Screenwriting is one of the most difficult and severely under appreciated aspects of filmmaking. It requires one to have both diligence in creating something in a rigid structure, as well as be creative to lay the groundwork for any film. While there are plenty of great screenplays and many well written books on the subject, I can easily say that FilmCraft: Screenwriting is an essential read for any aspiring screenwriter or for those that just wish to learn more about filmmaking in general. Speaking with all kinds of screenwriters from all over the world and giving their accounts as to what makes their work timeless, Tim Grierson’s entry in the FilmCraft series showcases the essential framework and foundations as to what makes a screenplay function and make it timeless.
The format of the book is same as the other FilmCraft books, where there’s interview segments of present day masters, with insight to their background and methodology and a look into classic screenwriters that have made an impact on filmmaking. What made me appreciate this version, was how all of these writers were from different background, had different methods, but each and everyone of them say the same thing, write everyday. It’s this very key thing that makes a writer in any field, but for the screenwriter, they must find a way to take all of their inspirations, their current settings and mind states to create something that works on the page, so that it may translate to the screen.
From personal events to adapting novels into screenplays, each and everyone one of the contributors in the book manage to speak at lengths about the craft and how its very different for each individual. Guillermo Arriaga, writer of Amores Perros and Babel, talks about how he never does research and uses his own life experiences to shape the stories he tries to tell. Christopher Hampton talks about how reading Shakespeare made him become a writer. The beauty of having all of these people speak lengths about the craft is that it proves there is no one true way of becoming a writer. If one is diligent enough and can persevere through the task that is writing a screenplay and continue to do this over and over, then they can become a successful screenwriter.
Focal Press puts out some great stuff for film students and their books are used in film schools around the country, but the FilmCraft series is a true work of art. For anyone that wishes to get a first hand account of what it truly means to be a screenwriter and the hard work and effort it takes to be one, look into FilmCraft: Screenwriting, because its an exceptional read and an extremely useful book. Highly Recommended!