' ' Cinema Romantico: Adventures in the Screen Trade

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Adventures in the Screen Trade

So I just finished reading the famed book about the movie business "Adventures in the Screen Trade" written by the famed screenwriter William Goldman (truth be told, he's more "famed" now for talking and writing about movies than actually writing movies. His last three screenplays - the last one came 6 years ago - are "Dreamcatcher", "Hearts in Atlantis" and "The General's Daughter". Uh....) and, I have to say, it's pretty fabulous.

You will end up liking Paul Newman even more than you already did and Goldman's breakdown of a specific scene in "The Great Santini" involving Robert Duvall and why it's so great and how and why it probably would have been messed up with anyone else is just amazing and really puts into perspective why are there are so many crappy scenes in Hollywood movies. The book is really, really hilarious and really, really scary. It should make someone like me stop and say, "Wait, why am I spending all this money to submit scripts to contests and ship them off to Hilary Swank's agent when I could be putting that cash away in my 401K even though I never look at my 401K anymore because it makes me want to drink an entire bottle of Dewar's in three minutes?" But, of course, I won't say any of that and instead keep ridiculous hope alive, baby!

Anyway...there was one passage in the book that I simply had to pass along to you, my faithful readers, that seems to say it all and so here it is verbatim:

Allan Burns, a writer friend, recently emerged from a creative meeting in which the studio head only had this comment to make: "The script's got to be twenty-five percent funnier."

A few weeks later the guy asked after the rewrites. Allan, who co-created 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and can be funnier than most people, replied, "Well, I'm only eighteen percent funnier so far, which means I'll have to be thirty-one percent funnier the rest of the way."

And the studio head didn't know it was a joke: What he said was, after some thought, "Sounds about right."

Ladies and gentlemen, the Hollywood screenwriting process!!!

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