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Drama Movies

May 15 2016 Drama Movies Newsletter

"When you look at someone else's films and say, "I can do that," you're in a lot of competition--because everyone else is looking at that hit of the year and they're saying, "I can do that," too. You're gonna be up against all of them, and a lot of them are probably better positioned, and probably even better writers, than you are. So that's kind of rough competition to walk into. But if you look into yourself and say, "What do I have that no one else has, but other people can understand and identify with," then you're only in competition with yourself." Writer/Director Paul Schrader in "Tales from the Script"

Paul Schrader, writer of "Taxi Driver", "American Gigolo", and "Light Sleeper", is one of the fifty screenwriters interviewed by Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman for their book (and companion film) "Tales from the Script". The book does not explain how to write a screenplay, but rather how to enter the business of screenwriting and navigate the hazards involved. Hanson and Herman also include interviews with an agent, a development executive and a contest administrator. Nearly every aspect of writing and developing a movie is discussed. I found the book to be entertaining and informative.

I've also read Syd Field's book, "Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting". Field explains the structure of a screenplay and the correct form. His step-by-step instructions promise that you will have a completed first draft in forty working days. I have not attempted a screenplay yet, but his method seems extremely practical.

Also on my bookshelf is Marc Norman's "What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting", published in 2008. Norman won an Academy Award for co-writing "Shakespeare in Love". His bias against female screenwriters is evident from the book's opening chapter, however. Women flourished in the silent era, writing about fifty percent of the films produced until 1925. Norman's comment on this is "Few of their films are remembered and most of their work was mediocre"! His attitude towards Frances Marion, one of the most successful screenwriters of any era, is laughable. Norman gives the impression she could not adapt to sound films. In reality, she was the first screenwriter to win two Academy Awards in the 1930s.

The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing and so is the wheeling and dealing. One of the most interesting projects, which just secured financing from STX, is Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman". Scorsese is trying to cast Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in the film, which is a period drama about a mob hitman. It would be the first time that Pacino has appeared in a Scorsese film.

Here's the latest article from the Drama Movies site at BellaOnline.com.

Tales from the Script - Book and Movie Review
The writers of films as disparate as "Taxi Driver", "Ray", "Sleepless in Seattle", "Alien", and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" explain how they achieved success in Hollywood and offer practical advice to aspiring screenwriters.


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Angela K. Peterson, Drama Movies Editor

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