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Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories Paperback – January 26, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Much like The Mailroom (2003), which looked at the wheeling and dealing in Hollywood from the perspectives of power players who came up through agency mailrooms, Tales from the Script offers a comprehensive look at the realities of working as a screenwriter from the perspective of those who have made careers out of writing for the big screen. Editors Hanson and Herman interviewed 50 writers for the book, including William Goldman, Antwone Fisher, and Nora Ephron. The writers offer candid thoughts and anecdotes about everything from breaking into the business to learning how to accept rejection, from finding a niche in the business to dealing with getting fired off a project. In between the writers’ commentary are sections that feature thoughts from others involved in the business, including a contest judge, a development executive, and a therapist. “There is a sense of being in the Old West here—it’s like panning for gold,” writer Steve Koren opines. In all, this overview captures the excitement, frustration, and reality of being a working screenwriter in an accessible and essential volume that aspiring screenwriters will devour. --Kristine Huntley

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“Captures the excitement, frustration, and reality of being a working screenwriter in an accessible and essential volume that aspiring screenwriters will devour.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Fascinating tales from the belly of the beast.” (Lawrence Kasdan, Oscar-nominated writer/director of The Big Chill, Wyatt Earp, and Body Heat)

“Tales From the Script gathers notable veterans of the screen wars who demonstrate the basic truth of our adventures in Movieland: Writing is the easy part.” (John Sayles, writer/director of Lone Star and Eight Men Out)

“A must-read for anyone who depends on the screenwriter’s craft. And that’s a lot of us.” (Edward R. Pressman, producer of Wall Street, American Psycho, and Reversal of Fortune)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dey Street Books; 1 edition (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061855928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061855924
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I loved this book even though I'm not a screenwriter. I picked it up because I'm a movie buff who loves behind-the-scenes stories. I never knew how badly screenwriters are treated, and I never knew how important screenplays are. But after reading this incredibly entertaining book, I feel like I just got to know all of the writers included. They're a fun bunch of people, they've seen everything there is to see in Hollywood, and their stories are just as compelling as the movies they write!

The photos of the writers make it feel like they're sitting right in front of me, and the extra interviews at the end of every chapter are really cool -- it's great to get the viewpoints of a development executive, a movie director, a guy who runs a script contest, etc. Thanks to "Tales from the Script," I have a new appreciation for how hard it is to write a movie, and I loved hearing all the stories about the making of "Bull Durham," "Butch Cassidy," "X-Men," "War of the Worlds," "The Mist," and so many others.

I know friends who write scripts, and I'm going to recommend this book to all of them, but it's not just for screenwriters. If you love movies, you'll enjoy this book as much as I did! Oh, and I can't wait to see the "Tales from the Script" movie when it comes out on DVD!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was completely surprised by this book. I'm just an average movie-goer and I had never heard of most of the people that were interviewed. It's an unusual paradox. These are some of our society's favorite writers, yet almost nobody knows who they are.

"Tales from the Script" provides thoughtful interviews with an impressively broad group of writers that ranges across a huge number of films from "Alien" and "X-Men" to "Taxi Driver" and "The Shawshank Redemption". The truth behind the curtain is funny and insightful.

It's a shame that the actors and directors steal all of the limelight!
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Format: Paperback
A little bit of everything is in here - comedy, drama, horror, suspense - with secrets and details that will captivate movie buffs and forever alter the dreams of those who aspire to write the next great screenplay, receive a life-changing paycheck, or both.

Tales from the Script is broken down into eleven chapters that capture the highs and lows of the Hollywood screenwriter:

The Adventure Begins
Breaking In
The Marketplace of Ideas
The First Yes
What's Your is Thiers
Power Players
The Rules of the Game
Slings and Arrows
Taking Control
No is the Path to Yes
Going the Distance

There are more than 300 pages of stories, secrets and anecdotes, so choosing just one representative of the entire compendium is impossible. I flipped back through the book, looking for a quote that best captures what a screenwriter faces. The following quote from Andrew W. Marlowe summarizes the screenwriter's life:

"You never really succeed. You always fail at a higher level. As a screenwriter, the first level of failure is you can't finish your screenplay. I saw a lot of those people in film school. Then you finish the screenplay, and nobody wants to read it. Then you get somebody to read it, and they're not interested. You get them to read it and they're interested, but you can't sell it. Then you sell it, but it's not made into a movie. Or it's made into a terrible movie that you're embarrassed to be associated with. Or, you know, you hit the jackpot. You get the movie made, it's a critical success, it's a box office success -- and everybody turns to you and says, `Okay, you gotta do it again.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author does a fine job of collecting various interviews with successful screenwriters who explain the in's and out's of the struggles and (occasional) triumphs of being a Hollywood hack. You'd be forgiven if you walked away from this book discouraged, as nearly every writer goes to great depths to explain just how difficult it is to sell your script. Nevertheless, this book does give some helpful advice and is an entertaining read to anyone who may be thinking about moving into this field of work.
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Format: Paperback
[...]

This is a fantastic book that gives you the inside word from the best, most influential and most legendary screenwriters in the business. If you're working on your first screenplay, have written 50, or you're just a movie buff, this is an invaluable glimpse into a segment of the industry that is absolutely CRUCIAL but rarely explored. I especially like the cross-section of writers and movies here; there's a nice balance of classics and modern popcorn movies and a broad palette of filmmaking styles from the gritty populist films of the 70s up to the cgi action-fests of the 2000s.

If you're a serious screenwriter and fan of screenwriting, there will invariably be a few screenwriters that YOU would have loved to have seen interviewed but are absent, but that's subjective. They couldn't get everyone. Plus, even though I'm tired of hearing ol' windbag William Goldman chatter on about the same movies he's detailed in several books, I have to admit that he is the original "rock star" screenwriter. And talking about rock star screenwriters (an oxymoron in 99.9% of the screenwriting population, let me assure you!) it's pretty much REQUIRED that you interview Shane Black. It's amazing to me that it's been over 23 years since "Lethal Weapon" but he's still SHANE, the legend (and this is primarily for his huge paychecks, the $$$, but you don't get that kind of money in Hollywood without having a powerful, unique voice). And having met him in person at the Austin Screenwriters' Conference, I must say that he's great at offering his wit and wisdom to up and coming writers. Like Black, the other writers are articulate, honest and entertaining in their stories from the trenches. The editors have gathered a fantastic group.
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