Who went to USC or UCLA?

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  • Who went to USC or UCLA?

    Who went to USC or UCLA for screenwriting? What books did you read for their classes that you found helpful? I'm someone who went to a subpar film school and feel like I didn't learn the screenwriting basics right the first time around. I'm currently reading "Story" by Mckee. I've also read "Save the Cat", and "The Anatomy of Story" by Truby.

    And if you didn't go to either of those schools but know of other helpful screenwriting books, please feel free to sound off!
    Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 10-09-2020, 04:28 PM. Reason: Added tags

  • #2
    Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

    I graduated from USC film school long ago; well before the vast majority of the books on screenwriting ever even existed. I believe my roommate had Syd Field's first book.

    What you are reading already is fine. Some will be for those books, some will be against them. Don't worry about it.

    Quite honestly, everything I really learned at film school came from the teachers & their professional experiences vs. any books. I realize this isn't what you are asking but I'd say pick a few other key/"well-acknowledged" books out there on the subject and take what you can from those as well. But I'd spend as much time, if not much more, simply reading lots of scripts.

    I'll also add, there are so many articles out there online about screenwriting, I don't even know if anyone really needs to buy a book any more. (Though, I still love books.)
    Will
    Done Deal Pro
    www.donedealpro.com

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    • #3
      Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

      Originally posted by MrGoodBars View Post
      Who went to USC or UCLA for screenwriting? What books did you read for their classes that you found helpful? I'm someone who went to a subpar film school and feel like I didn't learn the screenwriting basics right the first time around. I'm currently reading "Story" by Mckee. I've also read "Save the Cat," and "The Anatomy of Story" by Truby.

      And if you didn't go to either of those schools but know of other helpful screenwriting books, please feel free to sound off!
      If you want to read more on the subjects of story and screenwriting, here are some books that have proven edifying for me, but also note that I read most of them between ten and twenty years ago:

      The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” by Joseph Campbell
      The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers & Screenwriters,” by Christopher Vogler
      “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” “Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade,” “The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? and Other Essays,” all by William Goldman.
      Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434: The Industry's Premier Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Successful Screenplay,” by Lew Hunter
      “Writing Screenplays That Sell,” by Michael Hauge
      The Screenwriter's Bible, 6th Edition: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script,” by David Trottier

      You may also find fascinating the 1988 TV Docuseries with Joseph Campbell entitled “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth” available on Netflix.

      Personally, if I were you, I wouldn’t put too much faith or effort in the “Save the Cat” book. In my opinion, it’s a formulaic approach to writing a screenplay. It’s a lot like Syd Field’s first book, too, and in my opinion, you don’t need to read either one. Early on, I bought and read them both when they came out. It felt to me as though I had been gypped by a couple of carnival barkers and each time I ought to have bellowed to get my money back. Instead, both books were quickly given away to other aspiring screenwriters.

      The best thing you can do for yourself is to read professional screenplays wherever you can find them. Yes, they may be shooting scripts, but so what? They were produced, and the bones of the speculative script may still be apparent to the discerning eye, and the only way to acquire a discerning eye is to read a lot of professional scripts. Choose them according to what movies and screenwriting you intend to write.

      By the way, online information is okay to seek, but oftentimes I've found such material and information to be generalized and diluted to the point of being as weak as dishwater. This is done to be “safe” and so as not to incur the wrath and rants of purists and “screenwriting rule enforcers.” Also, you'll never get an error message when you open a book.
      Last edited by TigerFang; 02-05-2019, 06:36 PM.
      "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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      • #4
        Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

        MrGoodBars ...


        You say that you went to a "subpar" film school. What do you mean by that? In what way did the school let you down?


        Seriously, as a lifelong educator in a couple of very different fields, I would like to know what you wanted but did not receive. They did not tell you what books to read? Just what did you want that the school failed to deliver?


        I will tell you two things.


        First, I was not a film student. I was in a different field. In retrospect I wish I had taken advantage of what the university had to offer in film. We had a radio, TV, and film department. But I was in a different field, and I did not know at the time that I would someday have an interest in the film industry. Our school was definitely what you would call third rate by the standards that you are probably applying, but it still taught what it claimed to teach.


        Second, an acquaintance of mine (not a friend, really, but someone whom I knew) was a student at the university at the time, and I am assuming that he majored in film. He was definitely working in film for the university public relations department, and he soon after made some political campaign films for a candidate. Then he went to New York and wrote for Saturday Night Live. Then he moved to Hollywood and wrote for Eddie Murphy.


