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CUT TO THE CHASE by Linda Venis


Writing Feature Films with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers' Program

edited by Linda Venis

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59240-810-8
Publisher: Gotham Books

A well-organized soup-to-nuts manual for aspiring Nora Ephrons and Charlie Kaufmans, from the faculty of a notable screenwriting program.

UCLA Extension Writers’ Program director Venis divides the book into four sections devoted to: preparations for writing the script, writing the first draft, rewriting and polishing, and working the system to get the script produced and your screenwriting career on track. A group of professionals—screenwriters, story analyst and readers—share advice; their film credits include ScreamCitizen RuthPirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black PearlTwilightEvent HorizonI Know What You Did Last Summer, and scores of other projects for major Hollywood studios and TV networks. Encouraging without being unrealistic, the contributors use examples from dozens of award-winning and popular screenplays (The King’s Speech, JunoReservoir DogsBridesmaidsThe Hangover, etc.) to illustrate their points about how to set scenes, develop characters and propel stories through all of the scenes. Their advice to give script buyers—“The same, but different”; i.e., more of what’s selling tickets already, with a twist—may seem stifling to creative types, but it’s based on intimate knowledge of Hollywood tastes. Even if the fledgling screenwriter does not want to follow the UCLA team’s amazingly harmonious advice to the letter, there’s plenty of solid wisdom in the book to warrant giving it a careful read. The contributors insist that you can write a successful screenplay, and it’s hard not to believe them. After following the practical advice included in the book, you will not want to miss Deborah Dean Davis’ deliciously witty and inspiring final chapter on the life of a Hollywood writer.

A readable writer’s how-to that goes down smoothly.