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The High-Concept Massacre: Genre Screenwriters Tell All! Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on June 6, 2016
 



Author: Jose Prendes

Publisher: BearManor Media

ISBN: 978-1-59393-940-3



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Author: Jose Prendes

Publisher: BearManor Media

ISBN: 978-1-59393-940-3

Unless you are a passionate film connoisseur you probably never heard of Carl Gottlieb, the screenwriter of Jaws, Jaws 2, The Jerk and Jaws 3-D or Shane Bitterling who wrote Beneath Loch Ness? These are only two of the thirteen writers interviewed by Jose Prendes which he records in his The High-Concept Massacre: Genre Screenwriters Tell All!

Prendes in his opening remarks quotes screenwriter, Paul Schrader who appropriately describes screenplays as follows: “ I could be just a writer very easily, I am not a writer. I am a screenwriter, which is half a filmmaker...but it is not an art form, because screenplays are not works of art. They are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art.”

Prendes goes on to further this description when he states: “it is the screenwriters that make the actual stuff that dreams are made of as without words, people like Brad Pitt or Audrey Hepburn are just well-put-together pretty faces.” Unfortunately, these individuals are the least appreciated and when you compare what others earn in the film industry, they are at the bottom of the salary ladder.

The thirteen candid interviews included in the book provide valuable information revealing some interesting tidbits. In addition, Prendes doesn't evade asking probing questions that readers look for when perusing a book of this nature. For example, many of us have seen Jaws and probably its sequels, however, do we know how Gottlieb, who had been a comedy writer, end up writing the script? How about the typical paycheck a screenwriter can expect, which Rolfe Kanefsky, who wrote There's Nothing Out There, The Hazing and Nightmare Man, deals with in detail who recounts that in 1996 he had been paid six thousand dollars a script for the late-night erotic stuff. However, a few years later, he was paid three thousand dollars and the industry as a whole started to change to where you were not getting paid a fair compensation. The question of pitches comes up in the interview with Sean Keller, writer of Mammoth, Giallo and Rage, where he is asked is a television pitch similar to a feature pitch in terms of delivering content? Other topics that come up in these interviews include the use of pen names and pseudonyms, the difficulties in making movies, the relationship between screenwriter and director, important elements of screenwriting, tackling characters in a script, and many other invaluable topics.

These are only a few examples of the broad selection of screenwriters from the well-known to the lesser known who share their vast experiences and provide the reader with a valuable learning tool. As Prendes mentions, not everyone's career is the same, but nonetheless there are striking similarities to the ebb and flow of the business.

Overall, these extensive interviews is an essential addition to ­the library of anyone interested in screenwriting and what actually goes on behind the scenes.