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Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless Paperback – February 28, 2012
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--Peter Bogdanovich, screenwriter, director, film historian
“I must confess that I had never read a how-to book straight through for the sheer pleasure of it, and I never expected to—until I got my hands on the splendid Writing in Pictures. . . . A word of warning: in this book you will not find the Six Keys to Compelling Characters, the Seven Secrets of Successful Plotting, or the Eight Jungian Archetypes No Studio Executive Can Resist. There are no magic formulae here—but if you do have a story to tell, this book will give you the solid practical advice you need to tell it in the most effective way. Writing in Pictures is a short course in how to think cinematically. It will change the way you write. It will change the way you watch.”
-- Sam Hamm, screenwriter of Batman, Batman Returns, and "Homecoming"
“If this isn't the greatest screenwriting book ever, I'll eat my hat! Writing in Pictures is the kind of how-to book Ben Hecht would have written on that subject: a Socratic tour of the profession the novice aspires to, filled with screenwriting lore, for illustration and entertainment. If you want to judge someone's work by how personal it is, this may just turn out to be Joe McBride's masterpiece.”
--Bill Krohn, author of Hitchcock at Work and Hollywood correspondent, Cahiers du Cinéma
“In this unique contribution to the screenplay literature, Joe McBride invites writers to connect themselves to literary tradition, relying less on formulas and more on intelligent uses of classic storytelling technique. He blends general precepts, concrete examples, hard-won experience, and lively anecdotes into something more than the usual script manual: an invitation to participate in the great human adventure of sharing stories.”
--David Bordwell, author of Poetics of Cinema
“A real contribution to a much-abused genre. Most screenwriting “how to” books are either formulaic, craven, or both. . . .McBride’s book is something else. It’s a straightforward, considered and lucid meditation on the arts and crafts of storytelling for the screen, informed by McBride's unsurpassed knowledge of, and deep love for, the movies.”
--Howard A. Rodman, screenwriter, teacher, and vice president of Writers Guild of America West
"If it is possible for only one book to embody the ethos of screenwriting, this is the one, a guide to screenwriting that is more than a guide -- craft, history, practical advice, philosophical bedrock, wisdom, wit -- and through it all, as in the very best screenplays, the reassurance of one clarion voice."
-- Patrick McGilligan, film biographer and editor of the Backstory series of interviews with screenwriters
“McBride offers the kind of friendly but honest advice that will make him the mentor to a new generation of aspiring screenwriters. Born of long experience and exceptional insight, he distills the lessons of screenwriting history into a first-rate primer for the screenwriters of tomorrow.”
--Julian Hoxter, screenwriter and author of Write What You Don't Know: An Accessible Manual for Screenwriters
About the Author
McBride was a film critic, reporter, and columnist for Daily Variety in Hollywood for many years. His books include the acclaimed biographies Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Steven Spielberg: A Biography, and Searching for John Ford. The French edition of the Ford biography won the Best Foreign Film Book of the Year award from the French film critics' organization in 2008. McBride has also published a celebrated book of interviews with director Howard Hawks, Hawks on Hawks, and three books on Orson Welles, including What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career. That book is partly a memoir of McBride’s experience working as an actor for Welles for six years, playing a film critic in the director’s legendary unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind, for which McBride cowrote his dialogue with Welles.
McBride is an associate professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University, where he has been teaching screenwriting and film history since 2002. In 2011, he became the subject of a feature-length documentary on his life and work, Behind the Curtain: Joseph McBride on Writing Film History, written and directed by Hart Perez. McBride lives in Berkeley.
More About the Author
McBride's Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless (2012) draws from his long experience as a screenwriter and as a teacher of screenwriting. Also in 2012, McBride published an updated third edition of his 1997 book Steven Spielberg: A Biography. The American second edition of the Spielberg book was published in 2011 by the University Press of Mississippi, which also reprinted his biographies Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success (1992; 2000) and Searching for John Ford (2001). McBride's other books include: Orson Welles (1972; 1996), Hawks on Hawks (1982), The Book of Movie Lists: An Offbeat, Provocative Collection of the Best and Worst of Everything in Movies (1999), and What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career (2006). He wrote the 1974 critical study John Ford with Michael Wilmington.
McBride's screenwriting credits include the movies Rock 'n' Roll High School and Blood and Guts and five American Film Institute Life Achievement Award specials on CBS-TV dealing with Fred Astaire, Frank Capra, Lillian Gish, John Huston, and James Stewart. He also was cowriter of the United States Information Agency worldwide live TV special Let Poland Be Poland (1982). McBride plays a film critic, Mister Pister, in the legendary unfinished Orson Welles feature The Other Side of the Wind (1970-76). McBride is also the coproducer of the documentaries Obsessed with "Vertigo": New Life for Hitchcock's Masterpiece (1997) and John Ford Goes to War (2002).
McBride received the Writers Guild of America Award for cowriting The American Film Institute Salute to John Huston (1983). He has also received four other WGA nominations two Emmy nominations, and a Canadian Film Awards nomination. The French edition of Searching for John Ford, A la Recherche de John Ford, published in 2007, was chosen the Best Foreign Film Book of the Year by the French film critics' association, le Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, McBride grew up in the suburb of Wauwatosa. He attended Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, where he received a National Merit Scholarship, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and worked as a reporter for The Wisconsin State Journal in Madison before departing for California in 1973. A documentary feature on McBride's life and work, Behind the Curtain: Joseph McBride on Writing Film History, written and directed by Hart Perez, had its world debut in 2011 at the Tiburon International Film Festival in Tiburon, Marin County, CA, and was released on DVD in 2012.
Top Customer Reviews
While I enjoyed reading this book, and agree with the statement that there are very few, if any books that teach you to writer professional screenplay, I don't think this is a book for beginners, unless you've read scripts before.
As someone interested in the process of adaptation, I found this book extremely helpful. Any novelist looking to adapt their work would do well to read this book.
With great software available these days, formatting is done for you, so knowing how to tell a story is where a writer should be concentrating. That's what this book teaches, how to tell a good story.
McBride uses Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire" as his teaching tool. Taking the reader through the extensive (and VERY necessary) process of "breaking the spine" of the story, character bios, treatments and outlining, he prepares the writer for the process before typing FADE IN.
I loved the movie references throughout the book, and now have a long list of must see movies. It's obvious McBride loves film, and his extensive history as a critic gives the reader much food for thought.
The screenwriting section is followed by information on how to "break in" to the Hollywood dream.
I really enjoyed the way this book was written, as if McBride was sitting across from me, doling out nuggets of information.
As a produced screenwriter who has read many books on the subject, and the co-founder of Script Chat, I can tell you, this book was a breath of fresh air.
(Disclaimer - this book was given to me by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review)
McBride takes readers through the entire process, from the story outline, the adaptation outline, the character biography, the treatment, the step outline, and finally, the script itself. He also offers tips on how to break into professional filmmaking. There is a great deal of useful information packed into this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Granted, "Goodfellas" was not the screenwriting masterpiece that his "Rock n Roll Highschool" was or all the other scripts he has failed to sell in the last 30... Read morePublished 18 months ago by R. Lehmann
I bought this for my daughter who is in an MFA program, studying screenwriting. Hope she loves it. I received it from the seller as promised.Published 23 months ago by Cheryl Mueller
I also got Save The Cat and Location Sound Bible here on Amazon. Excellent instruction - well explained, even for the novice.Published on January 20, 2013 by Bruce Philpott