Becoming Alan Smithee – Mistakes Screenwriters Turned First-Time Directors Should Avoid

Warning screenwriters! Making a movie isn’t as simple as you might think. Paul Peditto opens up about his first directing experience so screenwriters turned first-time directors learn from his mistakes.

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Alan Smithee was an official pseudonym used by film directors who wish to disown a project, coined in 1968.”- Wikipedia

Leave it to the Wikipedia elves to have detailed every Alan Smithee project with a known director in every medium on one of their pages.[2]

Quite a list, some great directors who have disowned their projects including Michael Mann, William Friedkin, David Lynch, and Arthur Hiller. These films are usually train wrecks that the director bails on, as was the case with the Hiller film.

From Wikipedia: “In 1998, the film An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn was released, in which a man named Alan Smithee (Eric Idle) wishes to disavow a film he has directed, but is unable to do so because the only pseudonym he is permitted to use is his own name. The film was directed by Arthur Hiller, who reported to the DGA that producer Joe Eszterhas had interfered with his creative control, and successfully removed his own name from the film, so “Alan Smithee” was credited instead. The film was a commercial and critical failure, released in only 19 theaters, grossing only $45,779 in the US with a budget of about $10 million, and the Rotten Tomatoes web site reports an aggregate critical rating of only 8% positive.”

I’ve bemoaned Jane Doe too often here[3] on Script Mag and my own site Script Gods[4]. It’s the single feature-film I directed with a 250K budget, a doomed movie that somehow ended up making a couple million bucks (Calista Flockhart, our lead, becoming Ally McBeal a year later might have had something to do with it), landing on Entertainment Tonight and in a shitload of Blockbuster video stores, back in the prehistoric days when there were video stores.

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