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This is no small thing.

Universal and Paramount are both releasing screenplays for several films, some currently in theatrical release, some yet-to-be released, presumably as part of their Oscar campaigns for Best Screenplay.

And, man, this is great. Usually, unless you live on the concrete slab between Long Beach and the San Fernando Valley, you can’t track down a script for anything on a new release rack at Blockbuster, much less anything in theaters.

So grab the PDFs. Print a few pages out for any of your students inclined towards film production or professional writing.

‘Cause screenwriting is a very different, very interesting, very constrained formThat last one’s for Dean.. Third-person omniscient, for example, is rare unless you’ve got clout enough to break the rules. Since your audience only has sound and picture to guide them through the story, that’s all you’re allowed to use.

For instance:

No good for screenplays:

Dan Meyer scrawls an opener exercise on the white board. His kids are noisy, still coming down from a Halloween candy high. Dan contemplates the infinite choices that have led him to such a job — some tiny, others even tinier — and figures that fifteen seconds is all he needs to get his car rolling out of the parking lot.

Good for screenplays:

  • INT. HIGH SCHOOL MATH CLASSROOM - DAY
  • DAN MEYER is writing an opener on the board while the class goes steadily crazy behind him. THE CHATTER is unbearable.
  • Dan's writing drifts downward as he writes. He doesn't seem to notice. Or care.
  • He turns and faces the class.
  • DAN
  • Okay.
    (a beat)
    Okay can we start?
  • A crumpled piece of paper smacks him in the face from off screen. His face sags a bit but he doesn't turn in that direction.
  • DAN
  • (to himself as much as the class)
    Really?
  • THE WINDOWS SHAKE.
  • The wing of a Boeing 767 TEARS OFF THE ROOF OF THE CLASS.

End scene, suckahs!

Get ‘Em

From Universal:

From Paramount:

Only film without a screenplay link is PTA’s There Will Be Blood, which is definitely a bummer.

2 Responses to “This is no small thing.”

  1. on 30 Oct 2007 at 8:50 pmDean Shareski

    Are you sure you’re in the right business?

  2. on 30 Oct 2007 at 9:38 pmdan

    Oh my no.