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Alternative Scriptwriting: Successfully Breaking the Rules Paperback – 1 Aug 2002
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Praise for the fifth edition:
"Screenwriting is about making choices. What Dancyger and Rush reveal so effectively in Alternative Screenwriting is just how many options are possible, how the various available choices work and how different decisions will impact screen storytelling. This book substantially broadens every screenwriters' -creative horizons."
-David Howard, USC screenwriting professor and author of The Tools of Screenwriting and How to Build a Great Screenplay."
"Alternative Scriptwriting is invaluable to anyone interested in screenwriting or in directing fiction. Using plain language it demystifies storytelling for the screen, and opens up myriad possibilities for using the cinema with invention, freshness, and imagination." - Michael Rabiger, Professor Emeritus, Film/Video Department, Columbia College Chicago.
"Just as Aristotle's "Poetics and André Bazin's "What is Cinema are an inseparable part of a Screenwriting reading list, Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush's "Alternative Scriptwriting is an absolute must read for a deeper understanding of the structure of Screenwriting. -Dr. John Bernstein, Director, Graduate Program in Screenwriting, Department of Film and Television, Boston University
"Alternative Scriptwriting," by Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush, is one of the few books on the subject that doesn't make you feel stupid while you're reading it.
Instead of the usual boring list of "tricks of the trade" that replaces a real table of content in so many "How To Write A Screenplay And Sell It For A Lot Of Money To An Even Bigger Lot Of Talentless Hopeful People" Dancyger & Rush offer real insight for those who take their screenwriting seriously and are not afraid to venture a little bit "beyond the rules". Both as a filmmaker and as a teacher I have found this volume very precious because what the authors do best is mix American craftsmanship with European sensibility.
An excellent cocktail, if you ask me. And you did."
-Marc Didden - Head Of Screenwriting at St. Lukas Hogeschool, Brussels , Writer/Director ( "Brussels By Night", "Istanbul", "Sailors Don't Cry" )
Praise for the third edition:
"An insightful alternative to mainstream narrative and character analysis that presents the reader with a clear dissection of the mainstream before revealing the alternatives."
-- Script Factory
"[Alternative Scriptwriting] aims to challenge its readers to create writing that is exceptional. While no book can possibly replace your own creative vision, as a resource it's thorough and is a good way to help yourself consider alternative ideas."
-- Plugin Cinema --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
Additions to the third edition include:* a comparative study of how two very different filmmakers handle different types of film.* a look at ways in which narrative tension, story structure, and perspective can be used when writing for the digital film * a study of adapting contemporary literature for film EDITIONNUMBER: 21See all Product description
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To give a few examples of the errors that I spotted:
They call the main character in Hitchcock's Vertigo by two different names (it's Scottie not Johnny); misspell Nabokov, Clouzot, Joe Mantegna, Dovzhenko; call Robert De Niro's character in The King of Comedy Rupert Popkin (it's actually Pupkin); confuse the director of Muriel's Wedding P.J. Hogan with Crocodile Dundee actor Paul Hogan; think Louis Malle's Murmur of the Heart is a "classic war film" (they must mean Malle's Lacombe Lucien); and finally (on page 216) can't quite decide whether Yojimbo and Seven Samurai are remakes of classic Westerns or inspired them. To quote: "Kurosawa made a gangster film, High and Low, as well as two films remade from classic Westerns, The Seven Samurai remade as The Maginificent Seven, and Yojimbo, remade as A Fistful of Dollars." I think they mean remade INTO but it would leave most people scratching their heads. Surely a moment checking these things wouldn't be too much trouble.
Once Focal Press properly copy-edit this book for the next edition I would certainly recommend it but until then it might be better to stick with Syd Field, Robert McKee or one of their many colleagues.
What Alternative Scriptwriting by Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush does is to show the rules so you can break them. They give a detailed breakdown of 14 genres and how they use the individual building blocks before discussing such things as how to:
* mix and match genres and what works and what doesn't;
* change structures so 4 Act or two Act stories;
* reframe the roles of passive/ active characters; and
* use tone or narrative voice.
Its not done in a dry way as the discussion is linked to case studies or comparisons of different Directors and international styles but it does help if you have seen the films or have them on DVD! The important thing is that they argue that screenwriting is part of the tradition of storytelling/writing and so need to draw on the full range. Its not a book to read if you want a how to layout a film script but it is one if you want to explore the narrative force of a book.
An interesting alternative take on genres and the film narrative is The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler. He explores how the mythic Hero's journey shapes plots and characterisation and so genres are merely different aspects of the journey. Again the rule is know the rules to break them.
So read both and enjoy the Saturday movie more but also check why the book works or doesn't
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