Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I was driving to an appointment today listening to the radio - I still listen to the radio even though I have a CD player - and that one Kid Rock song came on. You know the song that uses the tune from "Werewolves of London" and "Sweet Home Alabama"? Every single time it comes on I think it's going to be "Werewolves of London" and then I'm all disappointed when it's not.

It reminds me of way back when Puffy first sampled "Every Breath You Take" for his B.I.G. tribute and every single time that song came on you thought it was going to be "Every Breath You Take" and you'd be all like "Aw, son of a bitch" when it turned out to be that lame Puffy song. That used to really piss me off.

When this happens, all I think about is how much I'd rather be listening to that other, better song.

I get that sometimes with screenplays too. We all love movies or we wouldn't be here, so sometimes it's really tempting to use an homage to your favorite movie in your script. I read a script once that used actual lines of dialogue from Scarface, and every so often I'll read a script where the characters spend pages of dialogue talking about movies they like or don't like. Kevin Smith got away with it because his characters were interesting, but that isn't a good idea for most new writers.

When I read a script that reminds me of another movie I love, I begin to think about how good that movie was, and all that does is make me wish I was watching that movie instead of reading this crappy screenplay.

You don't want anyone to think about better movies while they're reading yours.


  1. First, that's the perfect caption for that picture. I laughed hard at that reference.

    Oddly enough, I heard that same song on the radio this afternoon and had the exact same thought about being disappointed when it's not "Werwolves of London." And don't even get me started on my rage for what Jessica Simpson did to one of my favorite John Cougar Mellencamp songs.

    But yeah, a very good point. Sometimes filmmakers can get away with this in the actual movie, but when I read a script and come across a "sampled scene" all I can think of is "Hack." Sometimes you can get away with a stray line, but if half a scene quotes another scene, you've got a problem.

  2. Anonymous5:23 PM

    HI Emily, read some scripts from Japan. One director used "derivatives" with great expertness. Are you a fan of films and scripts from Japan?

  3. I am a fan of Japanese film, although I'm more familiar with films from Hong Kong.

  4. the exception to this being a really skilled parody like Hot Fuzz - where the intentional references to other films just make it funnier. (Too bad most makers of such comedies seem to think that repeating the original scene and adding fart noises or a prat fall makes it funny.)

  5. Agreed. Hot Fuzz is brilliant.


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.