Q. I'm intrigued by the concept of retroscripting, whereby my improv trained actors would use the script as more of a loose road map, or just go by an outline without a script at all. If the actors were just changing some lines from an existing script, I don't suppose writing credit is necessary, but what if actors where working without a script or with a partial script?
Normally I wouldn't expect to give improv actors script credit. The writer is providing the narrative framework for the improv; and then the writer is also refining the lines the actors improv. I haven't heard of any instances of actors getting script credit for improvising their lines, even if those lines are then written down.
But then, I'm a writer, so I would say that.
Has anyone heard of actors getting script credit for their improvs? When there are actual writers involved in the show?
It wasn't a show, but Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were given co-writing credit on "Before Sunset"--and were even nominated for Academy Awards for writing--along with Richard Linklater, based largely on improvisation of their characters. How much they actual sat down and wrote their characters, I don't know. It's also possible that they went into the project (which was a sequel) with Linklater planning to improvise scenes that he would then write down and script as part of the writing process. But, it sort of counts.
Do you remember that half-hour daily soap-styled dramedy series, Train 48, that aired on Global for 3 seasons a few years back? They had a writing staff that provided general outlines for each ep and created season-long story archs, but the actors improvised all their lines when it came time to tape each day's episode. It was shot between 9am and 3pm, edited together, music, soud effects added etc., then it was on the air on the east coast by 7pm. For a while, there, it was on 5 days a week -- including Holidays. The schedule nearly killed them! Anyway, on the screen at the end of each ep, was a thank you and acknowledgement of the actors' contribution but they were not given writing credits.
We're treading on dangerous, mine-laden territory here, giving the meat-puppets credit for going where we tell them...
Is the director going to get this credit too? He's as responsible for the storytelling as much as anyone...
Good fences make good neighbors...
The short-lived Fred Goss/ABC show Sons and Daughters had improv-ed dialogue based on an outline, but the actors didn't get writing credit.
I think there's an odd credit buried in the final crawl of Strictly Ballroom, giving some kind of credit to the actors whose improvisation created the stage play the film was based on.
I think "acknowledgment" is probably more appropriate than "credit". Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay for Taxi Driver, but he's the first one to acknowledge that DeNiro's "you talkin' to me" bit was ad-libbed by the actor. Same with lots of other seminal lines -- "Come out to playyyy" from The Warriors was ad-libbed by the actor, etc.
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