I have been working my way through a DVD seminar by Richard Walter, called Beyond The Basics, a four disk set that is crammed with inspirational and exceptionally direct and concise advice on screenwriting. No, it’s more than that, it’s about storytelling, agents, managers, film editing and so much more. Richard Walter is an American professor at UCLA and the head of their screenwriting program. He has been tutoring for years and many famous and successful writers have been through his classes. And it shows. He knows his stuff and he doesn ’t mince his words (he is pictured here with Steven de Souza, writer of Die Hard).
What I loved most about this seminar is how he manages to keep technique and instruction fully integrated with his own narrative of tales from the trenches of film making. For me this makes it a great exercise in storytelling in of itself. It makes for an entertaining and instructional experience. I found myself laughing out loud, nodding in agreement, wincing (when I remembered making the same mistakes) and taking notes on what I will do next to my screenplay.
One of the amazing things Richard offers is, he will read your script if you buy his DVD or attend a seminar. Given his immense experience and status, that is an incredible opportunity.
The disk is flag wavingly American, which personally, I respond to in a very favourably way (American in a West Wing sensibility sort of way, not George Bush). I also ripped the audio off the DVD and put it on my iPod so I can listen while travelling, making use of those long tube journeys back and forth from Soho for Gone Fishing.
The Screenwriters store in LA currently has a February Sale where the disk set is reduced from $79.95 to $59.95. You can get it here, though you will need to buy it today to get the discount. I thoroughly recommend it.
On their site, there is also a short but free interview with him here…
Onward and upward!