As Paramount plots to expand the Transformers franchise into a full-blown cinematic universe, it has assembled a crack team of Hollywood scribes led by Akiva Goldsman (Winter’s Tale), all of whom are tasked with laying the groundwork for the future of the franchise.
Steven S. DeKnight (Marvel’s Daredevil) is one member of said writers room, which also includes Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk), Jeff Pinker (Lost), Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man), The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari (Ant-Man), Christina Hodson (Shut In), Lindsey Beer, Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) and Geneva Robertson-Dworet.
Recently, at the TCAs for Daredevil, DeKnight discussed what it’s like to be a member of such a sprawling team of writers and how he’s liking the jump from television to feature filmmaking:
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.
From what DeKnight is saying, Paramount certainly seems open to bringing television-style storytelling into the Transformers franchise, especially with an eye to mapping out multiple films. He elaborated:
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.
Though the Transformers movies have been some of the worst-written in recent blockbuster cinema, here’s hoping that the massive amount of legitimate talent Paramount employed to plan out future outings will allow the franchise to improve into something with actual merit. Or, you know, they could just stay Transformers movies. But fingers crossed nonetheless.