PERFORMING ARTS

Naked Screenwriting: Twenty-Two Oscar-Winning Screenwriters Bare Their Secrets to Writing

Limelight: Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2021. 528p. ISBN 9781538137956. pap. $39.95. FILM
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Screenwriting manuals typically walk readers through key structural elements and techniques, using famous scenes as their guide. Here, however, screenwriters Hunter (Univ. of California, Los Angeles) and Gifford provide a wonderful collection of interviews with 22 Oscar-winning screenwriters, mostly conducted in front of an audience of students and professors as part of Hunter’s UCLA graduate course. Legendary writers such as Francis Ford Coppola, William Goldman, Oliver Stone, Callie Khouri, and Billy Wilder move between anecdotal stories and the minutiae of a writer’s process, with a healthy dose of insider information on the business side of Hollywood screenwriting. The only failing of the book may be a lack of editing. Much in these conversations seems irrelevant to the book’s focus, and the questions and chapter prefaces occasionally distract from the matter at hand. Yet in the end, the guidance of these 22 writers far outweighs this flaw.
VERDICT A clever and original look at the art of screenwriting.

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