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Good examples of screenwriting

lemmywinks

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Hello SF,

Seems like between all of us, there is a fair amount of knowledge. I'm taking a screenwriting course over the Summer, and I'd like to know what some good examples of films that show great examples of screenwriting.

And if any of you guys have ever done screenwriting, what are some pointers to someone who may consider it as a career?
 

AR_Six

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Not about to proclaim myself any sort of expert, but I don't know that there is a formula for "good screenwriting", nor for any medium. For example, some screenwriters are successful and provide meticulous detail to the point where they're almost directing via the script, others paint broad strokes and provide very little beyond dialogue and a sense of the atmosphere, leaving more room for interpretation, and neither of those can be really considered categorically superior to my mind. As with much else, I think you probably need to start developing a M.O. and find out what works for you and then seek advice in terms of fine-tuning, rather than try to have others essentially build your writing style for you through suggestions.

My admittedly underinformed perspective, feel free to observe or disregard.
 

Gradstudent78

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Originally Posted by lemmywinks
Hello SF,

Seems like between all of us, there is a fair amount of knowledge. I'm taking a screenwriting course over the Summer, and I'd like to know what some good examples of films that show great examples of screenwriting.

And if any of you guys have ever done screenwriting, what are some pointers to someone who may consider it as a career?


Try listening to the creative screenwriting magazine podcast. Lots of great interviews and information about the methods of various successful screenwriters.
 

willpower

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And another great one - "Save the Cat!" by Blake Snyder . Beautifully organized and fun to read.
 

Acephale

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Originally Posted by lemmywinks
...and I'd like to know what some good examples of films that show great examples of screenwriting.
Off the top of my head McKee cites Casablanca, Kramer versus Kramer and Chinatown. Also read scripts from drews http://www.script-o-rama.com/
 

Pantisocrat

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I'm not an expert on the subject but I was a film student, well, for a passing moment. I can't comment on the methods but these are the results of screenwriting genius:

1. Citizen Kane
2. Forest Gump
3. On the waterfront
4. Scent of a woman
5. The Graduate
6. Shawshank Redemption
7. Some Like It Hot
8. Dead Poets Society
9. The World at War Series
10.Gone with the wind
 

holymadness

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McKee is great if you enjoy formulaic, clichÃ
d motifs and themes that recur in 95% of other movies. He also doesn't teach anyone how to be a good writer, but rather how to build a story out of stock elements. Those are very different things. For instance, Forrest Gump and Benjamin Button have essentially the same story; unsurprising given that the unimaginative Eric Roth wrote them both. But the former is far stronger than the latter, largely because Winston Groom's source material was much stronger than F. Scott Fitzgerald's largely unrelated short story.

Charlie Kaufman openly mocked McKee in the refreshingly creative Adaptation (though to my mind, also paid him a weird sort of homage). The point being that cookie-cutter recipes for good screenplays such as McKee offers are generally bunk.
 

holymadness

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Originally Posted by Pantisocrat
I'm not an expert on the subject but I was a film student, well, for a passing moment. I can't comment on the methods but these are the results of screenwriting genius:

1. Citizen Kane
2. Forest Gump
3. On the waterfront
4. Scent of a woman
5. The Graduate
6. Shawshank Redemption
7. Some Like It Hot
8. Dead Poets Society
9. The World at War Series
10.Gone with the wind

 

suited

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Read screenplays that have sold and gone into production. Furthermore, read ones that have won awards. What makes a good script is a combination of a great story, and the author's exceptional ability to put that story onto paper in a way that is unexplainable and unique. If you could pinpoint it, everyone would be a great writer. Read movies you haven't seen, it gives you a totally different perspective than reading a movie you've already seen-obviously. Although it's probably going to be hard to read the screenplay to a great movie that you have yet to see (assuming you see a lot of films), I'm sure some are out there. For instance, I read Good Will Hunting before I saw the movie, and it was no surprise the movie did so well. It was really exceptional and almost impossible to put down after reading the first few pages.
Originally Posted by lemmywinks
Hello SF, Seems like between all of us, there is a fair amount of knowledge. I'm taking a screenwriting course over the Summer, and I'd like to know what some good examples of films that show great examples of screenwriting. And if any of you guys have ever done screenwriting, what are some pointers to someone who may consider it as a career?
As far as doing it as a career, I'm sure you already know the deal if you're interested enough to take a class. I have some family that is in the business, and I'm also an aspiring writer. If you like PM me and I'll be glad to give you the same tips I got from someone that has been in the business for 30 years.
 

Acephale

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Originally Posted by holymadness
McKee is great if you enjoy formulaic, clichÃ
d motifs and themes that recur in 95% of other movies. He also doesn't teach anyone how to be a good writer, but rather how to build a story out of stock elements. . . The point being that cookie-cutter recipes for good screenplays such as McKee offers are generally bunk.


However it may help to know the basic structure/themes and formula that McKee offers in order to avoid or at least recognize the cliches. And so that when the OP watches most movies he can anticipate what will happen and in effect break down the craft.

Agree that Charlie Kaufman is a good read. Sophia Coppola's 'script' for Lost In Translation however...
 

Frodo

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All the President's Men is an awesome screenplay. I write a fair amount for amusement and I constantly refer to it in my mind for the way the screenwriter/s use language to define character and to speed up and slow down the plot and pacing like an accelerator. Just listen to the movie some time - without watching the screen.
 

lefty

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The writer of ATPM was William Goldman. Read his book as well: Adventures in the Screen Trade

"Nobody knows anything," William Goldman originally wrote in Adventures in the Screen Trade. "Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess."

Case in point: every studio turned down "Raiders of the Lost Ark." "Why did Paramount say yes?" writes Goldman. "Because nobody knows anything. And why did all the other studios say no? Because nobody knows anything . . . [N]obody, nobody - not now, not ever - knows the least goddamn thing about what is or isn't going to work at the box office."
lefty
 

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