Thursday, September 10, 2009


From Film International:

The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out!, Susan Kouguell
New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 288pp., ISBN-13: 978-0312355753 (pbk), $14.95
For those that are considering or already dabbling in the craft of writing screenplays there are some names that recur with astounding regularity: Syd Field, Lew Hunter, Robert McKee and Dr Linda Seger. Yet even if one cracks the spine of any number of books dedicated to creating a screenplay to actually write a screenplay, then what happens after the celebratory glass of champagne has gone flat? What do you do after you’ve written the screenplay?

You may not have heard of her… yet. Her name is Susan Kouguell. She is not simply an academic that is teaching screenwriting without ever having swum in the murky and mercurial waters of Hollywood. Kougell is an award-winning screenwriter, producer and script consultant who has had stints with Miramax, Paramount Pictures and working with Louis Malle. The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) without Selling Out is a manual to guide aspiring screenwriters on what they need to know and do after they have typed FADE OUT on their final draft.

Do not be fooled by the slimness of this text. Kouguell demystifies the key components and players involved in the road to getting one’s screenplay noticed and sold in the entertainment industry. The Savvy Screenwriter reveals to readers how movie executives and story analysts approach new material and writers. Unsure of whether your script is really finished? The Savvy Screenwriter provides a checklist. Don’t know how to get an agent? It’s in there. Don’t know how to pitch anything other than a baseball? Not to worry, Kouguell’s book is able to help.

Kouguell’s writing style exhibits candour yet is forthright and this approach is perfect for communicating the practical advice that she has gleaned from navigating through Hollywood. She shares some of her not-so-great moments when she was starting out in the industry and what she learned from them. Quite simply, Kouguell’s text shows the reader how the entertainment industry works and how the screenwriter fits within this ecological system.

The Savvy Screenwriter supports the practical advice by complementing it with detailed explanations and examples of common industry documents and terminology such as coverage, release forms, option agreements and ‘pay or play’. The appendices contain a thorough list of online and offline resources, from organisations to trade publications, to prepare readers before they buy their one-way tickets to Los Angeles.

Whilst it would have been an added bonus to know the screenplays that Kouguell deems essential reading, the exclusion is understandable as her focus is squarely on how to make it in Hollywood as a new screenwriter. The Savvy Screenwriter is a welcome companion to other screenwriting texts.

Contributor details
Deirdre Devers is a researcher of screen cultures, specifically digital games and film. When she's not watching films, she's watching gamers at play or writing about people's interactions with the screen

No comments:

Post a Comment