Steven S. DeKnight (Daredevil, Spartacus), one of the bakers dozen writers helping to shape the future of the Transformers Cinematic Universe, briefly commented on his experience with the room.
You know, it’s that wonderful thing where features are now taking a page from television and getting people together to plan things out, and it was a wonderful experience. Akiva Goldsman was fantastic, and Jeff Pinkner, who’s co-writing the 5th movie with him, was phenomenal — Zak Penn — it was just a room full of brilliant, funny, amazing people. We spent two and a half weeks in best — psychically, the best writers’ room I’ve ever seen in my life. Paramount pulled out all the stops. It was phenomenal. We laughed, and joked, and told stories and plotted out — I can’t say what we plotted out, but it was all very exciting. In the next few months we’ll see what moves forward and what doesn’t move forward. It was a fantastic experience. One of the best experiences of that was when Steven Spielberg popped by to just sit, and talk, and hear what we were working on. Everybody was about to throw up they were so excited.Time will tell if this approach will bring positive results to the critically slammed franchise. Except for the first movie, the MO of the movies was Bay and company would design the characters and the major action sequences of the movie around essentially a summary of the potential story line and then the writer would work backwards and incorporate those things into the movie. The result has been mixed at best as often its pretty clear that the movies' "plot" was really just a way to get from action scene A to action scene B. Assuming Bay direct Transformers 5, does this mean he will have to design the action scenes around a finished script or are they just really developing that next summary to work backwards from at a later date? We will probably not know for many months.
What do you think that franchise learned from the experience of having a writers room with a lot of TV writers?
DEKNIGHT: It remains to be seen. I think the biggest thing that does when you’re dealing with a franchise that is so global and makes so much money, is actually taking a moment to think things out. Because a lot of the time, you go into production and you don’t have a finished script, the script is still being worked on. It’s very difficult to work that way. I can’t imagine — especially with the second movie when the writer’s strike happened and Michael Bay has to start prepping anyway — I can’t imagine trying to prep a movie of that size and complexity not having a locked script. It happens all the times in movies, you just have to start because of people’s availabilities. So my hat’s off to Paramount for trying something new in this way and really giving this writers room thing a spin. For me, it was a fantastic experience. I loved it.
Would you use the writers’ room method on a feature film?
DEKNIGHT: If it was one feature, probably not. For one thing, I don’t think they would ever pay for it, because writers are kind of expensive to get them all together. But if it was for a bigger franchise that was a trilogy? Absolutely, I think it’s a great way to go.