly doesn't understand the market?
Sure. Write something outlandish, BUT also write a pilot that is potentially saleable and a spec for an existing show.
The best you can hope for with a pilot that is clearly not mainstream is that a producer/agent/studio/whoever will be impressed and want to read more.
But if you want to use it as a lure, then sure. Just have the necessary back-ups.
Were any of those answers coherent? What’s your Friday Question?