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Published by Lone Eagle Publishing Company
ISBN: 1-58065-062-7

Book Review By Matthew Terry

Please note: This is a continuation of a series of book reviews that don't necessarily discuss the ins-and-outs or pros-and-cons of screenwriting. These deal with the business end of Hollywood. I call these reviews KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE.

The nickname, the last I heard, was still considered derogatory, although it's my understanding that it is still commonly used in the hallways of Hollywood. That nickname is "D-Girl," as in "The D-Girl brought me this script to read after giving it some coverage." What is a "D-Girl?" A D-Girl is a person, not necessarily female, who works in development on the studio ladder. They're the ones who first see your screenplay, who may read it and provide coverage, and who work closely with producers looking for the next great script and writer. They then help guide your script through the world of development (hell?) until it becomes a film or goes into turnaround. The bottom line is, this person is VERY powerful, so you should bow down to them when you meet them (or at least buy them a drink or two or five).

Rona Edwards and Monika Skerbelis have worked in development for years. Though both have toiled for the major studios, Rona is more familiar with independent filmmakers, while Monika deals with more commercial projects. Together, they've written an entertaining, informative book.

The book is divided into two parts. The first provides a great understanding (with wonderful illustrative cartoons) of what goes on in the world of Development. If you are looking for an internship and want to learn the system from the ground up, the first 100 pages of "I Liked It, Didn't Love It" is a great place to start. In fact, anyone who has ambitions of writing, producing or even acting could benefit from these pages. They give a clear view of the process of coverage and how to approach working with studio execs, production companies and the like. Also included are excellent examples of coverage. It's a great job of showing the journey -- usually an up-hill-climb -- that a script inevitably takes.

The second half of the book targets the writer. Excellent chapters include subjects on pitching, writing contests, networking ideas, and writing techniques. Though a lot of this may be pertinent to an up-and-coming development person, I really felt that the last 70 pages, or so, are devoted solely to the writer.

The authors sprinkle the pages with specific resources and good honest feedback. For instance, they suggest which contests to enter, list a number of helpful websites to visit, including www.hollywoodlitsales.com, provide examples of good loglines, and end each chapter with a decisive conclusion and an exercise. They also discuss and even encourage giving TV writing a try (many books vehemently discourage this) and provide a structural breakdown for a made-for-TV movie. (Note: A two-hour MOW -- movie of the week -- has seven acts, not three).

This is an excellent book for screenwriters. Ms. Edwards and Ms. Skerbelis pepper their pages with a number of tools and suggestions to get you thinking, and they push you towards that goal of selling a screenplay and then watching as it get developed.

The authors call the development process "hell," and though it certainly can be hellish, these D-girls do a great job of showing why that is, what's involved, and why it may take a long time to achieve success.


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