I try to make my screenplays as readable an experience as I can, for a good reason and greedy reason— I want the executives, who read them and who have the power to greenlight a flick, to say ‘Hey, I can make money out of this.’

Obvious truism: we all want the movies we write to get made. And that’s only going to happen if someone likes the script. Execuatives read a guh-zillion scripts a weekend. It would be idiotic for me to not have him try and enjoy the ride.”
Screenwriter William Goldman (The Princess Bride)
Four Screenplays with Essays (first published in 1997)

Here are some of the first lines of dialogue in the screenplay and movie Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid:

BUTCH: What was the matter with that old bank this town used to have? It was beautiful?

GUARD: People kept robbing it.

BUTCH: That’s a small price to pay for beauty.

One of the great true [Butch] Cassidy stories was when he was young and in jail in Wyoming, I think it was, and he came up for parole and the Governor met with him and said, ‘I’ll parole you if you promise to go straight.’ And Butch thoght a moment and then said this: ‘I can’t do that.’ In the stunned silence he went on: ‘But I’ll make a deal with you—if you let me out, I promise to never work in Wyoming again.’

And the Governor took the deal, and Butch never robbed in Wyoming again.

Even today, that’s probably the best character intorduction I ever came across. When I was researching material, reading whatever I could find all those years, I knew this was how we would meet Butch. And that kind of building block is essential when you’re stumbling through material, trying to get a grip on the best way for you to tell this particular story. The entire Superposse chase, almost half an hour of screen time, was only writable for me because I knew the Sundance Kid couldn’t swim, something I’d read was true of a lot of western figures of that period. I don’t know how it is for others, but building up confidence is the single hardest battle I face every day of life.”
William Goldman, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
Four Screenplays with Essays 

page 3

Scott W. Smith


Writer Jack Kerouac died in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1969. On Monday I drove by the last house he lived and took a photo. Neither the photo or the house or anything special, but it was something that I felt compelled to do after receiving my master’s degree from USF, St. Petersburg the day before. (I was drawn to Kerouac’s writing when I was 20-something because he was the first writer that I knew that had a football background.)


The Last House Jack Kerouac Lived In

There are a lot of homes and hotels in St. Petersburg that are special because they reflect that fine era of the 1920s & 30s.


Private Residence


The Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg


The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach

St. Petersburg is also special to me because it’s where my father’s remains are buried in Bay Pine Cemetery, so I made a stop there on Monday as well.


Bay Pines National Cemetery

The nice thing about being in St. Petersburg in December is you get to experience a taste of Christmas St. Petersburg style.


St. Pete Santa


Nothing Quite Says Christmas Like a Rhino with a Wreath

In Tampa, the Oxford Exchange is also decorated for the holidays…


Oxford Exchange in Tampa

…and it’s where I picked up my first pair of Warby Parker glasses. Look for them in the video I hope to begin releasing in early 2019.


Demo Pair of the Sullivan Frames in Saltwater Matte

Of course, the tie-in here is the Warby Parker name is pulled from some names that Jack Kerouac wrote. Overall I had a whirlwind weekend in the Tampa Bay area to finish two years of chipping away on my M.A.


Go Bulls! (Fall Graduation 2018)

P.S. Post-Thanksgiving I was pushing to finish a final project and final paper so my blog posts were sporadic—but starting tomorrow I’ll get back on the bull and finish the year strong with some help from the late William Goldman.

Scott W. Smith


This photo’s from yesterday’s graduation at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, Florida. Two years ago I began the process of pursuing an M.A. in Digital Journalism and Design. It gave me a chance to not only work on my book based on this blog but begin producing some short teaching videos on a broad range of topics related to content creating—more on that in 2019.

After seeing some college professor positions looking for a person with significant production experience and a master’s degree, I thought it was time to fill in the M.A. section on my resume. We’ll see where it all leads.

P.S. Most of my fellow students weren’t even born yet when I earned my undergraduate degree in film—so let that encourage those of you contemplating going back to school later in life. ( The oldest person graduating yesterday at USF, St. Petersburg was a woman who earned her B.A. at  68-years-old.)

ScottW. Smith 


It’s funny, [my quote] ‘nobody knows anything’ has caught on—and what I meant by it was nobody has the least idea what will work. I mean, the big movie that’s opening this weekend is Sex in the City 2—the first one was a freak hit and people loved it, and now they’ve done the sequel. (And sequels are whore’s movies, the only reason to do sequels is to make money.) And nobody has the least idea if it’s going to be a phenomenal  success or if it’s going to tank.”
William Goldman
Writers Guild Foundation interview from 2010

“Let me tell you the super story that Cliff Robertson told me a dozen years ago, and I think I’m giving the credit properly. It was a story he had been told by Rosalind Russell. I think he met her during the filming of Picnic. She said, ‘Do you know what makes a good movie?’ And he answered something like, ‘I don’t know—good script, good actors, good cameraman, and good directors, etc., etc.’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘ A couple of moments that people remember, that they can take with them, is what makes a good movie.’”
William Goldman (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride)
The Craft of the Screenwriter
Interview with John Brady
page 149

Note: I originally posted this quote in 2009 under the title Screenwriting Quote of the Day #118.

Scott W. Smith

“When I started [my film career] there weren’t film schools. I never saw in my life— not even for a second—I never saw a screenplay until I was 33-years-old. And a lot of kids [today] are finished with their careers when they’re 33, because they’ve been to film school, they got their first movie done when they were 23 or 25, and now that they’re 33 they’re directors or whatever else. When I first hear of film schools I thought it was the stupidest f—— idea I’d ever heard of.  Why would anybody—because we fell in love with movies going to the LCN theater in my little town in Illinois. You went to the movies and they were wonderful. And now movies are important, which they never were when I was a kid.”
2-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman (All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid)
Writers Guild Foundation 2010 Interview 

Scott W. Smith


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