Name ten silent film stars from the year 1912 or before. Don’t Google it. I’ll wait….

Done? Having trouble? Ok, let’s make it easier:

Name any ten movies from 1912 or before. No Googling…

No luck?

Ok, let’s make this easy: Name any 10 film stars from the entire Silent era.

Those of you who never took a History Of Cinema class might have trouble remembering the names of Edison film experiments like Record Of A Sneeze (1894), the earliest surviving copyrighted motion picture. Or any of the 1,400+ short films of the French Lumiere Brothers.


The website profiles over two hundred silent film actors. The names I recognized were these:


  • MEN
  • John Barrymore
  • Lionel Barrymore
  • Charles Chaplin
  • Buster Keaton
  • Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
  • Lon Chaney
  • Rudolph Valentino
  • Clara Bow (The “It” Girl)
  • Louise Brooks
  • Mary Pickford
  • Greta Garbo
  • Joan Crawford
  • Lillian Gish
  • Jean Harlow
  • Gloria Swanson

15 names.

15 names? From the entire silent film era? How is that possible?


Cameras were rolling on the birth of movies. Think about that. Film may be the only art form to be documented in its infancy.  In 1895, audiences screamed when a train came directly at them in the Lumiere Brothers’ Arrival of a Train. 100+ years later, we have the CG of Inception and Avatar.

Makes me wonder: What will survive 100 years from now? And aside from making a living, why are people so utterly obsessed by trying to get their visions on film?


Will you be remembered 100 years from now? How will you be remembered?

I’ll go out on a limb to predict that the films of Spielberg, Scorsese, Eastwood, Kurasawa, Fellini, Wells, Coppola will be around in 2111.

Deniro, Pacino, Streep, Johnny Depp, and Daniel Day Lewis will be there when the next century rolls around.

How about Michael Bay? Think The Island will pass the 100-year test? How about Entourage and sushi-eating Jeremy Piven? Lindsay Lohan? Taylor Lautner?

You’ll notice I didn’t ask you to name ten screenwriters from the Silent era. The existence of the era’s writers has come down to us strictly in the domain of historians.

Will they remember Shane Black? Will they be able to read his Lethal Weapon script? L.A Confidential will probably be around, meaning Brian Helgeland’s name will survive. Maybe folks in 2112 will be like moviegoers today, going to films without really giving a damn who wrote it. Ask 100 people on the street today to name ten current screenwriters, how many could do it?

Ultimately, if the work lives, if the movie survives, then the writer lives on, even if no one knows or cares about his name.

So, what the hell is my point?  I bring this up only for you to consider the bigger picture:

You want your script made. You want it bad. Aside from getting paid, have you figured out why you want it so bad? You might want to examine your reasons. Is it the chase for legacy, for your name to live on in 2112?

Maybe it’s the ex-casino craps dealer in me that has to state the obvious: The true odds of being remembered 100 years from now ain’t great. Maybe we shouldn’t drive ourselves crazy with the pursuit of legacy.

Examine why is it you write in the first place. It might help to get you on your journey faster.

One Response to Survival Strategies For The Unknown Screenwriter: Legacy
  1. I write because not writing would be an even bigger pain in the ass.

    PS: Edgar Kennedy, The Keystone Cops, Harold Lloyd (I believe he’s the guy hanging from the clock up top), Ramon Navarro, Mae West, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn. Just to be a wise guy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *