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Screenwriting for a Global Market

Screenwriting for a Global Market: Selling Your Scripts from Hollywood to Hong Kong

Andrew Horton
Foreword by Bernard Gordon
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 227
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  • Book Info
    Screenwriting for a Global Market
    Book Description:

    Cinema is a truly global phenomenon and screenwriters who limit their ambitions to Hollywood can unnecessarily limit their careers. This book, loaded with information on every page, provides the practical know-how for breaking into the global marketplace. It is the first book to offer specific advice on writing for screens large and small, around the world from Hollywood to New Zealand, from Europe to Russia, and for alternative American markets including Native American, regional, and experimental. The book provides valuable insider information, such as * Twenty-five percent of German television is written by Hollywood writers. Screenwriters just need to know how to reach that market. * Many countries, including those in the European Union, have script development money available-to both foreign and local talent--from government-sponsored film funds. * The Web's influence on the film industry has been profound, and here you can find out how to network through the Web. The book also lists the key Web addresses for writers. Andrew Horton, author of two acclaimed books on screenwriting, includes personal essays by accomplished screenwriters from around the world and offers insightful case studies of several films and television scripts, among themMy Big Fat Greek Wedding; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon;andThe Sopranos.Full of endless enthusiasm for great films and great scripts, this book will be an essential resource for both aspiring writers and accomplished writers hoping to expand their horizons, improve their skills, and increase their chances for success. Includes an interview with Terry Gilliam and contributions from Bernard Gordon, writer forThe Day of the TriffidsandThe Thin Red Line;Lew Hunter, Chair of Screenwriting at UCLA; Karen Hall, writer/producer forJudging AmyandM*A*S*H;and other screenwriters

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93752-9
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Bernard Gordon

    When I hear the termglobalthese days, I think of global capitalism and battles in the streets of Seattle, Quebec, Genoa, Ottawa, Evian, Athens, Geneva, and elsewhere. What is the connection between these and screenwriting around the world? They are precise opposites. Instead of exporting American hamburgers to the Champs-Elysées and the Piazza di Spagna or Disney Worlds to Tokyo, Paris, and so on, this is a book about ending the monopoly of Hollywood “hamburger” on the screens of the world and helping to develop wonderful local cultural cuisine not only for each country but for the entire world...

    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Drink Locally, Write Globally
    (pp. 1-10)

    Imagine this: you are an American living on a Greek island and working on a Norwegian screenplay that you must deliver to the director in Spain when finished. Sound like a new half-hour sitcom? Actually this is just one of many personal experiences I’ve had in recent years that led me to be a firm believer in “global screenwriting.”

    What exactly do I mean by global screenwriting? Well, for a number of reasons I’ll mention below, I think the term embraces an international view of screenwriting today. First, I am speaking of multinational and cross-cultural possibilities for writers everywhere. Yet...


    • CHAPTER 1 Have Laptop and Passport, Will Travel Personal Takes on Worldwide Screenwriting
      (pp. 15-29)

      I didn’t know it at the time, but my birth as a worldwide screenwriter really dates back to my youth, when I saw Jean-Luc Godard’sBreathlessfor the first time. As a young American high school student, I had never seen a Hollywood film where the main character—Jean-Paul Belmondo in this case—simply turned to us (the camera!) and talked as if he knew we were there and could communicate with him. Not only that, I was impressed that he clearly was imitating Humphrey Bogart (there was even a shot of Belmondo standing by a Bogart poster in Paris)...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Hollywood Influence on Worldwide Screenwriting and International/Independent Influences on Hollywood
      (pp. 30-52)

      Two very different worlds exist in screenwriting. French writer/director Robert Bresson suggests a European mind-set when he says, “Be the first to see what you see as you see it” (25), and Max Adams, a young survivor of the Hollywood system, expresses the Hollywood mentality when he reflects, “Agents don’t buy scripts. Studios do” (9). Bresson focuses on how to write and make the film you want to make. Adams offers “practical” info on how to deal with “the system.” The truth is that most of us, as screenwriters, are caught somewhere in between. No matter which country we live...

    • CHAPTER 3 Eight Worldwide Projects Up Close
      (pp. 53-92)

      In this chapter we look closely at seven films and one television series that display a variety of worldwide influences in their conception and/or movement from script to production. Our goal? Well, of course, I hope to inspire you to take on a global project yourself if you have not already done so. Furthermore, I urge you to see these films/shows if you have not seen them and to go over the material mentioned, from Homer to Bosnia.

      Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonis a triumphant example of a script written in two languages (English and Chinese) by an American and...


    • CHAPTER 4 New Zealand: Moving Beyond a National Cinema
      (pp. 97-105)

      We New Zealanders live a particularly uncomfortable contradiction. Although we convey a “fuck you all” attitude, we care very deeply about what others think of us. So stories that are recognizably, even overtly, New Zealand in character are the call of the day, but they must not besoNew Zealand that they exclude an overseas market. Such are the contradictory threads that we must somehow resolve as screenwriters in this country.

      Let me be more specific.

