Most Popular Lists at ScreenplayLists

There are a lot of lists on ScreenplayLists.com, and we're always adding more. While some are lucky to get a passing glance every few weeks, others are constantly getting read. So, what are the most popular screenplay lists?

It's no surprise that Woody Allen holds the top spot. The guy's been writing films for 50 years, he won 3 Oscars for Best Original Screenplay, and...he's Woody Allen, possibly the only household name in the screenwriting biz. 

Here are the top 10 most popular lists:

1. WOODY ALLEN

2. COEN BROTHERS

3. QUENTIN TARANTINO

4. DAVID LYNCH

5. WES ANDERSON

6. STANLEY KUBRICK

7. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN

8. WILLIAM GOLDMAN

9. CHARLIE KAUFMAN

10. COMEDY SCREENPLAYS

Runners up to the top 10 include: Top Romance Screenplays, Top Horror Screenplays, and Top Crime Screenplays. Way down towards the bottom of our list of most visited screenplays, there's Sci-Fi scripts. Apparently not many people are interested in reading the scripts for Star Wars, The Matrix, or Inception? That's doubtful... We'll just go ahead and name Top Sci-Fi Screenplays as our most underrated list. 

Trashy Screenwriter Spotlight: John Waters

John Waters Screenwriter

Even if you love him, chances are you don't think of him as a screenwriter. It's more likely you think of him as a "filmmaker," or simply as John Waters--a personality too grand for a single job title.

In his book, Role Models, John Waters says he doesn't have hobbies. Hobbies? Please! He doesn't do something as a hobby; everything he does, he does all the way.

So the fact that John Waters happens to have written screenplays shouldn't be taken lightly. Despite his immaculate personality, his status as a culture icon, and his mustache, he is indeed a serious screenwriter.

Great screenwriters are very often great writers of prose, too. See: William Goldman. See also: Joan Didion. Same goes for John Waters, who has written a number of highly entertaining, witty, and even enlightening books. His prose is incredibly reader-friendly and personable, to the point where you even feel like you know the guy after just a few pages. Few writers can pull that off.

Our personal favorite: Carsick. But now, as for his screenplays...

The Pope of Trash as Screenwriter

John Waters Screenwriter Pink Flamingos

So begins the script for Pink Flamingos. And the weirdness doesn't let up. Just as with his books, his screenplays (even the weird ones) are surprisingly accessible and enjoyable to read.

It's not easy finding quality versions of his scripts online. If you find any, let us know! However, his works are available in paperback. You can pick up a used copy from Amazon for about $4. Not bad! We recommend these two:

We have Cry-Baby on our reading list. Looks like the best place to pick up a copy for this is eBay. Although it seems more appropriate to pick up a John Waters script in a dusty second-hand store. Anyone want to join us for a weekend John Waters screenplay scavenger hunt?

10 Screenplay Terms, Defined by Urban Dictionary

Action: Sexual activity. Hey, you get any action last night? 

Backstory: Euphemism for bootyGuy sees ass related fan service: "look at all that backstory."

Beat: A lame situation. Man, this party is beat! 

Dialogue: The conversations that you have with someone after you have known them FOREVER, and have absolutely NOTHING left to talk about. "Conversations" imply two way, thoughtful, communication. "Dialogue" could be spouted out by a parrot and be the same. 

flashbackWhen the person you've flashed has flashed you back, presumably in the same method in which you flashed him/her. I was just screwing around when I flashed her--but I never expected a flashback!

Hero: Someone who gets a lot of OTHER people killed. 

Montage: A video put on youtube showing off your "skills" on games. Usually people who make these vids just edit out all 300 other failed shots till they get the right one. Montagers also hate hitmarkers. Hate them.

Plot: What Twilight doesn’t have.

Scene: A culture made mostly of teenagers and is relatable to emo. It is a culture derived to reject the "norm."

Screen Play: Someone engaged in thumbing around the screen of their phone. Hillary laughed uproariously as she was lost in screen play.

Joan Didion - a Literary Celebrity as Screenwriter

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Shout out to New Republic for their recent article, How Joan Didion Became the Ultimate Literary Celebrity. There was only one problem with the article: the word "screenwriting" only appeared once in passing. No overview of Didion's career as a writer is complete without paying proper respects to the five screenplays she co-wrote.

Joan Didion started writing screenplays relatively early in her career as a novelist. In 1971, she was 37 when her screenplay The Panic in Needle Park came out as an award-winning film starring young Al Pacino.

As with her other scripts, Needle Park was co-written by her husband, John Gregory Dunne. Together, Didion and Dunne fit within a rather high-brow class of screenwriters. While many of the screenwriter ilk came from a world of standup comedy or low-budget film production, Didion and Dunne come from a the world of academia and top-tier literature.

Acknowledging Didion's literary background isn't necessarily a complement--not in terms of screenwriting cred. Usually when a prestigious author delves into writing scripts, the outcome is less than amazing (sorry, Steinbeck; sorry Dave Eggers!).

Joan Didion hasn't exactly had the greatest success with her scripts, either. Her success as a screenwriter obviously hasn't compared to her accomplishments as a novelist and essayist. But Didion's scripts have contributed to some quality films. As with her novels, the films she's contributed to are richly human, culturally relevant, and "literary" in nature.

