Over at the If This Is A Blog Then What's Christmas? Blog, Ben Kay has written a piece on why you should not bother writing dialogue for TV commercials. Do go and read the whole thing here
Now I should say that I don't know Ben, never, to my knowledge, even met him, but I read his blog and enjoy much of what is there. I also have a suspicion that he's a little bit of a weasel and that this post is really meant to provoke a reaction rather than share a passionately held belief - all of which is perfectly fine with me, I've been known to do it myself.
But I passionately disagree with the premise behind the post that says; writing good dialogue is hard, you certainly shouldn't give it ago, copywriter. In fact you're probably so shit at it that you should leave it to chance/the actor (the actor! Christ, they're the last people you should leave anything to)/director, in fact anyone else in the room as all of them can write dialogue better than you.
Apparently it is also a waste of time as it locks your idea down too much allowing clients to concentrate on the specifics and pick your dialogue apart which it is implied will get your idea thrown out altogether
Although he does make the valid point that not reading out dialogue when presenting a script helps get the idea across without the whole thing getting "all choppy and losing the flow." Which is very true if you're not one of those creatives who can't put performance into their presentation.
He also claims that writing dialogue prevents 'the magic happening' as it leaves no room for 'accidents to happen'. Well, they're not mutually exclusive.
Having wasted too many hours at script-read-throughs where a film script has been rewritten tens if not hundreds of times over a 6-12 months, period I can assure you that is far from the case. Likewise, being in a writers room where people are pulling apart and building your lovingly crafted ideas and dialogue - surround yourself with the right people and your work can only get better. But to assume they'll do the hard work for you will just get you sack (as well it should). It also brings me to his last reason as to why you shouldn't bother, it's a waste of time - WTF. I shall say nothing more on this than that's plain fucking lazy.
The truth as I see it is, done well, where it has been crafted with skill, with a ear for rhythm, region, age and an understanding of character and personality It will enhance your script, any script, perhaps especially when it's for a 30 second commercial.
End of rant.
Well almost, I just have to comment on this last quote:
By the way, none of the above applies to radio ads which need to be buttoned the fuck down before you go in. You can still have wiggle room, but very few actors/VOs like to be told to make shit up on the spot.
So there you have it, I care about my TV reel, but fuck radio, it's full of talentless fucks anyway. Which, going by the shameful state of most radio ads is a view shared by most of the industry.