Script doctor

A script doctor is a skilled screenwriter called in to assist a film project by rewriting parts of the screenplay to improve dialogue, pacing and other elements. Script doctors are usually uncredited, so it is usually difficult to tell who has been involved.

The use of script doctors was first revealed at the Academy Awards in 1973 when Francis Ford Coppola thanked Robert Towne for his work on The Godfather. Since then the use of script doctors has usually been downplayed to avoid overshadowing the work of the early writers in constructing the story. Under the WGA screenwriting credit system used by both the Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, west, a screenwriter must contribute 50 percent to the story and/or characterization in order to qualify for credit. Uncredited screenwriters are not eligible to win the Writers Guild of America Awards.

Script doctors are usually brought in after the screenplay has been "locked" (i.e., the scenes numbered and pages fixed); on his website, John August revealed that when asked to doctor a script he is sent a disc of the script by the last writer, so doctoring requires little physical retyping. A number of prominent independent film makers, such as John Sayles work as script doctors in order to earn the money and clout necessary to make their own films.

Notable script doctors

See also

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