Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Do those who can't, teach?

A work colleague who also writes just came back from a Robert McKee Story Seminar in London. I have mixed feelings about McKee and other screenwriting gurus. On the one hand, would I like to see the grand theatrical event that is a Story Seminar? Yep! Do I really think he is God's gift to screenwriting? No.

Granted, Story is an excellent book on the world of script. But McKee himself has only had one film actually made. He's sold a lot more than that, but they've never been filmed. So what can we deduce from this? Is he a man who knows a lot about screenwriting and very little about selling cinematic screenplays? Is he a teacher, not a scriptwriter?

I had a the same reservations about the late great Blake Snyder, who admittedly had had a lot more than one film made. He, too, seemed to have sold a lot of scripts that hadn't been made. But is this just realistic? Perhaps most screenwriters would regard a lot of script sales as a success, even if their work never hit cinemas?

Personally, I'd love to see a much-produced screenwriter write a book on the subject of scripts. Why haven't William Goldman, Shane Black or John August written books on writing great screenplays? 

Is it because they are out there, doing it? Is it really true that those who can't, teach?

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