Best Screenwriting Books To Read by Matthew Kalil

Film Courage: From what you’ve read, what is the best screenwriting book?

Matthew Kalil, Screenwriter/Author/Instructor: I can’t remember from school. I’ll have to look it up. I’m terrible with names. So there is two actually. My first thought when you said “What is the best screenwriting book I’ve ever read?” Was Chris Volger’s book [The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers]. That was my first thought because that was the first book I’ve read on screenwriting. It was given to me and it was really interesting and the idea of archetypes and writing to the mythic stories inside of us was really interesting and I think it is seminal. So you kind of have to read it. 

Then my second thought was I kind of like Save The Cat [Author Blake Snyder] popped up there but it was also like a structure thing and I am suspicious of structure and screenwriting even though we need structure. Overly structured stories for me where the beats of the story top the character’s motivations and the characters themselves can result in stories that sort of sit a little bit uncomfortable with me and are very predictable. We watch them and are not as moved by them as when you’re trying to do something that may be a little bit different. So I didn’t go for that one.

Then my mind went to another book called David Mamet True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor. That was kind of an interesting book. David Mamet has a very interesting take on writing and very different from anyone else. So anything that David Mamet writes on writing is very interesting.

The one that just kind of sticks with me is On Filmmaking: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director by Alexander Mackendrick which as far as I understand he…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Bio: Matthew Kalil is a writer, director and script editor. He has written and co-written over 40 produced episodes of TV and has received various grants, development funding and awards. Matthew’s productions have been screened and broadcast in Canada, Denmark, Morocco, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, the United States and the United Kingdom. Since receiving his MA in Screenwriting, he has been teaching, writing and mentoring students for close to 20 years. Matthew has developed a unique system of screenwriting theory that helps beginners as well as established screenwriters get in touch with their creative cores. His workshops have touched and inspired thousands of participants. His gentle and insightful script editing guidance has helped many writers realize the stories they were always trying to tell.


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