The Rules of Screenwriting and Why You Should Break Them

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About the Book

A couple of generations ago, the movie industry ran on gut instinct—film schools, audience research departments and seminars on screenwriting were not yet de rigueur. Today the standard is the analytical approach, intended to demystify filmmaking and guarantee success (or at least minimize failure). The trouble with this method is that nobody knows how to do it—they just think they do—and films are made based on models of predictability rather than the merits of the script.
This insider’s look at the craft and business of screenwriting explodes some of the popular myths, demonstrating how little relevance the rules have to actual filmmaking. With long experience in film and television, the author provides insightful how-not-to analyses, with commentary by such veterans as Josh Sapan (CEO of AMC Networks), bestselling author Adriana Trigiani and Oscar–nominated screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi (Goodfellas).

About the Author(s)

Bill Mesce, Jr., is an adjunct instructor at several New Jersey universities and colleges, and an author, screenwriter, and playwright. He lives in Linden, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Bill Mesce, Jr.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6850-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2771-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
The Programmer: Dave Baldwin 11
Myth #1: The Screenwriting Guru 15
The Director: Rick King 23
The First Cut Is the Deepest: Blow Out 25
The Producer: Gerald W. Abrams 38
Myth #2: ­Three-Act Structure 39
The Author: Steve Szilagyi 51
Crash Landing: Free Flight 56
The Academic: Dr. Benjamin Dunlap 80
Myth #3: Every Scene Should Move the Plot Forward 81
The Network Executive: Josh Sapan 87
Orphans: Big Phil’s Kid and Surrender 89
The Screenwriter: Robert Conte 111
Myth #4: The First Ten Pages 113
The Triple Threat: Adriana Trigiani 122
Bottom Crawling: Take 2 and Pan Am Pictures 127
The Artistic Director: Mark Hoebee 149
Myth #5: Show, Don’t Tell 153
The Film Evaluator: Youssef Kdiry 160
Dead End: Road Ends 163
The Programmer: Andrew Goldman 181
Myth #6: Dr. ­Phil-izing Characters 188
The Screenwriter: Nicholas Pileggi 195
The Button 196
Bibliography 203
Index 207

Book Reviews & Awards

“impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well organized and presented…a ‘must-read’…very highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review.