Copying the masters…

In the READING ROOM sub-pages below, I’m including .pdf versions of some of the FILMS or TELEVISION scripts I’ve written over the years.  One of the best teachers in the art of Story and learning how to write screenplays is OTHER PEOPLE’S SCRIPTS.  Especially produced scripts.

This is a concept that has been an accepted form of teaching in the world of Art for thousands of years. It’s called “Copy the Master.”  It doesn’t mean literally to “copy,” but to draw inspiration, style, technique from the experts in the field of art you aspire to.  If you can picture a painting class, all the students are sitting at their canvasses while the Master, or teacher, is at the front of the class doing what?  Painting on his/her canvass. What are the students doing?  They are “copying the master,” mimicking his style and technique. Since the beginning of time, the idea is for the student to copy the master, but bring himself to the canvass (or script page) in order to surpass the master. Even Michelangelo was in his Master’s class in the Medici School.  Make sense?

Before I write any new project, I prime the pump creatively for myself by reading five great screenplays by “master” screenwriters.  That is, the Greats.  The Horton Footes, Robert Bolts, Robert Townes and William Goldmans of this world, to name a few.  I read them to see how they nail scenes, how they escalate the action, how they introduce characters, how they weave character and plot together at act breaks. And then I try to go and do likewise on the project I am writing.

I don’t in any way put my own work in the category of the above greats. I include my stuff here because I hope it will be educational in some way, and many of most of my scripts have, in fact, been produced, so somebody saw merit in them and spend a lot of money on them.  However, I still consider myself a fellow student in art class, so feel free to look over my shoulder and read whatever you like.

I’m also including two more sub-pages of reading .pdfs.  One for the projects that I’m still working on and are in various stages of COMING to fruition… Lord-willing.  And another for busted projects, a page I’m calling DEVELOPMENT H*LL. That is, projects I got paid to write, but that ended up not being produced, and are more than likely never to be produced. Every produced writer has some of those in his career quiver.

Please also visit my STORE where you will find lots of screenwriting and filmmaking books, as well as published screenplays that I recommend for your study — all available to order.

Maybe it goes without saying, but please don’t try to sell or stage any of these scripts. The networks or studios or production companies that hired me to work on them might frown on that, and their lawyers would send me and you annoying, nasty letters.

Okay, enjoy.  You can navigate to the various .pdf reading pages below:





3 Replies

  1. Alistair Merryman

    Hey Brian,

    Thanks for posting this! It’s great to find these kinds of sites online I really appreciate your work in putting it together for newbies like me!


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