Writing for the Green Light is not like other screenwriting books. In the first place, the author, Scott Kirkpatrick, is not a screenwriter. He is a distribution company executive.
The first advice he gives is to forget about the craft of screenwriting. Forget about writing something artistic. He suggests sticking to well-worn genres: The Family Christmas Dog Adventure, The Woman-in-Peril Thriller, The Family-Safe Teen Romance, The Creature Feature, The Aging Name-Actor Comeback Action Film, The Young Boy Action Avdenture Film. I almost threw the book across the room.
If you’re trying to be commercial, why not horror movies? Why not low-budget based-on-a-true-story dramas? Well, luckily I kept reading, because Kirkpatrick has answers. His suggested genres are more valuable. A screenwriting career is about making money as a screenwriter, not as a waiter or barista.
What this book provides that no other screenwriting book does (nor my expensive NYU Film School education did) is a practical guide. There are good, useful tips for breaking in and starting a career as screenwriter.
Smart Advice for Novice Screenwriters
Kirkpatrick tells you to forget about query letters and agents and screenplay competitions and focus on making a product that is already selling in the B-movie market. Don’t write eight bad spec scripts to hone your craft when a guy on Craigslist will pay you $500 to hone your craft on his bad script!
Truly, this is not advice for people who want to get into screenwriting for the love of cinema. This is the book for people who want to get paid to write. With Kirkpatrick’s method, you must be willing to start at the ground floor and work your way up. You must be willing to explore some hoary, old genres. You have to write fast!
If for nothing else, I recommend this book for a smart articulation of the perspective of people in the industry who buy scripts. A-level Hollywood content may offer some additional genres, but in a lot of ways the attitudes are the same. Kirkpatrick has solid advice on pitching and on focussing on the work that pays — writing — and not the work that doesn’t (query letters, contract negotiations).
Full disclosure: This review is unpaid but a copy was provided by the publisher.
Correction note 2/12/18: The author’s surname was previously written as Fitzpatrick. It is Kirkpatrick. Making the Movie regrets the error.