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Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! Hardcover – July 5, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439186758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439186756
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"These two guys are the reason Night at the Museum won so many Oscars"
—Ben Stiller

"These guys are proof that with no training and little education, ANYONE can make it as a screenwriter."
—Paul Rudd

“These guys probably ripped off everything in this book just like they do in all their screenplays. That would explain why it’s actually kind of good.”
—Ed Helms

“Tom and Ben are two of the writers currently working in Hollywood. I can add they make a ‘profit’ on each of their writing jobs, as I believe they have very little overhead. Therefore, they are clearly qualified to write this book. Having not read it, I can tell you that it is uproariously funny, perhaps the best book on writing ever."
—Zak Penn, Film Screenwriter & Director

"Tom and Ben's valuable insight into writing for a Volkswagen bug and creating the ‘Lawrence of Arabia of Ping Pong films’ make this book far more informative to the young dramatist than the vastly over-rated ‘Aristotle's Poetics.’"
—Jonathan Glickman, Film Producer, President of MGM, Motion Picture Group

“Ben and Tom are a great fit for me. I love working with talented writers and then telling people everything was my idea. This is a great book, that I pitched to them a while back... I'm thrilled that they finally got around to writing it.”
—Danny DeVito

“Some screenwriters have a knack for capturing the heart and soul of characters, the nuance of themes, the richness of the human experience. And some are like Tom and Ben.”
—Shawn Levy
, Film Director & Producer

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Customer Reviews

Finally, a book about screenwriting by people who actually write screenplays and get paid for doing so!
Jennifer Mohammed
I've read more than one book on screenwriting, and if you want to write screenplays so should you, and I will happily recommend this one.
elisabeth cohn
There is also a lot of useful information about how the studio system works and what to expect from the entire movie making process.
Lisa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By D. Lincoln on July 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is full of practical, professional advice on how to swim with the sharks in the very weird world of Hollywood screenwriting. In many ways it's more about the business of writing and selling movies, than it is about how to write. But I've got lots of books on writing; this is the first one that's quite like this.

Not surprisingly, since Lennon and Garant are comedy guys, it's a very funny book. It's easy to read, in a self-mocking conversational tone, and it seems like they're telling real, often embarrassing stories that actually happened to them. There are details that I've never seen in other screenwriting books, like how to tell if you've "made it," based on your studio parking spot; how to take notes from executives and movie stars; what script arbitration is, and how to win at it; and how to get fired with a gracious smile, and then get hired again.

They're also obsessed with In n Out Burger, and dedicate many pages to printing its secret menu and all the locations in Los Angeles. At first I didn't get what that had to do with movies. But whatever. It's part of their guide to living in Los Angeles, so I guess it makes sense?

"Writing Movies..." is unapologetically NOT about "art" or anything at all high-minded, so if that's what you're looking for, the writers are happy to send you elsewhere. I believe they suggest "gazing longingly out the window at the moor." They also say that if you follow their system, you'll soon think of "Oscar Season" as "Ski Season," because the kind of movies they're talking about will never win any Academy Awards anyway. Probably not a book for Documentarians, or Art House types. But if you like your popcorn movies, and if you're looking for tons of practical advice for going into the business of making them, it seems like a genuinely great book.

Also, I can't wait to try to sell some the "free movie ideas" in the back of the book. Somebody's got to do it...
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By M. Yanovich on July 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really deserves 4.5 stars, but it's a fantastic book on real-world Hollywood screenwriting.

What's in this book:

* a few completely useless sections, like "Living in Los Angeles." Pure filler.

* a few very entertaining but not really useful sections, like having lunch with Jackie Chan. Fun to read, glad they're included, don't do much heavy lifting but that's ok.

* all the rest. That is, comically written advice, tips, and tricks that will not only make you smile, but will actually give you GREAT inside information. You think the section on "where you part at a studio tells you how important you are" is a joke? It's NOT. It's how the industry actually works. Their advice on how to write, when to write, where to write: gold. How studios give notes... and how YOU as a WRITER need to RESPOND to those notes: platinum. How to work the studio system, how to deal with changing execs, how to handle arbitration for credits, how much you will really get paid, how to get from spec script to produced writer.... there is really great information all over this book.

Seriously, not for indie films, not for art house films. This is for commercial, formulaic studio films that are proud to be just that. A must-read for those who want to learn that system.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I should start by mentioning that I have no interest in writing a screenplay. I do however love The State, Viva Variety, and Reno 911!, so I was very familiar with the authors of this book. Naturally I was dying to read it. It was everything I expected and more. There was tons of humor mixed with some really useful information. My favorite section was probably the chapter on determining if you had made it in Hollywood by where the different studios sent you to park.

Through all the humor, you get a real sense of passion for writing. They don't just do this for money; they write because they feel compelled to. They go through their process of writing an outline, pitching to studios, and then writing the screenplay. There is also a lot of useful information about how the studio system works and what to expect from the entire movie making process. I also learned a lot about all the different writing and production credits and the arbitration system with the writing guild. It's all very complex and fascinating.

Clearly if you are interested in writing screenplays, there is a lot of useful information here. Even for us non-writers though, there is so much stuff to learn from this book. Naturally, it's all relayed with tons of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in movies. It is sure to entertain!

Galley provided by publisher for review.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By reader on July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is enough good stuff in here to make it worthwhile. These guys have obviously made their way in a very competitive, zero-sum world. They have lots of good advice applicable far beyond Hollywood. The general theme of customer is always right but watch your back, is fleshed out with really good practical tips to keep you working plus getting paid. Yes, there is some filler here but it is WAY outweighed by the good stuff. Get it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fred Schroeder on July 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are a lot of books on the craft and "art" of screenwriting out there but this books cuts through all the BS and gives you practical advice about how to make a living as a screenwriter.

It's also the funniest book about screenwriting ever written. Lennon and Garant are super funny guys (just check their work in front of and behind the camera in Reno 911) and their talent as comedy writers comes through loud and clear in every page of this book. So while they are basically dealing with all the technical aspects of selling screenplays the material is presented in such a fun way I found myself reading passages out loud to friends because it's so entertaining.

Finally, how many books about screenwriting are written by actual working screenwriters?! Sadly, not many. These guys have made movies you've heard of. Take their advice. They know what they are talking about! This book is a gift. I just wish it had been around five years ago.
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