TV’s red herring
With a TV advertising boom boosting profits for producers and fueling salary hikes for screenwriters, everyone and their mother seems to be writing scripts these days.
Vietnam Film Company (VFC) Deputy Director Thuy Linh said her writers can only provide a small percentage of the scripts the company needs to shoot each year.
And there are few established screenwriters around to fill the void.
Scriptwriter Nguyen Thu Phuong said she received three orders from Ho Chi Minh City Television Film Studios (TFS) last year but could only provide them with one 10-episode series due to her busy schedule.
With the high demand for new scripts and increasing advertising revenues trickling down into screenwriters’ pockets, Linh said, “It’s a golden age for scriptwriters.”
Indeed, some successful writers are making between US$25,000-50,000 a year just writing TV episodes. Even film critics and former script advisors are being offered up to VND 10 million ($555) for a single television episode.
Catching wind of the industry’s new rewards, more writers are now writing and submitting than ever before.
VFC and TFS are employing some 30 professional scriptwriters who write more than 400 episodes each year.
Many of the scripts trying to take advantage of the new profitability are now coming from writing collectives, the latest trend in the Vietnamese film industry.
Luong Ha Song Thuy (2 Ha 2 Thuy) and Soi Con (Young Wolves) are two of the most notable new groups to have won lucrative scriptwriting contracts from the likes of VFC, TFS and other television companies.
Singer Ha Anh Thu is also now working as a nearly full-time screenwriter with veteran film pen Dang Thu Ha. The two are working on several VFC series after the their Tet (The Lunar New Year) holiday cooperation, Em muon lam nguoi noi tieng (I want to be a celebrity), last year.
Scriptwriter Nguyen Thu Phuong also told Thanh Nien Daily that she was collaborating with several young writers as part of a group effort to produce scripts.
Writer Nguyen Quang Lap’s script company includes 12 professional scriptwriters that have attended a Ford Foundation-funded training program. The company is now working on seven scripts they aim to sell for a total of over VND1 billion ($56,000).
But Lap said the higher profitability hasn’t brought about higher quality. In fact, he says just the opposite has happened.
The better the script, the worse the show
Lap says he doesn’t even want to watch his own shows on TV, such as VTV3’s Lap trinh trai tim (Programming the heart).
“What they show is only 40 percent of the script ... The most important parts are all cut out and replaced with commercials,” he says.
He said the more advertising contracts the stations get, the more scenes they cut out from the original script. The network pockets between VND 1.2 – 1.8 billion ($66,666-100,000) from advertising on each episode, he said.
“Television stations don’t care about the audience, profits are the priority. Each episode is cut recklessly and the audiences are left confused. They ruin scripts.”
He minced no words describing the effect it has on finished products.
“The better the script, the worse it becomes on TV.”
Reported by Hoang Anh
Link from www.thanhniennews.com/entertaiments/