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Screen Plays: How 25 Scripts Made It to a Theater Near You -- For Better or Worseby David S. Cohen
"Perhaps you can't even count the number of times you've been sitting in a movie theater, thinking of all the other things you'll never buy with your misspent money, and you turn and say to your equally dismayed companion, 'How did this piece of crap ever get made?' A fascinating, detailed dissection of the screenwriting process, David S. Cohen's Screen Plays explores exactly that question — and wonders how the good ones survived the grueling process." Chris Bolton, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
In this fascinating survey of contemporary screen craft, David S. Cohen of Script and Variety magazines leads readers down the long and harrowing road every screenplay takes from idea to script to screen. In interviews with Hollywood screenwriters from across the board — Oscar winners and novices alike — Cohen explores what sets apart the blockbuster successes from the downright disasters.
Tracing the fortunes of twenty-five films, including Troy, Erin Brockovich, Lost in Translation, and The Aviator, Cohen offers insider access to back lots and boardrooms, to studio heads, directors, and to the over-caffeinated screenwriters themselves. As the story of each film evolves from the drawing board to the big screen, Cohen proves that how a script is written, sold, developed, and filmed can be just as dramatic and intriguing as the movie itself — especially when the resulting movie is a fiasco.
Covering films of all kinds — from tongue-in-cheek romps like John Waters's A Dirty Shame to Oscar winners like Monster's Ball and The Hours — Screen Plays is an anecdote-filled, often inspiring, always revealing look at the alchemy of the movie business. With Cohen as your expert guide, Screen Plays exposes how and why certain films (such as Gladiator) become "tent poles," those runaway successes every studio needs to survive, and others become train wrecks. Full of critical clues on how to sell a script — and avoid seeing it destroyed before the director calls Action! — it's the one book every aspiring screenwriter will find irresistible.
"As a well-placed observer who knows intimately many of tinsel town's key players, Variety reporter and 25-year Hollywood insider Cohen reveals the story behind 25 scripts that became such high-profile projects as Lost in Translation, Troy, American Beauty and The Aviator. On the way, budding screen-writers convinced their own story seems like a long-shot will find inspiration (or at least comfort) in stories like Milo Addica and Will Rokos's, whose screenplay for Monster's Ball was rejected by top industry brass as 'the best script that will never get made.' With the deep background reporting he's known for, Cohen produces revealing nuggets of moviemaking trivia, alongside stories of serendipity and triumph; for instance, had Erin Brockovich not shared a chiropractor with her future producer, Carla Santos Shamberg, her movie probably would never have been made. Nowhere is Cohen's understanding of the tempestuous film industry more apparent than in the compelling account of Black Hawk Down screenwriter Ken Nolan, who was terminated from that project only to get himself re-hired and, ultimately, sole writing credit. Cohen's is a surefire crowd-pleaser for casual movie fans and true cineastes." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Screen Plays is anecdotal, sometimes breezy and sometimes glancing, but it illustrates a point that screenwriters know all too well: Getting a movie made is a long gamble, and inevitably someone will be involved who wants a different movie from the one embodied in the script." St. Petersburg Times
"David Cohen's interviews have long been Script Magazine's most read and most popular articles. Readers consistently name 'From Script to Screen' as the first article they turn to in each issue." Shelly Mellott, Editor in Chief, Script Magazine
"When the movie I wrote, A Simple Plan, came out, I was astonished by the tedium of the publicity process — the same half dozen superficial questions repeated over and over again. I began to sound stupid and boring even to myself. One of the few exceptions to this was David Cohen's interview for Script Magazine. David knows the film industry and understands how it works. He grasped the complicated steps and missteps of how a script becomes a film and presented them clearly and compellingly. Perhaps even more exceptional, though, I actually recognized myself in his interview, the cadence of my own particular voice translated onto the page. That's a rare gift, and one which David seems to possess instinctively." Scott Smith, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of A Simple Plan
In this fascinating survey of contemporary screencraft, Variety magazine's Cohen guides readers down the long and harrowing road every screenplay takes, from idea to script to screen.
About the Author
David S. Cohen is an entertainment and business reporter as well as a writer and producer for film and television. During his thirty years in show business, he has acted and directed off-off Broadway plays, scripted television documentaries, and written for the syndicated series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. As a reporter, he has covered screenwriting, visual effects, and film production for Variety and Script magazines for more than a decade. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles.
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