Clear Information to Help Writers Understand the Entertainment Industry
Thursday, February 5, 2009
STUDY THE MASTERS AND YOUR CONTEMPORARIES
If you wanted to be a painter, before attempting to have a career of your own you’d study the masters; Rembrandt, Monet, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Dali, Van Gough, Picasso and some of your contemporaries like Warhol and Buffet etc.
If you wanted to be a musician you might go to Juilliard and study Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Vivaldi along with Muddy Waters, Clapton, The Who, The Clash and Daft Punk.
So it always amazes me when I talk to a young screenwriter and ask “have you read any Shane Black?” and I get the answer “No.”
Are you kidding me?
Now if you're one of the aspiring screenwriters that answered “no”, don’t take this personally as you're in great company. But unfortunately it’s a great company of unsold screenwriters.
Do yourselves a giant favor and read the masters AND your contemporaries. The masters show you the basics and classic style. Your contemporaries show you how those same basics are being adapted into screenplays audiences are enjoying today.
It’s sort of like here’s Henry Ford’s original V8 engine (a work of art and genius), and here’s Chevy’s first small block V8 (a work of art and genius), and here is the V8 in the new BMW 7 series (a work of art and genius).
Here’s a list of screenwriters I’d recommend you read. It is in no way everything you should read, but it’s a start.
Shane Black The Wachowski’s William Goldman Oliver Stone Ganz & Mandell John Hughes Lawerence Kasdan Cameron Crowe Charlie Kaufman David Mamet Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio Billy Wilder