The Transformers writer’s room has been making the headlines recently, adding more and more names to the list of storytellers who have been tasked with moving the franchise forward through a range of prequels, sequels and spinoffs. The final piece has now fallen into place with the announcement that Steven DeKnight will take the last seat at that table. DeKnight is riding a wave a success following the impressive debut of the first season of Daredevil on Netflix – a series for which he was showrunner, in addition to writing, directing and producing.
DeKnight joins a creative team that already consists of Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down), Geneva Robertson-Dworet (whose script Hibernation was featured on the Black List), Christina Hodson (Shut In), newcomer Lindsey Beer, Andrew Barrer (Haunt), Gabriel Ferrari (Barrer’s writing partner), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man), Zak Penn (Avengers Assemble), and Jeff Pinkner (Fringe). The team and its writer’s room is bring run by Academy Award winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), who recently explained to Deadline the logic behind the establishment of a writer’s room in movie-making.
“There is such reciprocity between TV and movies now that we’re borrowing this from TV. I got a taste of this from JJ Abrams when I came in to write an episode of Fringe, and then Jeff Pinkner let me hang around for four years like the drunk uncle. The whole process of the story room was really delightful, and we are seeing it more in movies as this moves toward serialised storytelling. There are good rooms around town, including the Monsters room at Universal, the Star Wars room, and of course, at Marvel. We’re trying to beg, borrow and steal from the best of them and gathered a group of folks interested in developing and broadening this franchise. There is a central corridor of movies that has been proceeding quite well, but our challenge will be to answer, where do we go from here?”
The idea of ‘film writing by committee’ has long been thought of contemptuously, with the suggestion that it tends to gives rise to a bland, homogenised end product. However, while that may be true in the case of standalone, blockbuster movies written by many in a piece-meal fashion, this ‘writer’s room’ approach may well be spearheading something of an evolution in cinema with regard to franchise properties beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
By mirroring the writing approach of episodic television, creators of episodic film – such as Transformers – may now be able to take us beyond the worn prequel-sequel process, and into much more interesting territory.