The comment thread on my earlier post has mostly focussed on intellectual property and “fairness,” with one good Nabisco analogy rising above the rest.

Lost in the discussion is that I never insisted ScriptShadow be shut down, but rather pushed it to stay true to its stated mission. ScriptShadow’s many defenders see the site as an invaluable resource for aspiring writers.

So far, few of them have addressed my two proposed changes:

  1. Review screenplays of movies once they’ve come out.
  2. Ask the writers before posting reviews of unproduced scripts.

“Carson” doesn’t review scripts after the movie has come out. Why not? If the purpose of his site is to celebrate writers and acquaint newbies with the craft, isn’t that in fact a more valuable exercise, showing how the words on the page translate to the screen?

I think we all know why he doesn’t want to review existing movies: he’d lose the buzz that comes with having the first opinion. It’s part of the reason we want to go to movies on opening weekend, or stand for hours in the Sundance snow to see a movie we wouldn’t walk across the street to see in March.

I’m not faulting him for human nature, but rather disingenuousness. It’s cool to be first. But don’t claim that being first on reviewing an old draft of Supermax is somehow improving the world for screenwriters.

The second point, asking writers before posting reviews, is an acknowledgement that some unproduced/unsold writers benefit from exposure.

Would they benefit less if Carson asked first? No.

There are many great scripts that never get produced, just as there are many great books that never get published. If Carson truly wants to shine a spotlight on these unheralded gems, he should have the courtesy to ask the writer first, rather than review whatever random draft he comes across. For all he knows, he’s reading the version written for the executive who insisted on heavy voiceover, “Y’know, so the audience will know what he’s thinking.”

On the point that ScriptShadow is letting readers outside Hollywood read screenplays: Google “title of the movie” screenplay. If the first page doesn’t have a direct link, another minute of searching will find huge libraries. Reading these scripts to actual films that got made will serve any aspiring writer much better than the second draft of a vampire dog thriller in development at Lionsgate.

Carson Reeves emailed this afternoon, asking that I remove his real name from the comments. I did so with the hope that he’ll address some of the concerns raised.