Some trainees in Ethiopia have expressed interest in other reading materials beyond what’s on my syllabus for the workshop on TV drama script writing. In my blog posts previously, I have often included hyperlinks to the books on the syllabus and to other sources of information. In response to the interest of the trainees, today I want to add some more readings here. First, on the syllabus is the important textbook book The Screenplay: A Blend of Film Form and Content by Margaret Mehring, who discusses a lot of the things I mentioned in my January 5th blog post about how the peculiar technology of film and video camera affects the way a story is told. In earlier blog posts, I have already included links to the books Story: Structure, Substance, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee and Writing the TV Drama Series by Pamela Douglas that we are reading for the workshop.
There are some other sources worth mentioning. Syd Field wrote a book called Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. Based on that book, he made a useful film entitled the Screen Writing Workshop. You can click on the hyperlinks for his website, his book, and the workshop film, but here also is the first 15 minutes of that workshop on YouTube:
In addition to these practical guides for writing screenplays, there are numerous books of a more theoretical nature. For example, there are the classic essays of the most important and influential filmmaker, Sergei Eisenstein, which have been translated and collected in a book entitled Essays in Film Theory: Film Form. Another is the important book by the film critic and theorist Andre Bazin translated from the French, What is Cinema? One of the classic works of feminist film criticism is Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by Laura Mulvey. I couldn’t find the entire text of that book on the internet, but her shorter article that summarizes the whole book is [here]. One of the most famous Africa film critics is Manthia Diawara. His book African Cinema analyzes the history of its development. These are all foundational, classic works. In addition, in my blog post of January 2, I included a YouTube video of the famous philosopher Slavoj Zizek talking about film. His books Looking Awry and Enjoy Your Symptom! are useful introductions to thinking critically about movies and television. For my “Introduction to Film Studies” course that I taught last year [syllabus], I used a new textbook by Bill Nichols entitled Engaging Cinema, but unfortunately this is not available yet on-line.
My blog post today is just a beginning, but in my opinion, more important than reading these textbooks and theoretical books is to watch films and TV shows critically and to practice discussing and writing about them. Writing is like a sport — practice, experiment, practice. Meanwhile, if anyone has any other suggestions for reading or useful hyperlinks, please let us know by posting a comment!!!