Film Writing Books & eBooks
Main Feature Film Genres & DVD’s
- Romantic Comedy
- Sports Film / Biopic
- Auteur Films
- Film Noir
- Black Comedy
Short Film DVD’s
SA Film DVD’s
Inspirations & Esoteric Books
RECOMMENDED FILM WRITING BOOKS
Most writing literature put forward here is either works I have read or comes highly recommended, one or two just look interesting … any book on film you wish to read is worth the effort. It all goes into the pile of ‘research & life experience’. Gathering information can Never be a waste of time. Happy reading!
Story. Alternative Scriptwriting. The Writers Journey. Strike Up! Structure Your First Film. The Artists Way. The Woman in the Story. Dr Format.
Robert McKee. Jeff Rush, Ken Dancyger. Christopher Vogler. Philippa J Dyer. Julia Cameron. Helen Jacey & Linda Seger. David Trottier.
SEMINAL. MUST READ. SEMINAL. MUST READ MANUAL. MORNING PAGES. ABOUT WOMEN FORMAT NB!
Hero with 1,000 faces. Aristotle’s Poetics. The Art of Adaptation. Advanced Screenwriting. Creating Unforgettable Characters. Screenplay. Screenplay Updated.
Joseph Cambell. James Hutton & Linda Seger. Linda Seger. Linda Seger. Syd Field. Linda Aronson.
PRECURSOR TO VOGLER Gordon M. Kirkwood.
Screenplay Writing the Picture. Save the Cat. Save the Cat Goes to the Movies. Save the Cat Strike’s Back. Screenwriter’s Bible. Writing Short Films. Secrets Screenplay Structure. The 3rd Act.
Robin U Russin & Blake Snyder. Blake Snyder. Blake Snyder. David Trottier. Linda J Cowgill. Linda J Cowgill. Drew Yanno.
William Missouri Downs.
Alternative Scriptwriting. Alternative Scriptwriting. Cut to the Chase. Inside the Room Writing for TV. Character Traits. Making a Good Script Great. Writing Subtext. The Screenfilm 21st C.
Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush. Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush. Linda Venis. Linda Venis. Dr. Linda Edelstein. Linda Seger. Linda Seger. Linda Aronson.
(1995 Version) (4th Ed. Rewriting Hollywood Formula)
GENRES & RECOMMENDED DVD’s
ALL films put forward here I have personally watched and love. (If I don’t like them, they’re not here! Ha). However, it might be that some have slipped through my memory bank, so speak up if you if you want me to find a copy of a particular film. I can try and source it for you. The genres … there are no absolutes, they’re my own categories. Sometimes choices have had to be made, for example, The Hurricane could be a Sports Film or a Biopic or a Prison Drama. I’ve gone with the thrust that I’ve interpreted as most prominent. So if you’re looking for writing inspiration check across all possible genres. All pictures belong to www.imbd.com, if you wish to source further information that’s a good place to start.
Romance Films are perhaps the biggest genre. Most people in the world are either looking for love, or definitely not, falling into love, out of love, recovering from love, using it as a respite, escape, or solid and trustworthy. Even in war genre films love usually finds a way to compliment the storyline. Often the love interest is a sub-plot to the main story, but if the main thrust of the film is ‘lerve’ … then it falls into the Love Romance category. “Big Genre. Huge!” (Ahem Pretty Woman). Romance in this instance is depicted by any storyline where the love story is the main element of the plot. The audience is routing for the two lovers to get together by the end. And they usually do …
Love Story. The Thing Called Love. Romeo & Juliet. Romeo & Juliet. Pretty Woman. Country Strong. Runnaway Bride. You’ve Got Mail.
The Family Man. A Walk in the Clouds. Notting Hill. Sweet November. Before Sunrise. Before Sunset. The Family Stone. First Daughter.
Most of the Love genre have a little bit of comedy as well as drama in them. There is even an emerging group called the Dramedy! The vehicle of exploration is essentially comedic in nature, but still one is routing for the lovers to fall in love in the end. There is a cross over between Romance and Romantic Comedies.
Boys, toys, guns. Goodie chases baddie. Often a women love interest is around but one doesn’t go too deeply into character here. The thrust is on the action. A big action fight in the end: car, bus, train, horse, anything fast and fierce. Fast-paced is the operative word where. Usually male leads here but notice how Angelina Jolie is creeping in there in Salt. I have included Speed here because often one gets a hibrid film, this is an action/hostage/romance drama. But I found the action changing from a car to a bus quite interesting. In this category the Hero is always the most highly skilled in his or her field, and even with a formidable opponent – of course they succeed in the end!
