Script Doctor


A script doctor is a highly-skilled screenwriter, hired by a film or television production, to rewrite or polish specific aspects of an existing screenplay, including structure, characterization, dialogue, pacing, theme, and other elements. Script doctors generally do their work uncredited, for a variety of commercial and artistic reasons. Script doctors are usually brought in during the development and pre-production phases of a film, to address specific issues with the script, as identified by the financiers, production team, and cast. They may also be employed during post production, to help address narrative problems that crop up during the editing process.

The use of script doctors was first revealed at the 1973 Academy Awards when Francis Ford Coppola thanked Robert Towne for his work on The Godfather. Since then, the use of script doctors has been downplayed within the industry, to avoid overshadowing the work of the original writers. Under the WGA screenwriting credit system, 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 Academy Award for Best Screenplay or the Writers Guild of America Awards.

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