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Arts and Entertainment

Putting the Fighter Back In Writer

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We acquired Alan Trustman's The Screenplay Sell: What Every Writer Should Know through an improbable chain of circumstances. A high school librarian, who may or may not be our mother, was asked to buy this book by a drama teacher at her school. They sent two copies, and she gave us the other one. Now imagine that on top of that, we had had to snatch this book from the librarian's hand while riding horseback over a choppy river of failed actors going back to Smalltown, and that we had to spend ten years waiting in line for the chance, and you'll have some idea of the strange combination of perseverance and blind luck that Trustman recommends as the way to sell your screenplay.

This isn't the usual boring (and bad) advice about registering your priceless prose with the WGA and observing the correct screenplay format, or how you should invest hundreds of dollars in a program to indent your character names five tabs out. This is how to break down the door. Trustman was so persnickety that he got seventeen screenplays ( including Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair) produced even though he refused to move to LA. There is information in this book that you need, aspiring screenwriters, and do not have - such as what days and times to call the studios, and what exactly a "half Nelson" is in terms of forced reads by executives. Trustman is so thorough in describing every way that you can sell your screenplay that his chapter titles go all the way to "The Third Soul Search" and "Plan F." If you do everything he says, to the letter, you'll probably get your screenplay produced regardless of its quality.

Apart from his bias against indie producing - we have to argue that the tide is going to turn after Tarnation more towards the bedroom auteur and away from the studios - his advice is essential. Nothing is dated in this book except some of the hip jargon (Ponzi scheme?) and Trustman's writing is both bitter and funny. If you must write a screenplay (and we know you must) check this book out before you dream of showing it to anyone. It's available, self-published, on Support the man. He's trying to help you out here. And it's no secret that screenwriters don't get paid enough for a decent retirement.