The main difference between Action and Adventure is that where Action is trying to track down a person … Adventure is trying to track down a ‘thing’: an artefact, a museum piece, information even, and return it to rightful owner often. There’s a moral need here of the protagonist to ‘do the right thing’. Often clues to the treasure is braced in symbols, riddles, or games. The hero also needs to be highly skilled and at the top of their game in order to oppose the force of the antagonist.
THRILLER / ESPIONAGE
There are so many genres and subgenres of the thriller category because they all involve a murder, which is usually a deliberate crime. So gangsters, crime bosses, the unhinged all come into the crime, murder, mystery, suspense, detective category. If the hero is being followed, chased or terrorized (or to catch the murderer) and we wait on tenterhooks for the duration of the whole film for the crime (murder) to happen by the end of the film – then I have identified those as Thriller/Espionage. The way I have chosen to break it down is that if the but if the murder happens at the beginning of the film then it goes into the Murder ‘Mystery to resolved’ category. In the straight thriller category, the Hero has a real possibility of being killed by the end of the film.
MURDER / MYSTERY / DETECTIVE DRAMA
The Suspense-Murder-Mystery is when the murder happens at the beginning of the film, which is usually related to the detective story. Sometimes referred to as Crime Drama. Someone has usually committed a crime in the inciting incident, and we wait for the whole film for the crime to be resolved, revenged, or put to bed somehow. One may or may not know who the murderer is, but the journey is to solve the crime.
The two categories above also often deal with crime … but I believe the crime GANGSTER drama demands a section on its own. Gangsters work in packs like wolves.
Hustle & Flow. Donnie Brasco. The Godfather. Gone in 60 Seconds. Bonnie & Clyde. The Bandits. Four Brothers.
(Thieves) (The ‘Hood’ Gang) (Drug gang) (Hip Hop drug Gang) (Mafia gang) (Car thieves gang ) (Thieves/Murderers)
Hardball Scarface Point Break Carlito’s Way Casino History Of Violence Pulp Fiction
(Neigbourhood Gangs) (Mafia Gang) (Surf gang – hybrid sport). (Drug Gang) (Mafia Drugs) (Violence Turf wars) (Violence, Race, Rape, Drugs)
If Action is known as the Male ultimate movie, the Melodrama is probably exactly the opposite. Often called the ‘Woman’s Weeper’. Well-drawn characters. Mostly the hero’s are women (not always). Melodrama used to terrify me, I thought it was all about weeping … until I understood what a melodrama was. There might be some tears (quite a lot of tears), but more importantly: the violence is emotional rather than physical. The antagonist can be a person; a social order; or an outside influence that places unreasonable constraints on the protagonist. The hero’s journey then, is to break the code of conduct of that social order. So Melodrama
then, in my opinion, can also include, medical drama’s, even battles with drugs can actually come into this genre.
A Girl Interrupted. A Dream of Passion. Kramer vs Kramer. Monster. Monster’s Ball. Erin Brokovitch. Crazy / Beautiful. Kinky Boots.
(Mental illness) (Societal Norms) (Female Obligations) (Abuse becoming twisted) (Death) (Environmental awareness) (Drink, dysfunction) (Societal ‘Rejects’)
My Sister’s Keeper Changeling Deep End of the Ocean. I’ve Loved You For So Long Jane Eyre Notes on a Scandal. Pride and Prejudice. Sense and Sensibility
(Medical Emancipation) (Societal Stigma) (Childhood Abduction) (Life After Prison) (19C romance drama) (Older Woman Affair) (18 century dramas)
The Biopic is often classified as a slightly less lavish version of the Epic, however for historical films such as Troy or Alexander the Great that does not apply. Either way the same principles apply:big budgets, big cast, often period, (which automatically raises the budget), takes place over a vast period of time. Usually the Biopic will occur when the main character has passed along, when they are honoured for their greatness, sometimes even for the first time, often death substantiating their immortality. The Biopic needs to be an interesting person of history that can hold our attention for a long time. Often they are tragic figures and very often controversial figures also!As such, the Biopic often has to take an angle on the character in question, which in turn can be controversial in slant and direction.
The King’s Speech La Vie en Rose Troy Alexander the Great Chaplin Sylvia Potter The Passion of Ayn Rand
(King George vi) (Edith Piaff) (Achillies rise to power) (Conquering Macedonia) (Charlie Chaplin) (Sylvia Plath) (Beatrix Potter) (Ayn Rand)
Walk the Line The Iron Lady In the Name of the Father Capote Enid The Aviator The Doors
(Johnny Cash) (Margaret Thatcher) (The Guildford Four) (Truman Capote) (Enid Blyton) (Howard Hughes) (Jim Morrison)
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Elizabeth 1. Malcolm X. Frida. Surviving Picasso. Great Balls of Fire. Selena. The Rat Pack.
