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Step 3: The Character Biography

Joseph McBride

Joseph McBride is a film historian and associate professor in the Cinema department at San Francisco State University. His many books include Searching for John Ford, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Hawks on Hawks, Whatever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career, as well as the critical studies John Ford (1974, with Michael Wilmington) and Orson Welles. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Writing in Pictures : Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless

Faber & Faber, 2012

Book chapter

...The new frontier in film style is character. They’ve pushed film style so far that there’s no sense trying to change these music video and film school kids. You go back to basics. . . .That’s what it’s about. Particularly on a lower budget,...

Breaking the Back of the Book; or, The Art of Adaptation

Joseph McBride

Joseph McBride is a film historian and associate professor in the Cinema department at San Francisco State University. His many books include Searching for John Ford, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Hawks on Hawks, Whatever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career, as well as the critical studies John Ford (1974, with Michael Wilmington) and Orson Welles. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Writing in Pictures : Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless

Faber & Faber, 2012

Book chapter

...There’s another terrible phrase in Hollywood, but one that is much more useful than “high concept.” This is what is known as “breaking the back of the book.” It’s the elegant way movie people have of explaining the delicate process...

Ten Tips for the Road Ahead

Joseph McBride

Joseph McBride is a film historian and associate professor in the Cinema department at San Francisco State University. His many books include Searching for John Ford, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Hawks on Hawks, Whatever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career, as well as the critical studies John Ford (1974, with Michael Wilmington) and Orson Welles. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Writing in Pictures : Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless

Faber & Faber, 2012

Book chapter

...Before we move on to our practical applications and exercises, here are some of the key dos and don’ts that help define the craft of screenwriting.1. Don’t write what we can’t see or hear. If I can leave you with one basic rule about...

Short Takes on Bad Screenplays

Tom Stempel

Tom Stempel is the author of five books, two of which were published by Continuum–FrameWork: A History of Screenwriting in American Film and Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American Television Writing–the others being Screenwriter: The Life of Nunnally Johnson; Screenwriting; and American Audiences on Movies and Moviegoing. He is Professor of Cinema, Cinema-Television Department, Los Angeles City College. He has taught on these subjects for more than thirty years. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Understanding Screenwriting : Learning from Good, Not-Quite-So-Good, and Bad Screenplays

Continuum, 2008

Book chapter

...The films are in chronological order of release. Dune (1984. Based on the book by Frank Herbert. Screenplay by David Lynch, but he took his name off the credits as writer of the 137-minute theatrical release. He put his name back...

Research and Development

Joseph McBride

Joseph McBride is a film historian and associate professor in the Cinema department at San Francisco State University. His many books include Searching for John Ford, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Hawks on Hawks, Whatever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career, as well as the critical studies John Ford (1974, with Michael Wilmington) and Orson Welles. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications

Writing in Pictures : Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless

Faber & Faber, 2012

Book chapter

...What drew me to Jack London’s story “To Build a Fire” in the first place? The title. The bluntly elemental nature of this highly concrete phrase promised a flinty story of survival. At a time in my young life when I was just beginning...

Star Wars: Episode I, II, and III

Tom Stempel

Tom Stempel is the author of five books, two of which were published by Continuum–FrameWork: A History of Screenwriting in American Film and Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American Television Writing–the others being Screenwriter: The Life of Nunnally Johnson; Screenwriting; and American Audiences on Movies and Moviegoing. He is Professor of Cinema, Cinema-Television Department, Los Angeles City College. He has taught on these subjects for more than thirty years. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Understanding Screenwriting : Learning from Good, Not-Quite-So-Good, and Bad Screenplays

Continuum, 2008

Book chapter

...Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace (1999. Screenplay by George Lucas. 133 minutes) “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Yes, I know that is the first line of the first film, but there is a reason Lucas has it at the beginning...

Fargo

Tom Stempel

Tom Stempel is the author of five books, two of which were published by Continuum–FrameWork: A History of Screenwriting in American Film and Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American Television Writing–the others being Screenwriter: The Life of Nunnally Johnson; Screenwriting; and American Audiences on Movies and Moviegoing. He is Professor of Cinema, Cinema-Television Department, Los Angeles City College. He has taught on these subjects for more than thirty years. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications

Understanding Screenwriting : Learning from Good, Not-Quite-So-Good, and Bad Screenplays

Continuum, 2008

Book chapter

...Fargo (1996. Screenplay by Ethan and Joel Coen. 95 minutes) Ethan and Joel Coen made an impact as screenwriters with “cult films” like Blood Simple (1984) and Raising Arizona (1987). They are cult be cause the Coens condescended...

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Tom Stempel

Tom Stempel is the author of five books, two of which were published by Continuum–FrameWork: A History of Screenwriting in American Film and Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American Television Writing–the others being Screenwriter: The Life of Nunnally Johnson; Screenwriting; and American Audiences on Movies and Moviegoing. He is Professor of Cinema, Cinema-Television Department, Los Angeles City College. He has taught on these subjects for more than thirty years. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications

Understanding Screenwriting : Learning from Good, Not-Quite-So-Good, and Bad Screenplays

Continuum, 2008

Book chapter

...Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004. Screenplay by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay. 94 minutes) A few readers of early drafts of this book got upset about this chapter, saying comedy is “subjective,” and so how can I put a comedy...

Bull Durham

Tom Stempel

Tom Stempel is the author of five books, two of which were published by Continuum–FrameWork: A History of Screenwriting in American Film and Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American Television Writing–the others being Screenwriter: The Life of Nunnally Johnson; Screenwriting; and American Audiences on Movies and Moviegoing. He is Professor of Cinema, Cinema-Television Department, Los Angeles City College. He has taught on these subjects for more than thirty years. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications

Understanding Screenwriting : Learning from Good, Not-Quite-So-Good, and Bad Screenplays

Continuum, 2008

Book chapter

...Bull Durham (1988. Screenplay by Ron Shelton. 108 minutes) Before he became a screenwriter, Ron Shelton played minor league baseball. The first screenplay he wrote, A Player to Be Named Later, told the story of “Crash” Davis, a journeyman...

The Elements of Screenwriting

Joseph McBride

Joseph McBride is a film historian and associate professor in the Cinema department at San Francisco State University. His many books include Searching for John Ford, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Hawks on Hawks, Whatever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career, as well as the critical studies John Ford (1974, with Michael Wilmington) and Orson Welles. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications

Writing in Pictures : Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless

Faber & Faber, 2012

Book chapter

...So now you’ve written the outline for your adaptation. That wasn’t so hard, was it? With the benefit of a writing collaborator, you probably found it easier than you expected to construct a good plan for a movie. The original writer...