Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recommended Reading

The just a day before the Blake Snyder died, Steve Kerper gave me a copy of his book "Save the Cat".

I'm a little ambivalent about it. It's clear, accurate and sound in every regard considering standard story structure. What does it all add up to? Cookie cutter Hollywood movies.

On the other hand, as he says this structure works that why we use it. When scripts stray from this format they usually fare poorly.

The thing that sticks with me (apart from his hilarious riffs on the shortcomings of "Signs") is his chapter on genre.

I'd like to list his 10 categories:

• Monster in the House (Jaws, Tremors, Alien, The Exorcist, Fatal Attraction, Panic Room)
• Golden Fleece (Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Back to the Future)
• Out of the Bottle (Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, Freaky Friday, Flubber)
• Dude with a Problem (Breakdown, Titanic, Die Hard, Schindler's List)
• Rites of Passage (10, Ordinary People, Days of Wine and Roses)
• Buddy Love (Dumb & Dumber, Rain Man, Finding Nemo)
• Whydunit (Chinatown, China Syndrome, JFK, The Insider)
• The Fool Triumphant (Being There, Forrest Gump, Dave, The Jerk, Amadeus)
• Institutionalized (Animal House, MASH, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, American Beauty, The Godfather)
• Superhero (Superman, Dracula, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind)

These are story types refined from Joseph Campbell and a hundred year history of narrative cinema.

As much as the tropes in this book veer toward cliché, it would be nice to see animators who want to make traditional narratives take them to heart.

1 comment:

Michael Sporn said...

Maybe it's something I should read to help me make cookie cutter Hollywood movies. I might be able to make a dime that way.