How is Hollywood and Bollywood screenplay writing different?
By Pinaki Ghosh
Nick is back from Maine.
From the recent inquiries we discovered that a lot of student filmmakers looking for screenwriters are coming to our TheScreenplayWriters.com. So we decided to set up a team of writers exclusively for the student filmmakers, who are tight on budget.
We may soon have another couple of really big names joining our team of screenplay writers. But I’d prefer to remain tight lipped till that is confirmed.
I believe there are two fantasy film screenwriting projects in the pipeline, which I expect to come to me this September. They come from two of my old clients. The demand for fantasy screenplays are also increasing stunningly. Harry Potter effect? Maybe. One thing is sure, till this Harry Potter bubble is intact, we will remain busy.
Since we are catering both the Hollywood and Bollywood industries and as such have a team of writers who hail from both these massive industries, I discovered some interesting differences in the ways scripts are written in Hollywood and Bollywood.
One. Hollywood filmmakers do not expect, neither allow the script writer to use camera and editing directions in their screenplay. That is left for the director and editor. I agree. If the screenplay writer decides how the camera should be placed or how it should move, or how the editing should be done, why the hell are the director and the editor employed? Just to follow the instructions of the screenwriter? In the Bollywood industry however I noticed some of the directors encourage the screenplay author to use camera directions like pan, trolley, or directions about the angle, as well as editing instructions. Interesting, isn’t it?
Two. Now this is an even more interesting difference, and Hollywood may wonder why at all it is like that in Bollywood. Bollywood, in addition to script writers employ separate dialog writers, and dialog writers are separately given credit and payment. The screenplay writer and the dialog writer are often different persons. Of course it is not that way in Hollywood. If I try to trace the roots of this practice, it comes from the days when melodramatic movies were made in Bollywood (arguably, this practice has not entirely been discontinued). There were separate writers, besides the screenplay writers, who could empower the dialogs, add spice to the dialogs and make them powerful. I have myself seen in my childhood, people in theatres used to burst into applause and throw coins in the direction of the screen when powerful dialogs were delivered. I don’t know if such coin shower happens or happened for similar reasons anywhere else in the world. The practice of a dialog writer still exists in Bollywood, though nowadays in a lot of movies the screenplay writer and the dialog writer are the same person. But they get paid twice for the two roles. Nice… to get paid twice for one work.
August 26, 2009 @ 12:30 am
Thanks for the nice article. The one major difference I think is that it is very difficult to have someone to read the spec-script of a newcomer in Bollywood or Tollywood. I am trying for a long time to find someone in Bengali film industry to whom I can submit my scripts but I’m yet to find one. Mails and phone calls to some Mumbai production houses were also useless. In comparison, one of my spec-script was taken for evaluation by an LA literary agency.
Found your blog by chance and really enjoyed it. Good luck