Attn:jms authorship of B5?

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Mon Oct 23 06:32:32 EDT 1995

Subject: Attn:jms authorship of B5?
+  1: Oct 18, 1995: Morgan <Morgan at>
*  2: Oct 22, 1995: straczynski at


From: Morgan <Morgan at>
Lines: 44

Simple question:  

Do you consider yourself to be an auter? (In relation to B5)

Complex reason for asking:

In general, I don't buy autership at all.  Moving image is collaberative,
and I find it very difficult to pull out one individual from the thread.
Even Hitchcock was nothing without his own 'team'.  However, there are a
few, whose 'teams' appear to carry a collated vision, that disappears
when the director is not there...(Coppola comes to mind) so I sometimes
give it house room.


In Britain, in television (as opposed to Cinema) the writer is generally
regarded as the auteur of the work.  Director's get to be also rans, and the
creative moment is seen to be the act of the pen on paper.  Thus drama
series are billed by the writer "Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective" etc.
I buy into this a great deal easier than the Cinematic Director jazz.

So there, I have no problem, when I'm thinking about it, to make yours the
voice of authority on B5 - particulalry since you've hacked out so much 
creative control for yourself.

but I still wonder.  I mean, there's so much going on, and I find myself mulling
over this again and again...making you the autuer implies getting rid of the
others. and it gets straight back to the collaberative art bit..and I keep
wondering about it.  So I thought the simplest way out of it was to ask you how
you felt about your own role, in relation to autership, keeping in mind the
British writer as auter thing.  Is that how you see yourself?  Is B5 defined
in relation to you?  Or in relation to how you motivate others?  Where do
you think your vision lies in the process of making this particular piece of
Television History?


"Nunc demum intellego" dixit Winnie ille Pu.  "Stultus et delusus fui,"
dixit, "et ursus sine ullo cerebro sum."


From: straczynski at
Lines: 37

     For starters, I have problem with the auteur term.  What most folks
forget is that this term originated with the Cahiers du Cinema (I think I
may have hideously misspelled that) which actually began a series of
screenings/presentations on each aspect of film-making, the writer, the
director, the cinematographer...started with the director...and basically
got so caught up in that aspect that they dropped the rest.
    So let's stick with "author" for the moment.  To that question, yes,
I do consider myself the author of the B5 story, the creator of itsz
characters and universe.  Insofar as we enter other areas, my position is
that of navigator...I point to a spot on the horizon, and say "That's
where we're all going."  Each department/artistic aspect of the show,
from props, to costumes, to the director, works to most accurately create
what I see in my head.  The most common question is, "Is this what you had
in mind when you wrote it?"
     I keep an eye on every aspect of the show, to make sure it's what I
see in my head.  If something isn't right, it's redone until it *is*
right.  Nonetheless, I try to provide as much latitude as possible to my
people, to let them be as creative as they have the potential to be.
     Sometimes there's some irony in the situation; in "And the Sky Full
of Stars," for instance, Janet is noted for the notion of having Sinclair
standing facing these lights that go out, one by one, except for the one
that spotlights him, when he's confronted by Knight Two, people say, "Oh
what a great directorial idea," but that's spelled out to the smallest
detail in the script.  Ditto for the intercutting of scenes in the fall
of the emperor in "Coming."  That's often attributed to the director, but
it was specifically scripted that way, right down to the use of slow-mo
for some shots, the way in which he falls, all of it.
     This is because of that nutty auteur theory that many directors have
wrapped around themselves like a flag.  With the obvious exception of
writer/directors, I've never seen any director do much with the auteur
theory and 100 blank pages.

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