Book Trends Blog

March 28, 2011

The Ageism of Screenwriting by Bob Spear

Filed under: Book Writers,Screenwriting — bobspear @ 9:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Unlike Andy Rooney, I’m just old, not really old. Still, being 65 years old is, in my opinion, a disadvantage when it comes to writing screenplays. Books often gain in content detail and descriptiveness by authors who are well seasoned in the world. Movies, however, require very different writing skills. Now I realize what I’m going to say is opinionated; however, I base it on what I’ve seen, heard, and logical understanding.

For the most part, movies aim for a younger audience. Screenwriters must be totally “with it,” in terms of language, issues, and societal norms. A common complaint by producers and their readers is that submitted material is too “dated.” A successful screenwriter needs to stay on top of current language and trends. One has to be careful about mentioning music that is out of date and styles of dress that are too square, (or whatever the most recent term is for being uncool).

Even if an older person has managed to stay socially current, his or her very appearance works against them as far as their acceptability as a screenwriter is concerned. After all, anyone who looks that old couldn’t possibly write for a younger audience. I say this despite the fact that many wonderful YA and Mid-grade books have been written by older authors. The movie industry is very youth oriented. (Just ask any aging female star). Its screeners and decision makers tend to be much younger than the book industry’s. They tend to identify with a younger mix of talent.

I don’t have an easy solution for this, but it is a trend I’ve noticed. Perhaps some of you will tell me I’m full of it, or more importantly that there are constructive suggestions for dealing with the problem. In any case, unlike book writing, screenwriting is much more difficult to enter late in life.

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