I love how Joe (I’ll skip the Hungarian unwritable family name) talks about Mc Kee and other screenwriter gurus who have never written a screenplay in their lives. I like his humor, even if he obviously talks to male writers, as if he didn’t consider women writers at all… but whatever. He’s the screenwriter as God, so I’ll let him say what he wants. He made a lot of money and lost it all – just like Shane Black, I guess.
Age issue: I’m probably too old for this, luckily I don’t look my age! 😀 I’ll just have to hide my passport when I go to meetings, hahaha! 😉
“Artists spend all their time thinking about imaginary beauty” (Zsa Zsa Gabor) – I totally agree with this!
Oh, and I LOVE this:
“Most of what is written on how to write a screenplay is written by people who don’t know how… There aren’t that many who do know how, and those who do know how tend not to tell. For the very obvious reason: they don’t want to train their own competition. These are not unknowns, but it’s on the level of the mortuary trade – it’s passed on by word of mouth” (screenwriter Dan O’Bannon of Alien)…
I’ll update this while I read the book! 😉
One more pearl from the Eszterhas himself:
“Don’t be a screenwriter; be a writer who just happens to write for the screen. Don’t spend all of your time in dark theaters watching movies. Live. Love. Immerse yourself in the messy entanglements of the real, not reel life. Listen to human beings talk, not characters created by other screenwriters who spend all their time in dark movie theaters. (…)”
More (was before in the book, but I’m doing this at the office, so I’ve gone back for the purpose of this note – yes, I have a lot to do today):
“ Don’t live in L.A. (…) Forget everything you’ve heard about networking. It is not who you know in Hollywood. If you write a good, commercial script and start sending it out – someone will recognize that it is good and commercial. It is a town that runs on greed, filled with desperate people wo will do anything to make money. If they think your script will make them money, they will option or buy your script. You can write your script anywhere. I suggest that you write it anywhere but in L.A. You won’t be able to write real people if you stay in L.A. too long. L.A. has nothing to do with the rest of America. It is a place whose values are shaped by the movie business. It is my contention that it is not just a separate city, or even a separate state, but a separate country located within America. Real Americans live in Bainbridge Township, Ohio.”
OK, part 2 – more pearls of wisdom!
“Hollywood won’t corrupt you, but your family might. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo: I begin to realize why people believe the legend that Hollywood corrupts writers. But they’re quite wrong. All Hollywood does is give them enough money so they can get married and have kids like normal people. But it’s the getting married and having kids that really corrupts them.”
“Keep your name out of the trades. Mike Medavoy: I told my writer clients to ignore the big splash announcements in the trades about some unknown writer getting big bucks for a script, because often these guys are never heard from again.”
I LOVE this one:
“Write original screenplays, not rewrites. Director David Lean: We want someone who has written original stories. We don’t want a scriptwriter who has spent his time embroidering on other people’s ideas.”
“Don’t pitch a story; write it.. (…) Real writers sit down and write: wannabe writers sit around and talk. ”
“The greatest fun in screenwriting is not getting a lot of money… (…) the great fun in screenwriting is writing your first draft without anyone elses’s ideas cluttering or polluting it. Just you and your muse and the empty page or blank screen. Creating. Playing God.” That’s what I like about writing most – playing Goddess and creating worlds, characters and whatever…
Hedy Lamarr: “In my experience with writers, I found that those who talk less are more talented. I sat a whole evening with Otto Preminger and Tennessee Williams and Mr. Williams said just ten words.” I say – writers write, don’t talk! 😉
This is interesting: “Don’t do an outline for yourself. It will lock the characters in step too much and not give them enough room to plot the course of their own actions in the script. Give them the freedom to tell you what it is they want to do or say. Do a character sketch for yourself instead. Spend a page on each character. His/her back story, background, physical descriptions, interests, relationships, dreams, failings. do it for all the major characters. Study it for a week, reread it and think about it as much as you can, and revise it as the week goes along. At the end of the week, do a final version of it, and start writing your script. Keep your character sketches handy and reread them as you continue to write your scritp.” This really sounds like writer’s advice – and I could do that (but I usually don’t outline, just start writing, and maybe do an ID sheet of the main characters… this way sounds good, though. I’ll try it and let you know after I write the next script!).
Oh, and can you believe he writes his first draft longhand? He uses a pencil, I use a pen, but for his same reason – it puts me more in touch with my characters!
Part 3 – this is getting more fun and interesting while I read! The first person who says don’t be too meek, don’t be open to too many ideas about changing your scripts, fight the morons if they want to change what you’ve written.
“Don’t let ’em convince you to rewrite it.”
“If your scripts gets butchered, Robert McKee may have done it. McKee told a reporter in Melbourne, Australia, that he works for studios sometimes as a “story doctor”. This is a doctor whose patients (his own scripts) have all died (unproduced) except for the one patient who lived and became a television movie. First he teaches you how to write and then he kills what you’ve written.”
Part 4 – the end
The rest is mostly Hollywood gossip and warnings, which is fun and entertaining and also sort of discouraging. He even suggests to write novels instead, with the pros and cons of publishing. And ends with the story of his script, the funniest anybody in Hollywood ever read, and that nobody made.
So I guess all you have to do is keep writing, and writing, and writing – a new script a year or two, maybe (I’m a fast writer, like William Goldman, but don’t show you’re too fast or they’ll think the script sucks to matter what. But don’t be to slow either…)