...If only we could read her actual scripts! We seem to have failed to find any of her scripts online. There are a few clues suggesting that some of her scripts have appeared in print at some time or another. But we haven't been able to locate print copies, either. If anyone out there knows where we can find a copy of a Joan Didion screenplay, let us know! Until then, we can still watch the films:

 

Should You Pay for a Script Consultant?

Should You Pay for a Script Consultant

The short answer is no, you shouldn't. Or, if you do, don't expect to get your money's worth.

This may sound overly skeptical, but it's unlikely that the advice you receive from a script consultant will be worth the price. If you want to improve your screenplay as best as possible, there are far cheaper alternatives.

Paying upwards of $300 for someone's advice is fundamentally a little desperate, even if you have the money. It's true that using a script consultant will be a good learning experience. A least, for example, you'll learn how easy it is to be ripped off bypeople claiming to help you write better.

Consider for a moment the ever-growing industry that hopes to profit off would-be screenwriters. Even the best intentioned script consultants secretly laugh all the way to the bank as they provide generally obvious advice to eager novices.

Before you fork over a bunch of money to a script consultant, werecommended that you first:

Fix Your Script Yourself

Be your own best editor by putting the time in. Write a number of scripts (say, at least five), and edit each one as if someone were paying you $300 to do it.

Anecdote: A friend of mine worked for several years at Apple's in-store help desk. Most of his customers were middle-aged women who were educated and intelligent, albeit not terribly tech-savvy. After determining the nature of the problem, my friend would ask, "What would you do to fix this?" They would respond "I don't know," but he would push them to do the thing they thought most logical.

Nine times out of ten, they would end up fixing the problem themselves when forced to take some action. This is to say, they knew the answer all along, they were just too hesitant to take the corrective action because they didn't consider themselves to be "experts."

Take this to heart when editing your screenplay. Sure, an expert could help you fix your third act issue, but I'd be willing to bet that you already know the answer yourself. After all, you've already trained for this moment by watching countless films and probably even by reading Robert McKee's Story or other screenwriting books.

Cheaper, Better Alternatives to Script Consultants

If you need outside advice from somewhat non-partial people:

1. Join a screenwriting Meetup group. If you live in a big city, you can probably find one. If you can't find a Meetup group in your area, start one. From my experience, random people at screenwriter Meetups are more than happy to tear a script to pieces, even more brutally and expertly than high-priced consultants.

2. Sign up for a screenplay workshop or a class at a local college. Screenplay workshops often cost a decent amount of money, but, unlike consultants, they're worth the cost. Rather than being handed down notes from a single person, you'll receive feedback and support from a number of peers and also an instructor of some kind. These exist even outside LA. For example, in San Francisco, a quality screenwriting workshop is hosted at The Grotto.

3. Find low-cost script analysis services. By searching around online, you'll find a number of alternatives to high-priced consultants. For example, SellingYourScreenplay.com by screenwriter Ashley Scott Meyers offers a script analysis service starting at only $67 bucks per script (or less, if you sign up for having three scripts analyzed).

If you still decide you'd like advice from a full-priced industry consultant, proceed with caution. Start out by listening the the consultant's podcast (see: Best Screenwriting Podcasts). If the consultant has written a book, check that out, too. If you decide you that don't share similar aesthetic values with the consultant, then you probably won't fully appreciate--or grow from--their advice.

Essential Books on Screenwriting

If you're serious about writing screenplays, the best book for you is the one that gives you inspiration rather than fear or some other negative reaction. It’s possible you’ll pick up Story and think, “So much for screenwriting! I’m going back to writing free form poetry!”

It's good to find your own favorite screenwriting book, but it's probably a good idea to read or at least skim through them all. There are nuggets of wisdom each of these:

1. SCREENPLAY: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. This book isn't exactly cutting edge, but it's solid. You may not be enlightened by Syd Field's classic, but you won't be disappointed, either. If you've written screenplays for a while, you probably already own this.

 

2. STORY by Robert McKee. If you don't want to spend thousands of dollars attending the famous McKee conference, pick up his book. Although a little dry and perhaps unnecessarily detailed, it offers such a wealth of info that it's easily worth the price.

 

3. CREATING BLOCKBUSTERS! by Gene Del Vecchio. Although this isn't a standard classic for screenwriters, it offers a perspective that is rarely addressed. Namely: it helps you develop story ideas that are genuinely marketable -- and it does this without completely devaluing the fact that stories are important cultural artifacts (works of art).

 

4. THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING by Lajos Egri. While focusing on the construction of plays, this highly regarded book is valuable to all types of storytellers, including screenwriters. If you've ever taken any screenwriting classes workshops, you'll know that this is a favorite among teachers.

 

5. THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES by Joseph Campbell. Want something a little more academic? This is it. This book has probably had more cultural impact than all the other screenwriting books put together. In fact, it's the basis for many of the others. It's a bit dense but highly recommended.

 

6. SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder. If you've heard of only one screenwriting book, this is probably it. Some people swear by it; others hate it. I'd say it's a little overrated and the thrust of the book has been so widely disseminated that's it's almost unnecessary to read. Then again, there are those who swear by it...

 

7. WRITING MOVIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT by Thomas Lennon & Robert Garrant. The title and cover image say a lot about this book: it's a bit over the top. It's also surprisingly well written and includes a bunch of common sense hints and tips that I haven't seen anywhere else. If you just slogged through Joseph Campbell's writing, this light-reading masterpiece may be just want you need to read next to cure your aching and overloaded head.