‘You sell a screenplay like you sell a car. If someone drives it off a cliff, that’s it.’ –Rita Mae Brown
The Screenplay Workbook by Jeremy Robinson and Tom Mungovan provides a well thought out approach to prepare the screenwriter in the pre-production part of writing a screenplay. The worksheets were derived from their own screenwriting endeavours. The writers understand and convey that the undertaking can be a difficult one:
‘For many screenwriters, the day they decide to write their first screenplay often goes something like this: while watching a movie they think to themselves, ‘I could do this! Heck, I could do better than this! I haven’t written since high school, but if this film got made, my film surely would be! And then I’d be rich, rich, rich,’ at which point they push their fingers together in a Montgomery Burns fashion and friendly whisper, ‘Excellent.’
The next few steps in the budding screenwriter’s development are the systematic and brutal tearing down of their misconceptions. Not only is writing a screenplay difficult-with its rigid format, page count requirements, visual writing style and realistic dialogue- screenwriting demands preparation.’
Robinson and Mungovan aid the writer in the predatory work of the script, such as planning and fine tuning, prior to facing the blank screen or page. Worksheets form the core of the book, which are divided in ways that intend to aid the screenwriter in developing the concepts and elements of the screenplay before a writer starts the scripting phase. The set out of the worksheets helps to clear, file and organise various particularities of the screenplay. There is a focus on character development, character relationships, plot structure, plot points, scenes, emotional points and plot charts.
Each worksheet section starts with a brief introduction as to the purpose of the worksheet and provides explanations in a succinct and concise manner.
‘There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers.’ H.L. Mencken
The Screenplay Workbook’s main interest is in fleshing out the idea, in handling where does the screenwriter start. In providing a pre-script analysis, the authors aid the screenwriter with the process in a practical, no fuss style. The straight forward and direct approach of the book allows the screenwriter to form the screenplay elements unhindered by clutter.
Screenwriting is an elusive craft, and a popular one. The proliferation of agents, businesses and schools that aim to sell your screenplay, re-package or teach you the craft and business of screenwriting are numerous. A simple search on the internet reveals this fact. Some screenplays sell, but many do not. Well known screenwriters appear at times to be as perplexed and confused about the entire process of writing, selling and the making of their work into motion pictures.
‘I don’t dress until 5pm. I have a bathrobe that can stand…Yes, I am divorced. One writes because one literally couldn’t get another job nor has no choice.’
Some screenwriters have reported, facing various hardships, from odd hours, to difficulties selling their work, loneliness, the impact on marriages, family and children. Making the process of writing appear more like a form of torture. Starvation, poverty, illness, loss of relationships, are some of the things to look forward to. The Screenplay Workbook does not allude to this, but is practical enough to assuage that screenplay writing can be a tough and daunting craft.
The Screenplay Workbook is aimed at all, students, novice and professional but the new screenwriter will find this workbook particularly helpful with definitions and tools of screenwriting and screenplays explained. The provision of worksheets allows for approximately five screenplays to be created.
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