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Tales from the Script

26 customer reviews

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(Apr 20, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Relentlessly entertaining." -- New York Magazine

"Full of wry one-liners, well-spun anecdotes, and pithy observations on the movie-making industry." -- Village Voice

"Tales from the Script is actually the ideal summation on the art of screenwriting: rigorously structured, filled with great stories." --

Shane Black (Lethal Weapon), John Carpenter (Halloween), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver), and dozens of other Hollywood screenwriters share penetrating insights and hilarious anecdotes in Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman's TALES FROM THE SCRIPT, the most comprehensive documentary ever made about screenwriting. By analyzing their triumphs and recalling their failures, the participants explain how successful writers develop the skills necessary for toughing out careers in one of the world's most competitive industries. They also reveal the untold stories behind some of the greatest screenplays ever written, describing their adventures with luminaries including Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Stanley Kubrick, Joel Silver, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg.

"Given the indignities to which they are subjected, screenwriters can be forgiven if they feel under-appreciated or consigned to the bottom of the Hollywood totem pole. Now, it's payback time. This entertaining companion to Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman's book of the same name gives writers the first and last word on their craft and making it (or not) in the business. "I think the public would be shocked to see how many movies that end up horrific started out as pretty good screenplays or at least screenplays you can see why the studio made this movie," says Mark D. Rosenthal, who wrote the unfortunate Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. The impressive roster of scribes includes Shane Black (Lethal Weapon), Larry Cohen (It's Alive), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), Naomi Foner (Running on Empty), William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), and Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver). The shared wisdom and Us vs. Them war stories ("them" being directors, development executives, studio heads, and actors) provide a revelatory look at the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (and misfortune) that even the most successful writers suffer. The stories range from the good (on September 3, 2006, Justin Zacham got married and the next morning flew to L.A. to go to Jack Nicholson's house to work on his script for The Bucket List with Jack, Morgan Freeman, and Rob Reiner), the bad (Michael January laments that the movies he writes go direct to video or cable), and the ugly (Genevieve Turner laughs that the notorious hack Uwe Boll's film of her script for Bloodrayne "blows"). Save for illustrative film clips from such movies as Get Shorty, The Last Tycoon, and Barton Fink that introduce each section of the documentary, Tales from the Script is all talking heads, but these heads make their living telling stories, so it seldom flags. A writer writes, so perhaps not even Stephen Susco's reality check--that of the 38 scripts he's written only three have been produced--is likely to deter anyone determined to enter the profession. As one writer states, "It's a hard way to make an easy living." --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

More Tales from the Script (47 min.): Fascinating unheard stories from top screenwriters.
The Gospel According to Bill (12 min.): The wit and wisdom of author/screenwriter William Goldman.
Advice for New Screenwriters (9 min.): Priceless tips and inspiration for beginners.

Product Details

  • Actors: Shane Black, John Carpenter, Frank Darabont, William Goldman
  • Directors: Peter Hanson
  • Writers: Paul Robert Herman
  • Producers: Paul Robert Herman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00329PYH0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,910 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tales from the Script" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By xxxxx on August 8, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Tales from the Script" provides an interesting inside-out view of the world of screenwriting. In this minimalist documentary, Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman have uncovered some amazing gems of wisdom from the best screenwriters in the industry. The movie version breathes additional life into the material that is covered by the book version. Many of the interviews that Hanson and Herman gathered are quite funny. It's fascinating to hear the writers describe the bizarre stories of how their work found its way to the big screen. There are a bunch of unbelievable true stories here that you won't find anywhere else.

"Tales from the Script" is a must-see for anyone that aspires to be a screenwriter!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By RR on July 25, 2010
Format: DVD
This movie version of Tales from the Script by Peter Hanson and Paul Herman was very entertaining. I really liked the book, but I wasn't sure how a movie of interviews would be. I was pleasantly surprised! Thanks to the excellent job they did editing the interviews together, the movie flowed really well. I enjoyed seeing the screenwriters who have written some of my favorite movies. It was also really interesting to see the writers describe the process of making a movie. I recommend this movie to film geeks, writers, or anyone interested in film making.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Terry Field on April 24, 2010
Format: DVD
I caught "Tales from the Script" in the theaters and I'm here to purchase it on DVD as a must have for my library. Whether you are an aspiring or working screenwriter, someone involved in any aspect of the filmmaking business or a film enthusiast who loves to pull the curtains aside and see the inner workings of the business, this DVD is highly recommended.

