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Me and You and Memento and Fargo: How Independent Screenplays Work Paperback – March 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (March 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826428053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826428059
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"US academic J.J. Murphy argues that the meteoric rise of indie filmmaking in the last 25 years has necessitated a different style of storytelling. His analysis of a variety of indie scripts will chiefly be of interest to aspiring screenwriters."
—Empire


"Lately, we've all been pondering the same question: Are independent films really independent anymore? Author Murphy asserts that independent films are determined more by their missions than their budgets."
—Script Magazine


"Me and You and Memento and Fargo is absolutely appealing far beyond just being a typical screenwriting "manual" such those written by Syd Field and his ilk. Murphy is clearly zeroing in on the way these films are written, but even those not interested in writing their own screenplays should find this book totally engrossing.
...Hopefully it'll give food for thought to a new generation of screenwriters who truly want to push the storytelling envelope again." -Bad Lit: The Journal of Underground Film

"With J.J. Murphy's insightful look at American independent screenwriting [in] Me and You and 'Memento' and 'Fargo': How Independent Screenplays Work...Murphy focuses on independent cinema in clear, engaging prose, tracking how a series of seminal independent features were developed and written and his case studies include scripts and films by Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Allison Anders, Miranda July, David Lynch and Gus Van Sant.

— Kathryn Millard, Journal of Screenwriting 1, 2 (May 2010)



"Lately, we've all been pondering the same question:  Are independent films really independent anymore?  Author Murphy asserts that independent films are determined more by their missions than their budgets."
—Script Magazine


"Me and You and Memento and Fargo is absolutely appealing far beyond just being a typical screenwriting “manual” such those written by Syd Field and his ilk. Murphy is clearly zeroing in on the way these films are written, but even those not interested in writing their own screenplays should find this book totally engrossing.
...Hopefully it’ll give food for thought to a new generation of screenwriters who truly want to push the storytelling envelope again." -Bad Lit: The Journal of Underground Film

"With J.J. Murphy’s insightful look at American independent screenwriting [in] Me and You and 'Memento’ and 'Fargo’: How Independent Screenplays Work...Murphy focuses on independent cinema in clear, engaging prose, tracking how a series of seminal independent features were developed and written and his case studies include scripts and films by Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Allison Anders, Miranda July, David Lynch and Gus Van Sant.

— Kathryn Millard, Journal of Screenwriting 1, 2 (May 2010)

About the Author

J. J. Murphy is Professor of Film Production and Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His films have played at major international film festivals and have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Austrian Film Museum (Vienna), the Barbican Film Centre (London), and the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Richard Gess on July 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Me and You and Memento and Fargo does more to aid and abet the art of screenwriting than almost the entire output of the writing gurus from Syd Field (orig. pub. 1979) to date. On the way, it also provides a film-fest full of insights into 12 important independent movies (Stranger Than Paradise, Safe, Fargo, Trust, Gas Food Lodging, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Reservoir Dogs, Elephant, Memento, Mulholland Dr., Gummo, and Slacker) that anyone serious about screenwriting or just moviegoing should know. Unlike most of the writers recycling Aristotle's Poetics into lottery tickets for the movie-biz sweepstakes, J.J. Murphy has a long track record as both a filmmaker and a film scholar. His understanding of cinema as art allows him to see screenwriting not as a rigidly fixed path to the least scriptreader/suit resistance, but as a wonderfully flexible and variable calling with as many different possibilities as there are individual filmmakers.

In his introduction, Murphy does a long-overdue temple-sweeping on Field, McKee, and Co., exposing their myopic tendency to set the rules by the rules of the marketplace (which is actually clueless, as per William Goldman's summation, "Nobody knows anything"). The chapters devoted to Murphy's film selections provide a catalog of alternative strategies for writers whose voices can't or won't harmonize with traditional American film structure. Mainstream writing coaches would interject here that Murphy's movies are the work of writer/directors, who have the freedom (bought at the risk of personal loss and/or losses to producers without the cash cushions of major studios) to film whatever they write.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. T. ONeal on July 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It gave me a totally new and fresh approach to writing independent films. After years of studying the "classic" three act structure (I have an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, and learned all the classic Hollywood tricks and structure there), it was great to read a critical analysis of contemporary successful indie movies and have someone explain why they work so well (even if they don't make total sense or work logically, i.e., Memento.)

Who says you have to follow the "formula?". Certainly not JJ Murphy. But I'd highly advise an aspiring screenwriter to first learn the "formula" then read this book and learn how to break it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Augustine on July 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Perhaps it's because I was expecting this book to be more of an alternative screenwriting 'manual' that would be more scholarly in approach and avoid the simplistic cliches that plague nearly all of the other 'manuals' out there, but I was somewhat disappointed in this book. While engagingly written, it mostly consists of plot summaries of the films it covers, with some commentary on how they differ from the 'classical' approach to storytelling, but little serious analysis beyond what a perceptive viewer would have already noted with a viewing or two of these films, and some experience with Field et al's "paradigm". Above all, I was hoping this would finally be the book to go into depth about the true underlying principles behind the medium of cinema, as not just a means for telling a story, but as a temporal, audio-visual art form, but Murphy didn't use the opportunity he had with this book to do this.
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