Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!

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Overview

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); “These guys are proof that with no training and little education, ANYONE can make it as a screenwriter” (Paul Rudd).

Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s movies have made over a billion dollars at the box office—and now they show you how to do it yourself! This book is full of secret insider information about ...

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Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!

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Overview

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); “These guys are proof that with no training and little education, ANYONE can make it as a screenwriter” (Paul Rudd).

Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s movies have made over a billion dollars at the box office—and now they show you how to do it yourself! This book is full of secret insider information about how to conquer the Hollywood studio system: how to write, pitch, structure, and get drunk with the best of them. Well…maybe not the best of them, but certainly the most successful. (If you’re aiming to win an Oscar, this is not the book for you!) But if you can type a little, and can read and speak English—then you too can start turning your words into stacks of money!

This is the only screenwriting book you will ever need (because all other ones pretty much suck). In these pages, Garant and Lennon provide the kind of priceless tips you won’t find anywhere else, including:

• The art of pitching
• Getting your foot in the door
• Taking notes from movie stars
• How to get fired and rehired
• How to get credit and royalties!

And most important: what to buy with the huge piles of money you’re going to make!

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit will take you through the highs and lows of life as a professional screenwriter. From the highs of hugging Gisele Bündchen and getting kung fu punched by Jackie Chan to the soul-crushing lows of Herbie: Fully Loaded.

Read this book and you’ll have everything you need to make your first billion the old-fashioned way—by “selling out” in show business!

A portion of the authors’ proceeds from this book are being contributed to the USO of Metropolitan Washington, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to serving active duty military members and their families in the greater Washington, DC, region.

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  • Writing Movies for Fun and Profit
    Writing Movies for Fun and Profit  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These two guys are the reason Night at the Museum won so many Oscars"
—Ben Stiller

"These guys are proof that with no training and little education, ANYONE can make it as a screenwriter."
—Paul Rudd

“These guys probably ripped off everything in this book just like they do in all their screenplays. That would explain why it’s actually kind of good.”
—Ed Helms

“Tom and Ben are two of the writers currently working in Hollywood. I can add they make a ‘profit’ on each of their writing jobs, as I believe they have very little overhead. Therefore, they are clearly qualified to write this book. Having not read it, I can tell you that it is uproariously funny, perhaps the best book on writing ever."
—Zak Penn, Film Screenwriter & Director

"Tom and Ben's valuable insight into writing for a Volkswagen bug and creating the ‘Lawrence of Arabia of Ping Pong films’ make this book far more informative to the young dramatist than the vastly over-rated ‘Aristotle's Poetics.’"
—Jonathan Glickman, Film Producer, President of MGM, Motion Picture Group

“Ben and Tom are a great fit for me. I love working with talented writers and then telling people everything was my idea. This is a great book, that I pitched to them a while back... I'm thrilled that they finally got around to writing it.”
—Danny DeVito

“Some screenwriters have a knack for capturing the heart and soul of characters, the nuance of themes, the richness of the human experience. And some are like Tom and Ben.”
—Shawn Levy
, Film Director & Producer

Library Journal
Garant and Lennon are best known as the creators and stars of Reno 911. Their credits include screenwriting Night at the Museum, The Pacifier, and Taxi, to which they can add authoring the first screenwriting manual that is as entertaining as it is informative. Names are dropped (riotously abruptly in the cases of Billy Crystal and Sandra Bernhard), war stories are told (Herbie Fully Loaded went from original concept to cinematic disaster via one executive), and lunches with Jackie Chan are had (the book's anecdotal apex). What is most impressive is the practical advice mixed in among the aforementioned. Readers learn rudimentary structure, formatting, and the requisite work ethic (type until you get carpal tunnel syndrome). Garant and Lennon also include information about Swiss chalets, foreign sports cars, and five-star restaurants in the Eiffel Tower for when readers hit it big. VERDICT A unique combination of the practical and the whimsical makes this an essential addition to the screenwriting manual canon.—John Frank, Los Angeles P.L.
Kirkus Reviews

A hilarious and helpful insider's guide to launching a successful writing career in Hollywood.