It seems a bit self-referential to say this documentary is sharply written but, when the subjects themselves are such talented writers who seem willing to tell their stories with honesty and panache, the results sparkle. I found this documentary to be both insightful and very entertaining.

I really enjoyed this film in the theaters and I can't wait for my copy to arrive on DVD so I can share a few viewings with friends.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 29, 2012
Format: DVD
This documentary contains talking-head style interviews with a lot of screenwriters (such as Frank Darabont, Shane Black, John Carpenter, as well as several others). Some of them are well-known, some are not so well-known, and part of the point of the film is that while writers are essential to the film business, they don't usually get much credit so they aren't usually known, and they don't have a lot of influence as soon as they've turned in their final draft. Their job is to create story and structure, which provides a blueprint which may be adapted and revised significantly during the production process. There's a lot of useful insights here, and I think that some of the most useful bits for prospective writers was the advice for dealing with and understanding the kind of feedback they would get from producers and executives. Sometimes, for example, the feedback in a pitch meeting can have very little to do with the script itself and everything to do with the dynamics of the other people in the room, who are trying to prove things to each other. Sometimes the feedback is wrongheaded and ridiculous but the writer needs to take it and maybe see that there are other ways to address the concerns than by making the proposed revisions -- if an intimate scene bores a reader, for example, and they suggest more action to spice it up, maybe the real answer is to figure out how to get readers to care enough about the characters before that point so that they will want that intimate scene. The overall message seems to be that there are no guarantees and that most aspiring Hollywood writers will fail and that all of them will write a lot of things that get ignored or otherwise unproduced.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 12, 2010
Format: DVD
Tales from the Script is an extraordinary documentary about the art, craft, and business of screenwriting, particularly for Hollywood movies. Consisting of the firsthand testimonies from a wealth of minds behind big-budget screenplays - some beloved classics, some icons of pop culture, and some horrendous bombs or flops (the author of the "Bloodrayne" screenplay would like it noted that roughly 20% of her original work survived what Uwe Boll did to it). These men and women recall what it was like trying to break into the business, trying to make enough money to survive while writing professionally, working with directors and actors, honing one's craft, and more. The special features include a twelve-minute segment featuring the wisdom of author/screenwriter William Goldman, and a nine-minute section expressly consisting of advice for novice screenwriters. A candid, forthright, no-nonsense collection, Tales from the Script is an absolute "must-see" for anyone interested in breaking into (or trying to advance their position within) the screenplay business. 105 minutes.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Druxman on March 26, 2010
Format: DVD
TALES FROM THE SCRIPT should be required viewing for anybody who even thinks that they might want to write and sell a screenplay.

Frankly, had director Peter Hanson's superb, sobering documentary been around forty-five years ago when I first began my assault on Hollywood, I might have had second thoughts and chosen another path in life.


I was young and foolish back then. Nothing was going to stop me from scaling the "brick wall" that the folks in this film talk about. All you needed was talent and a hard head to protect you from an infinity of rejections.

[Actually, I didn't really scale the wall, but I did find a way to sneak around it.]

Hanson's film is, for the most part, a series of "talking heads," but those heads belong to some of the most knowledgeable and successful screenwriters in the motion picture industry, including William Goldman, Shane Black, John Carpenter, Frank Darabont, Bruce Joel Rubin, Paul Schrader, Ron Shelton and many more.

The writers discuss their successes and failures, how they broke into the business, the problems dealing with studios, directors and stars, and how they cope with their carefully-crafted work being re-written by others.

The writer lives a very tenuous life in Hollywood, and once their script is finished, even the most successful and revered must accept the fact that they are expendable.

TALES FROM THE SCRIPT was based on an idea by Paul Robert Herman. It is, without doubt, the best film ever made about screenwriting.

The DVD from First Run Features contains another hour of equally fascinating bonus features; advice and wisdom from these professional screenwriters.
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