If you sell a screenplay and it goes into production, is there any way to get on-set to watch your movie being filmed, even if it has been re-written?
One of the issues that came up in the latest negotiation between the Writers Guild and the studios was whether screenwriters should have guaranteed access to the set. Surprisingly, the biggest opponent to the idea was the Directors Guild, perhaps concerned that having writers on the set might diminish the director’s power and control.
In the end, allowing writers to visit the set was added to a new list of "preferred practices." It’s a compromise, but certainly a step in the right direction.
Even without the latest ruling, in my experience the level of the writer’s involvement during production has everything to do with his relationship with the director and producers. On GO, I was there for every frame shot. On CHARLIE’S ANGELS, I trekked down to the soundstages occasionally. MINORITY REPORT, just once. (And that was mostly just to see the sets, which were the most elaborate things I’ve ever seen.)
What few writers understand before visting a set is just how boring they are. Shooting a movie is like running through mud, and if you don’t have a job on the set, it gets old incredibly fast. For my money, a writer’s time is better spent in the editing room, helping to find the best movie in the footage that was shot. You don’t get to hobnob with big stars, but you’re more likely to actually improve the movie.