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Author: Dr. Linda Seger
Book Review by Matthew Terry
Published by: Michael Wiese Productions
ISBN: 978-1-932907-38-4

Did you know that in the early drafts of "Shakespeare in Love" it was about Will struggling with his homosexuality? Did you know that "Sideways" was written in book form originally based on ideas first implanted in the authors brain in 1990?

Dr. Linda Seger has done it again. She's made another great and accessible book about the screenwriting industry by going to the script's roots after seeing what fruit the script brought forth (wealth, fame and an Academy Award).

You see them at your book store. Screenplays in print. I bought the screenplay to "Gangs of New York" in book form for $1 at the Dollar Store. But, most likely, what you find when you buy a book about a screenplay containing a screenplay is no story behind how it became a screenplay. That is what this book is about. Or, as the subtitle says: "Learning From the Winners: Sideways, Shakespeare in Love, Crash."

This is where the book excels. This is what this book offers that no other book does. And then some... Not only does it take you into the story of how the script got turned into a film, but Dr. Seger had access to early drafts, to see how the script was transformed into what was eventually put on the screen. Interviews with the writers, directors, the major players as to how writing partnerships worked, what the director put in, how scenes were re-written or removed entirely. And some of the struggles to achieve the eventual success.

Why these three scripts? Well, first, they are all winners of the Academy Award. But Dr. Seger chose them for particular reasons. "Sideways" for how it approached a "Road Movie" type of film in a different way, a simple film in a complex way. "Shakespeare in Love" for the struggle to get a very unique film made, how the creative process worked. And "Crash" for how it tackled its overall theme through different paths, different story lines and multiple characters.

Then, if that weren't enough, she takes it another step forward including dialogue, pages and pages of insightful commentary and then, finally with writing out the story beats for each script. She has taken script analysis to another level.

If I had any issue about this book, it is that she chose scripts written by multiple people. Granted, no lone screenwriter ends up with working alone - it's his vision along with a myriad of others, but it would have been nice if she found an award winning script by a sole author and the struggles that one author had to endure to get the script written and made.

This is an excellent book on screenwriting but now I'm waiting for the companion book: "And the Razzie for Worst Screenplay Goes To..." I would LOVE to hear how Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (authors of "Sideways") went on to write a universally reviled film: "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" My guess is that Adam Sandler had something to do with it...


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