(Robin Hood) (Elizabeth 1) (Malcolm X) (Frida Kahlo) (Pablo Picasso) (Jerry Lee Lewis) (Selena Quintallina Perez) (Based on the Rat Pack)
SPORTS FILM / BIOPIC
The Sports Film has now become an enormous genre. I’ve made it Film slash Biopic because sometimes sports films include people who are real or existing, for example The Hurricane is a real story of how Ruben Hurricane Carter was released from a prison sentence after 16 years being wrongfully accused. Invictus is the real story of how the South African rugby team won the World Cup in 1995 after Mandela’s release in 1994. A river Runs through it is a hybrid Epic about a family that bonds through fly fishing over a lengthy period of time. So the Sports genre can be a hybrid but more often than not it ends with some big event which is pertinent to that sport such as a competition or festival, some kind of celebration. Often a win or a lose situation, for example Rocky ends with the Championship match, A Knights Tale ends with a championship match, so does Girlfight, Jerry Maguire, Driven, Hardball …
The Cutting Edge The Hurricane A Knight’s Tale Point Break The Horse Whisperer Rocky Million Dollar Baby Girlfight
(Ice Skating) (Boxing – TRUE Story) (Jousting) (Surfing) (Horse Riding) (Boxing) (Boxing) (Boxing)
Chariots of Fire Jerry Maguire A River Runs Through It The Fast & the Furious Hardball Invictus Driven The Natural
(Athletics) (Baseball) (Fly Fishing) (Car Racing) (Baseball & Gambling) (Rugby – True Story) (Formula 1 Racing) (Baseball)
The term EPIC really relates to a style of film-making rather than a plot. Epics are the ultimate in movie making magic: Large sets, costumes, casts, sweeping landscapes, sweeping musical scores (designed specifically for the production), takes place over a lengthy period of time. Epics usually fall into the Biopic category, the Sports Biopic, or War dramas, demonstrated in the next two categories.There are very few clean Epics only. See if you can find more and make up your own minds … Here are a few fictional ones. Otherwise find them under Biopic or War category.
There are many people who have an indelible signature style, like John Wayne (Westerns Actor), John Ford (Westerns Director), Arthur Freed (Musicals), Alfred Hitchcock (Thriller Suspense), Errol Flynn (Romantic Adventure Swashbuckler). Here are some samples mainly modern day actors or directors that I think are great in some way with signature style.
Quentin Tarrantino. Woody Allen. Johnny Depp. Guy Ritchie. Spike Lee. Ridley Scott. Orson Welles. Stanley Kubrick
(Violent anti-violence) (Psycho spoofs) (Anti-hero) (Lose style) (Black culture) (Blade Runner Cult) (Mystery Actor) (Directing Style)
The signature of Film Noir is that it can actually be any genre, but it often relates to the Murder Mystery category because the overriding atmosphere of darkness, the look and feel. Film Noir developed out of the war period of time when people were sad, desperate, suspicious of each other. As a result the tone is dark, stark, with sharp lines and camera angles, deep shadows and contrasts. Noir means ‘black’ in French and it’s an apt term. Often powerful men wielding guns, beautiful femme fatales wielding sex as fluidly as men wield guns. The femme fatale, or honey-trap as it is commonly known, is mostly for reasons of deception, betrayal, or manipulation. Film Noir can be played out at funerals, night-clubs, in gangs, or mafia locations. There can sometimes be touches of comedy (for example, The Sting has moments of Film Noir).
The Black Dahlia. The Third Man. Harold and Maud. A Kiss Before Dying. Nikita. In Bruges. The Big Heat.
(Josh Hartnett) (Orson Welles) (Brilliantly macarbre) (Matt Dillon) (Modern Femme Fatale) (Collin Farrell) (Somebody is going to Pay…)
Maltese Falcon. The Big Sleep. Double Indemnity. Sunset Boulevard. Donnie Brasco. Wicker Park. The Big Heat.
(Humphrey Bogart) (Humphrey Bogart) (Femme fatale) (Dir: Billy Wilder) (Al Pacino/Johnny Depp) (Josh Hartnett) (Glen Ford/Gloria Grahame)
Black Comedy is different from Film Noir in that it is written specifically as a comedy. But the comedy is a bit off-beat, dark, humorous in a deep, but thought provoking way.
MUSIC / DANCE
The Dance or music category bear very little explanation – they’re joyous, lift the spirit, usually end with an up ending, also can end in a performance, festival or celebration of some kind – generally the feeling is uplifting, even if it’s down its up (e.g. Black Swan.)
The Company Save the Last Dance Country Strong Bootmen Coyote Ugly Honey Step Up
Dance With Me Dirty Dancing Havanna Nights. White Nights. Shout. Greece. Saturday Night Fever.
Black Swan. Center Stage. Take the Lead Music From the Heart Tap August Rush Across the Universe
Prison Dramas are becoming a huge category and as such might be forming their own genre. Real or fictional people have their own stories to tell of whether they were rightly or wrongly convicted, how the escaped the Law, and whether that law was ‘fair’ to them or not. Often they take a moral stance on the hero’s position, sometimes they can be real stories too. Notice how people in prisons are not only men. Women are developing their own take on prison dramas. Sometimes this category demands legal eagle dramas … or some kind of legal aid assistance.
Need I say more, drugs are a huge chunk or what makes up the modern western world. It’s not surprising that several of these stories have emerged. Also be aware that drugs can contain any addictions, including alcohol or pills. So for example, House (The lead character) is addicted to pills for pain. This can be just as debilitating as any other drugs and in fact more sly and difficult to determine because they are often prescription drugs.
The objective of Horror is to TERRIFY! PETRIFY! UNNERVE! SHATTER! It explores our most ghastly traits and existentialist fears of the unknown. Set in spooky mansions or dark locations with serial killers or vampires, Horror preys on our most primal fears and paranoias, you either ‘get it’ or you don’t. The violence is often escalated to such ridiculous heights that you have to laugh, so they can be called dark comedies. Teenagers dig screaming with their friends and laughing their heads off. … There’s a time and a place for horror. I wouldn’t suggest watching on your own though! Tread carefully or you’ll tread on your dreams … Often amplified by CGI and film noir techniques to depict with satanic rituals and characters like Dracula, Frankenstein:
Nightmare in Elm Street. Scream. From Dusk Till Dawn. Alien. Interview with the vampire. Blair Witch Project. The Exorcist. Shining. Texas Chainsaw Massare. Lyfstraf.
War dramas are self-explanatory. War is something that has happened or is happening in many countries all over the world and will continue to be a source of debate and controversy. War dramas are the only genre where ‘the most extreme’ is acceptable by all standards. So the most exptreme forms of violence and emotions occur in war dramas. War can be seen also as Epics. Have a look at Gone with the Wind, Reds, The Patriot, Braveheart, often huge sets, huge budgets. If you haven’t seen it before … watch The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Not a huge budget, Irish film, but one of the saddest and most poignant you’ll ever see. And if you haven’t seen some oldies, The Eagles Dare, Casablanca, do yourselves a favour … Being one of the most difficult geners to portray authentically because of the extreme behaviours of the genre, Platoon, The Pianist, Glory, The Last Samurai! There’s so much in this genre to learn from and enjoy with good solid storytelling techniques and poignancy. Enjoy!
Gone with the Wind. Hart’s War. Pearl Habour. The Patriot. Braveheart. Beyond Borders. Blood Diamond.
Saving Private Ryan. GI Jane. Stop-Loss. Courage Under Fire. Reds. The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Platoon.
These are just a snippet of Shorts that I found that resonated with me, partly because of either the reason why they were created. or the people that created them finally became very famous. So do not underestimate the power of a short. They can show talent for a fraction of the cost and can be useful in the long run. They will be added to along the way.
Storekeeper. Paperman. Wooden Camera. The Lunch Date. Bad Santa. (Billy Bob)
(Brilliant. How Gav Hood raised funds for Tsotsi) (2013 Oscar Winner) (SA director Ntshavheni wa Luruli 2013) (Adam Davidson (Greys Anatomy) student film) (Xmas Card to cause a sensation – it did!)
Alive in Joburg. Multi-facial. The Big Shave. Doodlebug. Freiheit.
(Raised Exposure for District 9) (Vin Diesel) (Martin Scorsese Student film) (Christopher Nolan student film) (George Lucas (Star Wars) student film)
South African Films are not widely celebrated all over the world and often pictures or information is hard to come by. The face of SA Film though is changing. We will continue to develop this section. Here are some of the best …
Blood Diamond. Road to Mecca. Cry the Beloved Country. Drum. Country of my Skull. Cry Freedom. Come Back Africa.
ESOTERIC & INSPIRATIONAL OTHER THINGS
As a writer you need soul inspiration from time to time, or maybe you just want to sit
under a tree for a while and peruse. I found all these resources useful at different times
depending on my needs.
The Artist’s Way. In the Realms of Angels. Da Vinci Code. Goddess Cards. Celestine Prophecy. The Secret. Unsinkable. Law of Attraction Plain and Simple.
For creatives. For believers. Scientific? 40 amazing goddesses. Ancient spiritual insights. Law of Attraction. Sonia Ricotti Insights.
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