The co-creators of the TV series Reno 911 and such films as Night at the Museum Garant and Lennon take a gut-busting stab at the published world in their first book. Unapologetically designed as "a guide to writing hit movies that make you and the studio piles of money," the authors offer invaluable advice that much of Hollywood would shudder to reveal. And they would know—the pair has grossed "$1,467,015,501.00 and counting at the box office." Garant and Lennon take on the Goliath-like task of explaining the entire screenwriting process from pitching to selling, studio development to a practical guide to writing with a partner (which they swear will have "you writ[ing] twice as fast as you would without"). They emphasize the importance of both humor and practicality, both of which are imperative tools to a successful career working in "the Dream Machine." The authors demystify the secretive world of screenwriting in Hollywood by offering tips on everything from sequels ("Never discuss the sequel before the movie comes out!") to, arguably, the biggest question of all: "Why does almost every studio movie suck donkey balls?" Their answer: "Development Hell."They even provide helpful hints on how to discern one's importance to the studio, suggesting that "the easy way to tell what the studio's opinion of you is where...they let you park."

The only compass readers will ever need to navigate the treacherous waters of filmmaking.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439186756
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 7/5/2011
  • Edition description: Simon & Schuster
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,209,190
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Lennon attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where he co-founded the influential sketch comedy group The State. He and Ben Garant have written nine feature films together, including: Night at the Museum, Taxi, Reno 911!: Miami, Balls of Fury, and The Pacifier. Tom has also appeared as an actor in numerous films. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actress Jenny Robertson and his son, Oliver.

Robert Ben Garant spent the early nineties in New York, with the comedy group The State on MTV. He and Tom Lennon then created two more hit shows on Comedy Central: Viva Variety and Reno 911! Since relocating to Los Angeles, he’s written films for Disney, Spyglass, Imagine, Warner Brothers, Columbia, Paramount, New Line, Dimension, and Universal Pictures. Please visit WritingMoviesForFunandProfit.com.

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Table of Contents

Foreword John Hamburg ix

Introduction xi

Part 1 Selling Your Movie

1 Getting Started in Hollywood 3

2 Why Isn't Anyone Buying My Brilliant Script? 11

3 How to Pitch Your Movie 18

4 Joining the Writers Guild of America, West 24

5 I Sold It! Now What Happens? 29

6 Idiot Check 38

7 Coverage! or How a Kid Getting College Credit Can Make or Break Your Movie! 51

8 Have I Made It Yet? 55

9 They Love My Script! ... and I Got Fired? 59

10 Why Does Almost Every Studio Movie Suck Donkey Balls? 62

11 The Art of Nodding or How to Take Notes 71

12 Directors 82

13 Producers 89

14 Herbie: Fully Loaded 92

15 Redlighting or How to Get Your Movie Un-Greenlit! 101

16 Turnaround 108

17 How to Pimp Your Movie 110

18 Naysayers 114

19 The Silver Lining 116

20 Our Lunch with Jackie Chan 120

21 Credit$ 124

22 Living in Los Angeles 130

Part 2 Writing a Screenplay

23 If Your Screenplay Doesn't Have This Structure, It Won't Sell, or Robert McKee Can Suck It 147

24 In a Few Pages, We'll Teach You How to Formulate Characters in a Script 154

25 How to Write a Screenplay 166

26 Writing Action and Description 170

27 Advice for Writing with a Partner 175

28 Rewrites: You Want It When? And I'm Getting Paid What?!?!?!!? 180

29 Martin Lawrence Has a Few Thoughts or How to Take Notes from a Movie Star 188

30 Arbitration or Who Wrote This Crap? 193

31 Sequels! 198

32 Getting the Book Rights 201

33 I'm Drinking Too Much. Is That a Problem? 204

34 Final Thoughts 208

Appendix Sample Outlines 211

Glossary 295

Acknowledgments 313

Index 315

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Funny and Informational!

    I should start by mentioning that I have no interest in writing a screenplay. I do however love The State, Viva Variety, and Reno 911!, so I was very familiar with the authors of this book. Naturally I was dying to read it. It was everything I expected and more. There was tons of humor mixed with some really useful information. My favorite section was probably the chapter on determining if you had made it in Hollywood by where the different studios sent you to park.

    Through all the humor, you get a real sense of passion for writing. They don't just do this for money; they write because they feel compelled to. They go through their process of writing an outline, pitching to studios, and then writing the screenplay. There is also a lot of useful information about how the studio system works and what to expect from the entire movie making process. I also learned a lot about all the different writing and production credits and the arbitration system with the writing guild. It's all very complex and fascinating.

    Clearly if you are interested in writing screenplays, there is a lot of useful information here. Even for us non-writers though, there is so much stuff to learn from this book. Naturally, it's all relayed with tons of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in movies. It is sure to entertain!

    Galley provided by publisher for review.

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