I’ve been memed.
Thanks very much, Rob.
I hate being memed. I don’t hate the memer, I just dislike the pressure of having to say something interesting to order and I really hate meme-ing others since I feel I’m intruding on their lives.
In fact, that’s the bit of the meme thing I hate. I hate asking people do to things; I don’t know why, but I find it very difficult. Occasionally I feel the need to ask people for help and I immediately feel ashamed for putting them on the spot – and that’s when it’s important enough for me to actually seek assistance. Merely asking someone to do something for fun?
I just can’t.
So I won’t.
I will answer the meme though, as best as I can.
Film book recommendations. I don’t have the original meme to work from, but I think the idea is to recommend five books about films or maybe film making?
The first thing which springs to mind is … I haven’t really read many books about films.
This is embarrassing and, quite frankly, shows a marked lack of interest in my chosen profession.
In fact, a cursory glance at my bookshelves shows I’ve ever only read five film-related books.
Can that really be true?
Basically, I have no choice but to list them all. Even if I don’t heartily recommend all of them.
1) Something I Can’t Remember by Someone I Can’t Remember
Ten years ago, shortly after starting a job I hated, I decided I was going to go to University and do a scriptwriting degree. My parents, keen to support my ambitions, bought me a ‘how to write scripts’ book.
For the life of me, I can’t remember what it was called or who wrote it.
I can remember being thoroughly underwhelmed by it. Apart from a few technical details, there was nothing in that book which wasn’t blindingly obvious from watching films.
Films have a beginning, middle and end; they have turning points, they have a mid-point; they have sub-plots; they have … I mean for fuck’s sake! I have seen a film before.
An afternoon spent in Waterstones, skimming through a host of ‘how to’ books revealed they all have the same info in them. A quick comparison with University prospectuses(prospectii?) showed the courses covered pretty much the same areas.
Three years to learn the same stuff covered in one book? Stuff I already (kind of) knew?
And then it hit me: the crap job basically consisted of sitting in expensive hotels doing nothing for days on end – the perfect job for a writing career.
Bollocks to it, I thought, I’ll just stay in this job and not bother with Uni.
Still not sure if that was the right decision.
2) Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
Everyone’s read this one, haven’t they?
I read it, I enjoyed it … but the overwhelming memory was the end bit about converting a short story into a short film which someone (George Roy Hill?) said was a fucking stupid idea.
Other than that, I can’t really remember much about it.
Oh, except William Goldman doesn’t use INT. or EXT. because he thinks it looks ugly.
I would re-read that, if I still had it; but it became a casualty of lending stuff to my brother. A mistake I keep repeating because, well, he’s my brother.
He did actually give some stuff back recently. It was very surprising.
3) If Chins Could Kill by Bruce Campbell
It’s good, I liked it.
4) Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
Yeah … another one of those people who’s more famous for telling other people what to do than for doing it himself. I happened across it in a bookshop and thought I’d read it just to see what all the fuss is about.
It’s pretty much exactly the same as the first book I read, only more concise. Which to me makes it better. I did adopt the board thing, or a half remembered version of it. I think it’s probably the best ‘how to’ book I’ve read (a huge selection, as you can see) for the complete novice since it covers the basics quickly and simply.
It’s alright, passes the time.
5) Writing Drama by Yves Lavandier
I only read this because they sent it to me and asked me to.
It’s got a hell of a lot of detail in it and made my head spin. There’s a lot to absorb from one book, possibly too much. I suspect it’s the kind of book you need to read in sections and then go away and do some writing exercise to cement what you’ve learnt. It would probably be a very good accompaniment to a writing course.
And that’s it.
Those are the only five film books I’ve ever read.
Pathetic, isn’t it?