Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Script, The Script, The Script...

So said Billy Wilder when asked what the three most important elements of any film were. I can't disagree, although as a writer, I'm probably biased. However, it never fails to amaze me how many would be authors, screen or otherwise, don't actually read. It's a pretty important requirement when you think about it, and not just the good stuff, either. Infact it's often the worst writing that's given me the best education.

As a jumping off point, I wanted to mention some of the screenplays that a) inspired me to become a writer in the first place and b)remind me why it's worth the pretty appalling lifestyle trade-off in terms of pay, conditions and general lack of friends and social life.

Not surprisingly, most of these scripts became some of my all time favourite films. With their emphasis on character as plot and strong subtext they have informed and mirrored my writing preferences.
I recommend that you head on over to the excellent Drew's Script-O-Rama RIGHT NOW and download some of these beauties. Most are available in final shooting script format but where earlier drafts of the script also exist I recommend that you study these, too, to see the evolution from draft to draft and to form your own opinions about whether the right editorial changes were made from earlier versions. Oh, and did I mention that Drew's also has a wealth of TV scripts too? Read them at your leisure, but DO read them.

The following list is in no order of preference...

    • Memento – Screenplay by Christopher Nolan, based on the short story "Memento Mori" by Jonathan Nolan

    • Harold and Maude - Written by Colin Higgins

    • Adaptation - Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, based on the book "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean

    • Raging Bull - Screenplay by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin, based on the book by Jake La Motta with Joseph Carter and Peter Savage

    • Thelma and Louise - Written by Callie Khouri

    • 12 Angry Men –Reginald Rose

    • Dog Day Afternoon - Screenplay by Frank Pierson, based on a magazine article by P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore

    • Annie Hall –Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

    • All the President’s Men - Screenplay by William Goldman, based on the book by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward

    • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman, based on the novel by Ken Kesey

    • Taxi Driver - Written by Paul Schrader

    • American Beauty - Written by Alan Ball

    • The Usual Suspects - Written by Christopher McQuarrie

    • The Sweet Smell of Success - Screenplay by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, from a novelette by Ernest Lehman

    • The Third Man - Screenplay by Graham Greene, story by Graham Greene, based on the short story by Graham Greene

    • Fargo - Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

    • Magnolia – Paul Thomas Anderson

    • The Odd Couple – Neil Simon

    • The Wizard of Oz - Screenplay by Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf, adaptation by Noel Langley, based on the novel by L. Frank Baum

    • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, story by Charlie Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth

    • To Kill A Mockingbird - Screenplay by Horton Foote, based on the novel by Harper Lee

    • The Apartment - Written by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond

    • The Graduate - Screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, based on the novel by Charles Webb

    • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Written by William Goldman

Film Poster Images via FilmPosters.com

No comments: