Book Review: "Writing Movies for Fun and Profit"

A Night at the Museum screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon announce with the title, they don’t care about making Oscar movies or “good” movies. They want to earn a living as working screenwriters, a luxury in a city where every waiter is either an actor, a screenwriter “working on my first film,” or some mix of that. When I read Thomas Lennon was from Oak Park, Illinois, I said:

  • He is automatically better for no reason other than being from Illinois. My regular rule.

  • This explains A LOT. Illinois isn’t “the Midwest.” It’s “the New York of the Midwest,” with everyone laying things out as they are in dry humor as we tell you the scary truth. That. Is. This. Book.

    The book description is pretty good.

This is the only screenwriting guide by two guys who have actually done it (instead of some schmuck who just gives lectures about screenwriting at the airport Marriott)...
— book info

The number of times I have this year come across screenwriting “script doctors” and “experts” with like, one or two shorts? A lot. One is a “famous” one who had a short film almost two decades ago. I’m willing to pay Ben Affleck for my script review. Something about that shiny Oscar for his screenwriting appeals to me as in, “What if he knows what he is doing enough to help you?” Someone with one short? Probably not. Thank goodness for a book by guys who are working screenwriters. They might not write the material you want to write. They will tell you how to make money. And unless you want to be poor, you probably need money to further your career to make the work you enjoy. All good.

Some stuff in the book is very “I know this.” Some not. They take you through the basics of how to get stuff done. No other screenwriting book, no Save the Cat, no schoolwork you can find, has that written out like a friend might tell you. “It’s a harsh world,” Dakota Fanning says in Uptown Girls, as this book brings you that harsh world crashing down on your reality.

I wouldn’t rank this book as number one on a top screenwriting books list. You might want to learn how to write screenplays beautifully before advancing to the rest. Fifth place? Sure. We all need a reality check. Nobody else thus far has been willing to be this honest.

Not pictured: the actual book. The book cover with bikini ladies doesn’t reflect the small points of business savvy scattered throughout. Slip a cover on it so you can read it at work in peace and enjoy.