      As New Zealanders, we tend to suffer from that excruciating condition of wanting to be recognized for our uniqueness, and it pervades all...

    • CHAPTER 5 After Naked Men and Wedding Bells Screenwriting in the United Kingdom in a New Century
      (pp. 106-112)

      Most people outside the United Kingdom are aware of a new successful crop of films such asChicken Run; Notting Hill; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels;and the massive hit of a few years agoThe Full Monty. Some will be aware of the ongoing award-winning dramas and comedy series emerging from British television. However, I suspect few are aware of the sheer scale of change and opportunities now being created in the new U.K. screen landscape. I am not just referring to the growth in delivery systems, with cable only just arriving in most U.K. homes, the massive...

    • CHAPTER 6 Through a Mythic Lens
      (pp. 113-118)

      I’m an American Indian on my mom’s side and a cowboy on my father’s. Consider the psychology of that for a moment, and you’ll have a new understanding of the phrase “at war with oneself.” I’ve written three feature-length scripts, only one of which made it kicking and screaming to the screen. I’m thirty-four, never went to film school (although I’ve ridden my bike past some of the better ones), and until two weeks ago had never read a film book. The usual talk of mentors and influences is not forthcoming, and my sense of my own process is as...

    • CHAPTER 7 Screenwriting (and Filmmaking) in the Balkans
      (pp. 119-127)

      In a poll conducted in Sarajevo in 2000 by the independent magazineSlobodna Bosnafilm critics and filmmakers from all of the republics of former Yugoslavia were invited to select the best Yugoslav film made before disintegration, and they voted forWho’s Singing Over There(1980), my directorial debut. After all the years of terrible war and atrocities, I was deeply touched by this honor, which came from the city devastated by my compatriots. It helped me feel a little better about the fact that I am probably the only major director in Serbia who did not make a single...

    • CHAPTER 8 American TV Writing Musings of a Global Storyteller
      (pp. 128-133)

      I am a television writer. I’ve been one for a long time, which means I’ve been announcing that fact at cocktail parties, when asked what I do for a living, for a long time. By now I’m very used to the reaction I get, which is somewhere between “We don’t evenowna television” (read: “We don’thavehead lice”) and “We only watch the Learning Channel.” Sometimes I just get a surprised look and an “Oh, really?”—which is meant to be noncommittal but is generally delivered with an inflection as if I’d just revealed myself as Tim McVeigh’s...

    • CHAPTER 9 Lew Hunter’s Worldwide Screenwriting 434
      (pp. 134-140)

      “What right does a donkey ex-farm boy from Guide Rock, Nebraska, have teaching screenwriting in Israel,” says moi to myself in 1983. My more assured voice replies, “Well, he has master’s degrees from Northwestern and UCLA and will be granted a doctor of letters. He has seventeen aggregate years as a creative executive at CBS, NBC, ABC, Disney, and Hanna-Barbera. He has been a card-carrying Writers Guild of America professional screenwriter for fourteen years, and, oh yes, during those years he had a heavy and/or light hand in developing over five thousand hours of television episodes, miniseries, and movies.” “Well,...

    • CHAPTER 10 Building a Screenplay: A Five-Act Paradigm, or, What Syd Field Didn’t Tell You
      (pp. 141-151)

      As a non-Hollywood writer and director, I ask screenwriters around the world to join me and look at the original three-act paradigm put forward by Syd Field in his bookScreenplay(11):

      This paradigm received a lot of praise and became a de facto standard in Hollywood. But it has also faced harsh criticism for its oversimplicity and failure to accommodate the sophisticated demands of modern filmmaking. Indeed, looking at this paradigm as a sort of “painting hanging on the wall” one may ask some tough questions:

      We’re already thirty minutes into the film—is it still the beginning, as...

    • CHAPTER 11 “I Want Movies to Surprise, Stimulate, and Shock Audiences”: An Interview with Terry Gilliam
      (pp. 152-158)

      I mentioned Terry Gilliam in the introduction as a prime example of a worldwide screenwriter and filmmaker. And it is fitting that we return to him as this volume is being finished while his filmJabberwockyis rereleased in the United States. Gilliam sees screenwriting as an activity involving more than writing and, in the worldwide sense, as more than just thinking of a multitude of countries. Even when he was not actually writing scenes and dialogue for the Monty Python films, for instance, he was always influencing the scripts and adding to the films through his directing, his art,...

    • Fade Out: Conclusions, New Beginnings
      (pp. 159-164)

      I hope this collection has provided a map to help you navigate the landscape of global screenwriting. Before we wrap up, let’s return to the five commandments I put forth in the introduction:

      Drink locally.

      Travel and even live abroad from time to time.

      Write with a partner from another country.

      Increase your worldwide contacts and film knowledge by attending at least one international film festival a year.

      Use the Internet in ways that truly help you as a writer.

      Follow these five commandments, and write the script that your world travels urge you to write. Comedy, action, drama, or...


      (pp. 167-168)
      (pp. 169-171)
      (pp. 172-179)
      (pp. 180-183)
      (pp. 184-188)
      (pp. 189-192)
    (pp. 193-196)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 197-198)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 199-210)