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Me and You and Memento and Fargo: How Independent Screenplays Work Paperback – Mar 15 2007
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"Me and You and Memento and Fargo is absolutely appealing far beyond just being a typical screenwriting "manual" such those written by Syd Field and his ilk. Murphy is clearly zeroing in on the way these films are written, but even those not interested in writing their own screenplays should find this book totally engrossing....Hopefully it'll give food for thought to a new generation of screenwriters who truly want to push the storytelling envelope again." -Bad Lit: The Journal of Underground Film
"US academic J.J. Murphy argues that the meteoric rise of indie filmmaking in the last 25 years has necessitated a different style of storytelling. His analysis of a variety of indie scripts will chiefly be of interest to aspiring screenwriters." Empire
"Lately, we've all been pondering the same question: Are independent films really independent anymore? Author Murphy asserts that independent films are determined more by their missions than their budgets." Script Magazine
"With J.J. Murphy's insightful look at American independent screenwriting [in] "Me and You and 'Memento' and 'Fargo' How Independent Screenplays Work"...Murphy focuses on independent cinema in clear, engaging prose, tracking how a series of seminal independent features were developed and written and his case studies include scripts and films by Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Allison Anders, Miranda July, David Lynch and Gus Van Sant.
Kathryn Millard, "Journal of Screenwriting" 1, 2 (May 2010)
About the Author
J. J. Murphy is Professor of Film Production and Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His films have played at major international film festivals and have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Austrian Film Museum (Vienna), the Barbican Film Centre (London), and the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In his introduction, Murphy does a long-overdue temple-sweeping on Field, McKee, and Co., exposing their myopic tendency to set the rules by the rules of the marketplace (which is actually clueless, as per William Goldman's summation, "Nobody knows anything"). The chapters devoted to Murphy's film selections provide a catalog of alternative strategies for writers whose voices can't or won't harmonize with traditional American film structure. Mainstream writing coaches would interject here that Murphy's movies are the work of writer/directors, who have the freedom (bought at the risk of personal loss and/or losses to producers without the cash cushions of major studios) to film whatever they write. But in a spec script market drowning in thousands of formula-baked, uninspired scripts, writers in search of others to direct their work should find the study of independent screenplays to be a competitive advantage, supporting the development of their individual voices, which are any artist's prime asset.
If your goal as a screenwriter is to cash in with a mainstream blockbuster, this book is not for you. It valorizes things that the gurus hold in (blinkered) contempt, and it's resolute in its resistance to any writing paradigms driven by greed and/or the fear of rejection. If you want to write movies because you love that work too much to care about the obstacles, then Me and You and Memento and Fargo will connect you with a set of artists with the same glorious problem. (Murphy mixes generous amount of commentary from directors and other first-hand participants into his own explications.) It will encourage you to make your work like they do: by any means necessary. The energy you'll derive from that is the energy that fuels the movies Murphy champions, and that energy can't be derived from mere recipe books.
This book is written as a college-level text, with the appropriate high standards and scholarly apparatus, but page by page it's also highly entertaining. Get it if you're taking a screenwriting course. Assign it if you're teaching one. Drink it in, for courage and companionship, if you're trying to write movies on your own.
Who says you have to follow the "formula?". Certainly not JJ Murphy. But I'd highly advise an aspiring screenwriter to first learn the "formula" then read this book and learn how to break it.
MAYAMAF dives into not just how independent screenplays work, but presents another argument for how the rigid rules of traditional screenwriting has actually evolved in creative ways, and shows specific cases where writers have created successful scripts without following the rules. These aren't exceptions, JJ Murphy argues, but a different and equally valid way to tell a story.
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