Last week, the House passed the American Health Care Act aka Trumpcare. Websites, pundits and the general political community either behaved like this was either the end of the world, or the greatest thing since sliced bread, depending on your point of view. I don’t believe it was either. In fact, I believe it was akin to the development of a screenplay in the movie industry.
For the few in the film industry that read my columns, the American Health Care Act is the equivalent of a first draft of screenplay. It’s a good idea. In fact, it’s good enough to warrant further development. However, it is not a final draft. And, it should not be treated as such.
A screenplay can be developed in a number of ways. It can start with an idea. It can start with a treatment. Or, it can even start from an outside source. However, the first delineation of it, is almost never the last. The screenplay is developed sometimes for years before it finally becomes something made into a movie.
During the development phase, the screenplay often changes dramatically. Sometimes, the final product looks nothing like the first draft. However, sometimes, it looks a lot like the first draft. More often than not, it is the former.
Studio executives give input to the writer. The director and producers give input to the writer. Sometimes, even the actors give the writer input. After each draft, the input from these people become part of the story and part of what will eventually end up on the screen.
According to Barbara Schock:
Development is a dirty word in the film business. To screenwriters in Hollywood, it means toiling under the tutelage of a team of business people, endeavoring to give them what they want, all the while realizing that there is little chance that their script will ever get made. To development executives, it means finding an idea, novel, or original screenplay and then having to work with a writer who can be alternately moody, recalcitrant, or even lazy – and then being disappointed with the results. For the studio executive, development is a necessary evil in order to stay ahead in the idea-production factory game of Hollywood.
At some point, the development ends. At that point and that point only, there is a finished product.
The Bill passed by the House last week in my opinion is a first draft. By the way, you can read it here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1628/text Ok, you can argue, it’s one step beyond a first draft as its been amended and reviewed a number of times already.
However, it is nowhere near a final draft. Now, the Senate can get their hands on it. And, they will. The latest is that the Senate will not even use this draft. They will create a draft of their own. In the film business that is starting all over.
Regardless of whether they start over or use, H.R. 1628, by the time it comes out of the Senate it will be different. Then, whatever comes out of the Senate must reconcile with H.R. 1628. So, again it will be different. Eventually, something will come out of Congress and that will go to the President for signature.
Each of these drafts is more script development. I can’t even begin to tell you how many more drafts there will be. The number will be no less than 2 and probably more like 10-15.
So, what came out of the House last week is nothing to high five or complain about. It is only the beginning of a long, hard process. And, that process is nothing more than the equivalent of developing a script into a movie.
However, the politics are different. Politically, it is better to complain about what happened last week. Or, if you’re in the GOP to brag. But, once the dust settles, people should know nothing really happened. Yet.