Basics Film-Making 02: Screenwriting, by Robert Edgar-Hunt, John Marland, and James Richards
As someone who likes reading and writing dramatic material , this book was appealing to me from the point of view of someone who has a practical interest in developing skills in something I have been doing for my own amusement for quite a while. That said, this is the sort of book that would be of interest to anyone who not only likes writing screenplays but is the sort of cinephile that likes to seek out information about the process by which films are made. This book was sufficiently enjoyable that I will look out the rest of the series, and see what other books I can find about areas where I have a less serious interest, like editing and cinematography, but where the approach taken by the authors here would be worthwhile in presenting the subject. That is not something I say lightly, for although I probably read more books in a week than many people read in a year, and more in a year than most people have read in their lifetimes (and that is not bragging, just being honest), neither do I go around giving myself more reading to do unless I believe the hours will be spent enjoyably, and in this case I can safely say that I have good reason to think that the case.
The contents of the book focus on scriptwriting through the repeated use of a script for a proposed short film about a man who has a disastrous day where he is simply looking for a great cup of hot tea and *everything* conspires against him. As someone whose love of sweet iced tea is fairly strong, this is a plot I could definitely identify with, and as the protagonist, being somewhat restrained and a bit clumsy and awkward, is someone I could relate to, it made everything else about the book far easier to relate to. In terms of the structure of the book, the authors begin by giving a readers’ guide as well as an introduction, before covering chapters that answer the question about what a screenplay is, talk about the concept/treatment/pitch, give instructions on what one should focus on in a first draft, a second draft, the editing of the script after that, and then give a look at unscripted comments on noted screenwriters on their own works. The book is filled with photos and terms (which are helpfully explained in the glossary that comes after the book’s conclusion), all of which make this book an enjoyable and pleasant read for those who love films and seeing how they work when they work well.
What this book does, and what I would expect the other books of this series to do, is to provide the legitimacy of the aspect spoken of within the context of making movies. Those of us who like movies and are willing to spend time and money watching them generally have an appreciation for those who care about making good movies. The same is true when it comes to music or books or any other cultural artifact–it is good when people focus on making the best art possible. Since plays start with the script, and since those of us who write generally do so in a solitary fashion, with only ourselves and our computers as we visualize what others will (if we are fortunate) put into a vision that others can see and enjoy, it is worthwhile to celebrate writing and how one can do it well. It’s a lot harder than it looks, or else everyone will do it, but it is something worth doing and worth doing well, just like it is worth reading books that are both enjoyable and practical, like this one. The writers have done a good job here in making a worthwhile subject easy to appreciate and relate to.
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