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Is Directing or Screenwriting Harder? James Gunn, Scott Derrickson, and Jordan Vogt-Roberts Debate

The directors behind blockbusters "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Doctor Strange," and "Kong: Skull Island" share some opinions on the directing vs. writing debate.

James Gunn, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Scott Derrickson

James Gunn, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Scott Derrickson


Is it harder to direct a movie or write a movie? It’s a debate as old as time in the filmmaking community and a question with no easy answers. Scott Derrickson, best known for directing and co-writing “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” recently shared on Twitter his opinion that “writing is harder than directing,” which courted rebuttals from “Kong: Skull Island” director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and “Guardians of the Galaxy” filmmaker James Gunn (via /Film).

“I appreciate the ‘humility’ but I can’t imagine a more binary statement in a field full of complexities,” Vogt-Roberts replied. The director later added: “We live in an age when people have forgotten what truly spectacular directing looks like. The original statement is an over simplification of an entirely unnecessary debate.”

Gunn weighed in by explaining that “good writers may be more rare than good directors,” but that directing is generally “more exhausting” than screenwriting. The “Guardians” helmer admitted he has a “healthier relationship” to writing than he does directing, but he said he feels most like himself when he’s behind the camera.

“What sucks about screenwriting is eventually the form belongs to someone else (the director),” Gunn said. “What sucks about directing is it can be hell on earth…I feel most truly and fully myself when directing, but I wouldn’t really say I enjoy it. I’m complicated.”

Actress Zelda Williams, whose directing credits include an episode of “Dark/Web” and the short film “JoJo: Save My Soul,” also took to Twitter to share some of her thoughts on the directing vs. screenwriting debate. Williams said she agreed with Derrickson and that screenwriting is generally tougher than directing.

“I know many great directors who’d be nowhere without great content to direct, but while Ive seen great scripts ruined, I’ve never seen shit scripts made great,” Williams said.

You can read all four directors’ thoughts on the debate in the tweets below. Sound off with your opinions in the comments section.

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