Friday, July 5, 2013

My Most Valued Film Book...

For this week's assignment, we're to write about our most valued film book. I thought that would be a snap, since no matter how many books there are on creative writing, the subject boils down to learning the "The Art of Dramatic Writing," (note the word dramatic) which happens to be the title of Lajos Egri's seminal book written in 1946. I have read this book every year for the last 15 years and thought it would be my go-to book for this assignment.

However, as I scan my books on the craft of writing -- shockingly only 50 -- I see Syd Field's The Screenwriter's Workbook, which I found immensely helpful in cracking how to structure and write the dreaded second act. And there, right next to it sits The Film Director's Intuition. Drawn by the word intuition, I flip through the pages to discover that it's heavily dogeared. I immediately want to read this again! This book is dense with fabulous information, inspiring quotes from famous actors and directors, and real script analyses. For my fellow students, here's a link; I highly recommend this book!

On the subject of writing for television (since that's what I intend to learn), I am reading Creative TV Writing by writer/director/producer Tony Bicat. I was thrilled to read in the introduction that, although everyone wants "a hit," nobody knows what is going to be a hit, least of all the producers. Bicat goes on to say that, "the format for this mysterious 'hit' changes." I'm further encouraged by his approach to developing said 'hit', i.e. coolly analyse the shows you admire to see how they are written and constructed in order to establish certain principles of episodic storytelling; with the additional suggestion of writing key scenes from the first and fifth episode to understand the process of episodic drama. That he suggests the fifth episode is interesting... something to consider when I comes to plotting (and filming?) my own series.

I would be highly amiss if I did not mention The Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint. I found this book invaluable when I was producing my feature film, which you can read about here. Reading this book is tantamount to attending film school! Here's a link to the "all-new" American edition.


Jones, C. (2003) The Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint. London: Continunuum
Bicat, T. (2007) Creative TV Writing. Ramsbury: Crowood
Weston, J. (2003) The Film Director's Intuition. Studio City: McNaughton & Gunn, Inc.
Field, S. (1984) The Screenwriter's Workbook. New York: Dell Publishing
Egri, L. (1946) The Art of Dramatic Writing. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Telford, K. (1961) Aristotle's Poetics. Chicago: Gateway


  1. These are great! I will check some of these out.

  2. Egri's greatest contribution is, in my view, that he settled the endless argument amongst screenwriters on the prevalence of character and plot, (unbeknownst to him, as he clearly favours character in the above book; and about 30 years before the argument began) when he wrote: "“We think that no character can reveal himself without conflict - and no conflict matters without character.”

    The Art of Dramatic Writing is indeed the book that I have seen many working directors and screenwriters referring to, way above McKee, Field and Grove (Sorry, Elliot, your time will come, Egri finds real appreciation 60 years after publication)