Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Save the Cat" or your Cash?

Over the summer I read a book that has been remarked on by many as one of the most valuable tools in a up an coming filmmakers arsenal Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Now I bought this book seeking primarily because the idea of learning what you needed to know to write a screenplay confused me a little bit. I always thought that our ability to tell stories is ancient and innate in nature, and therefore to me a published guide, a well received one at that, really took me by surprise

The book is a quick and easy read written in a conversational and lighthearted tone, and each pointer Snyder provides he is easily able to link to multiple outside examples.

The book definitely gives away a few really helpful tips on story boarding and designing characters, but there was one part that I really took issue with.

A few chapters in Snyder lays out a "Beat Sheet" listing every critical event that has to happen in a film in order for it to sell. The list included almost every element in modern movies that I though was overly cliche. Shoe horned love stories, fun mid movie montages, one liner laced dialogue, it all seemed to be so very lazy.

While admit having strong characters and conflicts are essential to any film, I believe whole heatedly that the best scripts don't come from cookie cutter molds like the one found in don't save the cat, but rather are discovered organically by the writer of the film through there own creative process.

So overall I'd say that Save the Cat is a very useful and insightful book, that should definitely be read by anyone considering screenplay writing as a serious profession, but at the same time I'd add that the book is quick to offer ideas, especially when it comes to  story structure, that come across as fairly lazy.

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