        All of this from a school that, if I overrate it a bit, was only third rate.


        So tell me, seriously now, how did the school fail you?

        "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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        • #5
          Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

          I was a Bruin, and here are my recommendations.

          Two from Howard Suber - "The Power of Film- & "Letters to Young Filmmakers: Creativity & Getting Your Films Made-

          Howard was my favorite film professor at UCLA. He has that amazing ability to speak to his students in a way that is both universal and personal. I remember talking with a directing student during one of the breaks in Howard's "Popular American Film- class, and saying, "It feels like he's talking directly to me as a writer.- My classmate responded, "I feel like he's talking to me as a director!- That's the genius of Howard Suber.

          "The Power of Film- is a marvelous book with dozens of short essays on all aspects of film. "Letters to Young Filmmakers- is another collection of short essays and/or letters, less theoretical and more practical.

          Out Of Print

          "The Hollywood Eye: What Makes Movies Work,- by Jon Boorstein, analyzes movies by how the audience perceives the experience of watching them. Parts of the book can be a bit too theoretical and abstract, but on the whole it offers a unique perspective to screenwriters. Boorstein goes in depth on what he identifies as the three "eyes-: The voyeuristic, the vicarious and the visceral.

          "Shakespeare's Game- by William Gibson is the only book on writing in the bunch. Even if you're not a fan of Shakespeare, this book can change the way you view dramatic structure. It delves into why we still read and watch Shakespeare's plays over 400 years after the bard's death.

          HTH,
          Just my 2 cents, your mileage may vary.

          -Steve Trautmann
          3rd & Fairfax: The WGAW Podcast

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          • #6
            Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

            Where to find the out-of-print books recommended by KitchonaSteve:

            “The Hollywood Eye: What Makes Movies Work,” by Jon Boorstein

            “Shakespeare’s Game,” by William Gibson

            Where to find the first two books mentioned:

            “Letters to Young Filmmakers: Creativity & Getting Your Films Made,” by Howard Suber

            “The Power of Film,” by Howard Suber
            "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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            • #7
              Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

              Also, I forgot to mention that Lew Hunter's book might be worth taking a look at. He was teaching screenwriting when I was at UCLA. I didn't take any classes with him, but friends who did really liked him.

              HTH,
              Just my 2 cents, your mileage may vary.

              -Steve Trautmann
              3rd & Fairfax: The WGAW Podcast

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              • #8
                Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

                Also recommend Akira Kurasawa's "Something like an autobiography"

                and Stephen King's "On Writing"

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                • #9
                  Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

                  Wow, thank you for all of the responses! I will definitely check out the titles you all have recommended. I already have "The Screenwriter's Bible" "On Writing" and "The Writer's Journey" so I can easily enough dive right into those. Thank you KitchonaSteve for the recommendations, I haven't heard of these before, I'm looking forward to getting any help I can with dramatic structure.

                  ComicBent, to be fair to my school, the program was just starting out and it was a general film degree BA at my state university, not a BFA specializing in any one area of filmmaking. So it was like dipping my toes in for a few years. It did at least help me decide I wanted to be a screenwriter. One of our tasks was to write a feature screenplay, but we got basically zero advanced guidance about that, except giving us some old screenplays, formatting, and telling us about the basic three act structure. But maybe that's most film schools?

                  I've written almost a dozen feature screenplays (first drafts only)...but I would just dive in with a semi-planned outline and usually finish feeling like things were missing and being unhappy with it. I realize I need to "re"learn the basics.

                  I realize one of the most helpful things I can do is read professionally scribed screenplays. I have access to some spec blacklist and hitlist scripts so I'm covered there.

                  Anyway, I moved out to LA eight years ago and I finally feel like I'm in a good place to give screenwriting my all. So much to learn yikes! Thanks everybody!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

                    Break a leg, dude.
                    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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                    • #11
                      Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

                      I'd also check out "Writing Screenplays That Sell" by Michael Hauge. Pretty comprehensive guide covering everything from starting out to thriving in the business. Also, Will Smith uses Hauge as a script consultant.
                      "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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                      • #12
                        Re: Who went to USC or UCLA?

                        I actually already have "Writing Screenplays That Sell" so I will definitely finally read it I like the advice videos that I've seen of Michael Hauge.

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