William Goldman, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter — on the role of the film director and the bottom line on his experience working with Rob Reiner who directed the film version of Goldman’s book The Princess Bride for which he also wrote the screenplay — as heard on BBC Radio 4 Cultural Exchange
"For any screenwriter the bloodbath relationship is that with the director and it is adversarial. Directors are extraordinarily overrated in the minds of the public; not that they’re not important. They’re very important. But so is the cinematographer. And, when I say overrated I mean the critics tend to say, oh, it’s so-and-so so-and-so’s movie, it’s Steven Speilberg’s ‘Empire of the Sun’. Well, he didn’t write it and he didn’t shoot it and he didn’t edit it and he didn’t write the score. He directed it as he directs all his stuff, wonderfully. But there’s a temptation to think of the film director as being the same as the painter and that he ain’t. He’s just someone on board and he’s trying to keep the ship from sinking. That’s all he is, like the rest of us.
When you work with a director who has respect for you and who wants to use you, it’s wonderful. When you work for a director who has contempt for you and can’t wait to fire you so he can bring in his friend who is probably writing in the closet now, it’s not a happy experience. Anyway, it was a wonderful experience working with Reiner.”
Photo: laughingsquid.com / photo by Art Streiber via Warholian