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Posts Tagged ‘Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless’

This week I picked up the just published book Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless by Joseph McBride. He’s the perfect person to pull a quote from on this blog because he’s had an interesting career, which actually got a kickstart start here in the Midwest.

As a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison he first saw Citizen Kane, and then went on to watch it a total of 60 times as a student.* He spent six years working alongside Orson Welles, produced a documentary on John Ford, wrote the screenplay for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, has written and published several books on filmmakers, and now teaches at San Francisco State University where he’s been able to have top screenwriters visit his classroom.

Writer/director Peter Bogdanovivh says of Writing in Pictures, “Joe McBride’s comprehensive yet very succinct work should become a standard text.”

Now I don’t know how painless the quote I’ve pulled from McBride’s book is, but is a common thread that I have found over the four years of writing this blog:

“I didn’t sell my first screenplay until 1977, the seventh feature-length script I had written (I also had written dozens of short film scripts and filmed several of them myself). That’s one of the first lessons I will pass along to you. Don’t ever stop writing…So I had served a ten-year apprenticeship teaching myself how to write scripts before I became a professional.”
Joseph McBride 

Maybe painless, but certainly time-consuming.

* Because, as a student in the ’60s, McBride couldn’t afford to photocopy the script for Citizen Kane he hauled a manual typewriter to the reading room at the now Wisconsin Historical Society and typed an exact copy of the script. A great exercise in learning. Something McBride points out that a young David Mamet did with the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire.

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The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously) 

Scott W. Smith

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