Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for MOVIES: Adventure in the Screen Trade



 
 For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write. Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.  
 
M is for Movies: Adventure in the Screen Trade 
In 2007, I purchased the SparkNotes guide for Film Classics. The book lists 16 movies and 4 trilogies. Several of the movies were in my DVD collection, but I leaned on Amazon.com to fill in the gaps. 
The information listed for each movie includes a plot overview, character list, analysis of major character roles, and ends with themes, motifs, and symbols. After reading these details, I would view the movie. When a movie is just plain fun to watch, it is easy to envy the screenwriters. They obviously own the rights to The Fun in Writing. 
Can you imagine the discussions over dialogue for Rhett Butler's character? Who to cast in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest one year after the success of Chinatown? Or, how to make a man in an oversized sleep apnea mask appear scary . . . in three movies? 
 
 
The Birth of a Nation 1915; Gone With The Wind 1939; Citizen Kane 1941; Casablanca 1943; On The Waterfront 1954;
Vertigo 1958; Sleeping Beauty 1959; 8 1/2 1961; A Clockwork Orange 1971; The Godfather Trilogy 1972, 1974, 1990;
Chinatown 1974; One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest 1975; Taxi Driver 1976; Annie Hall 1977;
Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI 1977, 1980, 1983; Apocalypse Now 1979; Schindler's List 1993;
The Matrix Trilogy 1999, 2003, 2003; The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy 2001, 2002, 2003; Spirited Away 2002.
 
*****     *****     ***** 
For my Read-and-Review-71-Books goal, I am including here my review of Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman. For the A to Z Challenge, you are welcome to scroll down to the last two sentences for some fun advice from this author! He definitely mined The Fun in Writing.
  
William Goldman’s
Adventures in the Screen Trade
(A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting) 
 
This is a book club selection for my local readers’ group. We meet at Coffee Talk in Kaimuki once a month. With the book discussion complete, we socialize and discuss the writing end of reading. As Stephen King so strongly advocates, reading and writing to hand in hand. His advice gives me the freedom to read for several hours throughout the day. It also has me well on my way to reaching my goal of reading 71 books between October, 2015 and October, 2016.
 
My interest in movies lies more with the viewing process than in screenwriting. The copyright of this book is 1983. It would have pleased me to have the narrative magically continue through the 90’s and into the present.
 
William Goldman had written as many novels as screenplays by the time he published Adventures in the Screen Trade, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, and The Princess Bride. He mentions receiving $5K and $2.5K for his first and second novels; $80K for his second screenplay which became a Hollywood film, Harper. As a writer, he voiced his reaction to his first limo ride: “What . . . am I doing back here – I’m not Jackie Kennedy —”
 
This book offers advice that applies to screenwriters but is equally beneficial to writers of books: On opening scenes-a story is a series of surprises. But for a surprise to be valid, we must first set the ground rules, indicate expectations.
 
About speed writing, the author suggests writing at top speed of your daily set goal because the energy translates itself to the page, and from there to the reader. To me, as a participant in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), his advice validates my mode of writing, getting the words on paper before they slip away.
 
About research, Goldman recommends doing the research upfront (could be ten years’ worth or the sum of your life.) Have everything clear in your head and be comfortable with the story you’re telling.
 
One piece of advice I fell in love with: What does the scene convey? If all that’s going on in your scene is what’s going on in your scene, rewrite it!
 
His best advice: “. . . may you ignore the critics when they attack you, and pay no attention to their praise. . . ”

 

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