Read A Book On Screenwriting Or Read A Screenplay? by Shawn Christensen

Watch the video interview on Youtube here
Film Courage: What’s the most important part of the screenwriting process that if it was taken away it would just totally make the whole thing not so fun, you know…it would totally negate the process?


Shawn Christensen, Co-writer/director THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL: For me the most important part of the process I guess is…well, I mean the most important part of any process of writing whether it’s a screenplay or not is the dreaming. You know, the dreaming of making another world or telling a new, fresh story, I don’t know if that is particular to screenwriting? But again I do like the cinematic format of a screenplay. I’m not going to say that I prefer it to a novel or a book, but there is an immediacy to it and I guess if screenplays didn’t have that immediacy, maybe I wouldn’t be as attracted to writing. But I like that kind of you know Hunter S. Thompson sort of like really rapid-fire way that you can write a script. Not everyone writes screenplays like that.


Like some people, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA I’m sure isn’t written that way, you know? It’s a slow, slow drive and it’s just the characters are subtly and beautifully and there’s different gears you can use to write a screenplay. And sometimes you want to write a slow one and sometimes you want a fast one and that’s I think part of the fun.


Film Courage: Is there a specific book that you’ve enjoyed reading that talks about the writing process or maybe indirectly talks about it that’s not really intended for screenwriters?


Shawn: Well, I read a Syd Field book when I started out. I read it and I liked some of what he had to say. And I read How to be a whatever…for dummies or something. That didn’t do anything for me.  Once in awhile these books work when they tell you things to avoid.


When you go to the store you’re going to see 75 books that say How To Be A Screenwriter. I would say the most valuable aspect of those books are often the parts of the book where they tell you to avoid things they say stay away from you know because there are clichés, there are a lot of them, and when people in the film industry read those clichés over and over again, it has an effect on them.


I got my experience from reading my favorite movies or my favorite screenplays. And I remember when I opened up the Syd Field book (I think his first one) he was talking about…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


Watch the video interview on Youtube here






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Directed by: Shawn Christensen

Starring: Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Monaghan, and Nathan Lane


After publishing a bestselling novel based on the death of one of his high school classmates, the controversial writer Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman) finds himself catapulted to unexpected fame and renown. His relationship with his girlfriend (Elle Fanning) begins to fall apart as the dark consequences of the book intrude on their life together, and he disappears without a trace. Nearly a decade later, an enigmatic detective (Kyle Chandler) searches for the missing author, whose books are connected to a string of mysterious arsons. Check it out on Amazon here.


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See it on Kickstarter here – The Last White Man is a feature film produced and written by Dean Tatulli and Mark L. Mazzeo. It is a dark satire/thriller with a focus on race, identity, and social politics in modern day America. Karl Gordon, an underemployed pizza delivery boy works in his quiet suburban hometown where romantic, professional, and social failures fuel his hatred for the changing world around him, setting him on a course that can only lead to carnage. The Last White Man is now crowdfunding on Kickstarter.


THE LAST WHITE MAN is a satirical look at how a misguided obsession with victim status can lead to violence.