How Hollywood Writing Credits Really Work

This should be required reading for every aspiring film (and to a lesser extent TV) writer. The smart ones will read this before coming to L.A.

Meet the Writer of ‘Gemini Man’ (Who Didn’t Actually Write ‘Gemini Man’)
by Borys Kit

Sitting near the back of the Chinese Theatre, in between his wife and his parents, Darren Lemke watched the big Imax screen light up, Gemini Man unfolding before his eyes.

He was at the Paramount-Skydance movie’s Sunday night premiere and had walked the red carpet not too far from star Will Smith and director Ang Lee. And why not? He had his name in the credits, right next to David Benioff, the famous co-creator of the Game of Thrones TV show, and Billy Ray, who was nominated for an Oscar for writing Captain Phillips.

But Lemke was having a vortex of emotion and in the midst of a surreal, almost out-of-body experience that was also tinged with a bittersweetness.

Because despite having his name in the credits, despite walking the red carpet, Lemke had nothing to do with the movie currently playing onscreen.

But the fact that the movie exists at all has everything to do with him. And that’s because Gemini Man is a quirky example of how no idea is truly dead in Hollywood, shows that every movie has its own road to the screen and reminds people that the 1990s spec script market was its own wild animal.

In the mid-1990s, Lemke was working at a grocery store, pushing carts and pushing 27, writing murder-mystery theater in North Jersey. A graduate of New York City’s School of Visual Arts, he had seen his classmates enthusiastically rush to Los Angeles after graduation, then slowly return like soldiers from the warfront. He stayed behind, tapping away at the keyboard on spec scripts, all action and thriller.

In a weird only-in-Hollywood confluence, only in this case it was only-in-Jersey, he went out to the movies one night, giving a script to a friend of a friend’s brother, who gave it to an assistant to a movie producer, who then gave it to said movie producer….

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