Michael France on GoldenEye and Screen Credit Dissapointment
Long time Bond fan and successful screenwriter Michael France (Cliffhanger, The Hulk) — who was given story but not screenplay credit on GoldenEye — was interviewed recently at the website UnderGround Online (“Screenwriting Punishment with Michael France”). France spoke about his upcoming film, The Punisher, and also gave some insights into how he approached “Bond 17,” and how he felt he was under-credited in the end.
FRANCE: In Goldeneye…we were kind of reintroducing Bond – it was Pierce’s first Bond movie, it had been six years since another Bond movie had come out, and that sort of bombed, so arguably it had been eight or ten years since anyone had taken notice of Bond. I wrote a script that played up all of my favorite things about Bond – all the classic elements, his sophistication balanced by his ruthlessness, the way he is either repelled by his job or thrilled by it, depending on the situation…and I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen in the movies. It occurred to me that we’d never really seen Bond interacting with another Double O sector agent. In the rest of the series, they are nameless, faceless characters…M says, “003 got killed in Malaysia but he sent us this expository note”, or something, and the story would move on with just a slight reaction from Bond, if any at all. That seemed false to me. I thought Bond would have very good friends in the sector – that they’d be as tight as men who go into combat together — and I thought it would really be something to build up that kind of relationship and make a Double O agent the villain. Just figuring out that character relationship – that Bond would torture himself because he blames himself for the death of his friend, then learning that the whole thing was a setup allowing that same “friend” to betray him — gave me a great deal of the story and screenplay for Goldeneye.
SV: We’ve read that you felt you were under-credited on Goldeneye. Can you give us a bit of insight into what happened and, more importantly for struggling writers out there, how the crediting process works in relation to getting story credit?
FRANCE: I wish I could give you more insight into what happened in this case, but just about everything in a credit arbitration is kept very secret by the WGA. The producers proposed that I would receive first position “written by” credit on Goldeneye. But it went to arbitration at the Writers Guild, and at least two out of three arbiters did not agree with what the studio proposed. I wound up with just a story credit, despite the fact (and I very comfortably use the word “fact”) that I wrote more of the screenplay than anyone else involved. I’m not knocking the writers who did receive credit when I say that – both of them have told me privately that they thought I should have received screenplay credit. I don’t know what to tell your readers, except that the Writers Guild credit arbitration process is unavoidable and unpredictable. I believe the process generally works, but every working writer has a disappointment in dealing with that system, and Goldeneye is definitely mine.
For the complete interview visit UnderGround Online (UGO).
For a list of Michael France’s screen credits visit IMDb.