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Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless (Vintage Original) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Original
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Original edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307742926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307742926
  • ASIN: 030774292X
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #833,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Impressively readable, unpretentious, and remarkably useful. Based on a lifetime of experience and observation, as well as conversations with some of the greats (like Orson Welles, John Ford & Howard Hawks), Joe McBride's comprehensive yet very succinct work should become a standard text.”
--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

Joseph McBride is an internationally renowned film historian and biographer and a veteran film and television writer whose decades of experience have brought him a Writers Guild of America Award, four other WGA nominations, two Emmy Award nominations, and a Canadian Film Awards nomination. McBride was one of the screenwriters of the cult classic punk rock musical Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and co-wrote five American Film Institute Life Achievement Award specials for CBS TV.
         
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

Joseph McBride is an American film historian, biographer, screenwriter, and professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University. McBride has published seventeen books since 1968, including acclaimed biographies of Steven Spielberg, Frank Capra, and John Ford. His most recent work is Into the Nightmare: My Search for the Killers of President John F. Kennedy and Officer J. D. Tippit, published in June 2013; this book, both epic and intimately personal, is the result of McBride's thirty-one-year investigation of the case. It contains many fresh revelations from McBride's rare interviews with people in Dallas, archival discoveries, and what novelist Thomas Flanagan, in The New York Review of Books, called McBride's "wide knowledge of American social history."

Before Into the Nightmare, McBride published Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless (2012) and updated editions of his 1997 book Steven Spielberg: A Biography in 2011 and 2012. The American second edition of the Spielberg book was published 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).

His 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, Mr. 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.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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There is a great deal of useful information packed into this book.
Patrice Fagnant-macarthur
If you buy just one screenwriting book ever, especially if you are a beginner, this is your book.
Gloria Ng
One of the most practical handbooks, and a great discussion on the art.
Thomas Bauer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur VINE VOICE on April 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless" by Joseph McBride is a new book that walks writers through the process of composing a screenplay. McBride, who has spent decades as a screenwriter and screenwriting teacher, uses the knowledge he has gathered to offer a step-by-step guide to adapting a short story into short movie. He uses the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London as his example and teaching tool. He provides the full text of the story, which is a man vs. nature tale in which nature wins. The story has very little in the way of dialogue, and therefore proves to be an excellent exercise in "thinking visually."

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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anna Anderson on March 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a novelist, I found this book to be more of a bible than just a tool. I can now work with screenwriters in a way that shows I understand what they are talking about. I may never try my hand at adapting my own books, but it sure is nice to collaborate on a more even playing field. The simple lesons in the book take the mystery out of the adaptation process, and my own writing will surely benefit as I think about my future stories in more of a film-friendly way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gloria Ng on August 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
I love that this author has provided the step-by-step guidelines to creating a professional screenplay. After reading this book, I was pretty clear that this was not the craft for me. If you buy just one screenwriting book ever, especially if you are a beginner, this is your book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer F on May 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book interesting and helpful in screenwriting description. This is not a "format" or technical book (there are other books meant for that). Joseph McBride helps guide you through getting your story to "show" instead of "tell."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Bauer on April 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've read and studied and practiced various methods, tools, and techniques learned from McKee, Truby, Snyder, Kitchen, Howard, Gulino. And those are the ones worth mentioning. This is one of the best. Provides a working method that gets real results, emphasizes language, clarifies formatting in key ways. Overall one of the most helpful in practical terms. I would imagine this would be useful to beginners and seasoned pros alike. If I was giving a course I'd use this book, or at the very least large sections. Along with all that, it's very well-written and insightful. Clarifies key elements, and genuinely enhances whatever is to be learned from above. One of the most practical handbooks, and a great discussion on the art. Highly recommended.
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