Should Hollywood Outsource Screenplays?

One of the biggest causes of nightmares for Hollywood writers, scriptwriters, directors and producers is the idea of a fully automated Hollywood movie. Using big data, social media trends, advanced computerized animation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, it’s not impossible for Hollywood to reach a stage where everything from coming up with the idea for a movie all the way to actually acting out the movie, testing it with select focus groups and releasing, will all take place at the same time, at the same place.

We’re still probably a decade or two away from this, but we already have the technology. It’s no surprise that a lot of people are shaking in their boots about this happening because who needs actors? Who needs highly paid directors? Who needs Hollywood if you think about it?

But thankfully, this is still not the reality. There is instead a more pressing issue facing Hollywood.

We all know that there are a lot of creative people living in the United States. Every single year, people from high school students to retirees come up with this one hot idea for a Hollywood movie. What do you think they’d do? They would come up with a screenplay and all these thousands of screenplays would rain down on Hollywood and guess what? Only a tiny, tiny fraction gets turned into a movie.

Most of the time, the scripts based on those screenplays are completely Hollywood creations. In other words, writers who have the right connection, writers who already paid their dues in Hollywood, these are the ones who tend to get more of their work produced in Hollywood than completely random wet behind the ears screenplay writers.

With that said, there is quite a bit of a trend involving outsourcing. As you probably already know, when you outsource any kind of creative work to the other side of the planet, you save a lot of money on labor.

California can be a very expensive place to operate a business in. Not only do you have to pay people a lot of money, but there’s also a lot of insurance, and a lot of laws that you have to comply with that inflate your costs. It is no surprise that some production houses have been tempted to outsource screenplays to places like India and the Philippines.

These two countries have huge populations of people who speak English as a second language. These two countries are also blessed with a huge amount of people who are extremely resourceful and creative. Sounds like a match in heaven, right?

Well, there is one factor that prevents Hollywood screenplays from being outsourced en masse. It’s actually quite easy to see this factor. The factor, of course, is the culture barrier. Try telling a joke in English in India and either the Indians would laugh or the Americans would laugh, but it’s rarely both. The same applies to the Philippines.


So this is the big divide here. While it’s been shown that action movies with a lot of explosions and shootings and hijackings, that kind of stuff, work well regardless of culture or language, when it comes to drama, romantic comedies and straight comedies, it’s a little bit more dicey.


So is it time for Hollywood to outsource? Probably not. Should it at some point in time? All bets are off. There are still some serious structural issues getting in the way.

I highly suspect that movies would probably be fully automated before we even reach a point where outsourcing screenplays makes great financial sense.