Before you read on, let me get some of your questions out of the way: no, this documentary will not teach you how to sell a script, land an agent or get your film made. This documentary will also not give you any secret formula for writing the type of material that is all but guaranteed to sell or get made. So, you know, magic bullet fans looking for the easy road… not here. That said, if you have any interest in being a screenwriter, or already are a screenwriter, then you need to see this film.
“Tales from the Script,” a documentary from filmmakers Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman (who also co-wrote a book, also entitled “Tales from the Script”), is just what the title says: it is a collection of tales from famous and not-so-famous screenwriters discussing everything from how long it takes to write a script to the usefulness of agents to the ratio of written screenplays to purchased screenplays to produced screenplays. Simply, it’s insider information, shared with anyone willing to sit down and watch it.
Now, if you’re not a screenwriter, or have no interest in the craft, while there are some entertaining anecdotes to keep your attention, the film may come across a bit too dry, because the film is as minimalist as can be: talking heads, title and chapter cards and a short film clip to illustrate the chapter cards. That’s it. None of the uber-animation insanity most docs seem to have nowadays to liven up the proceedings, “Tales from the Script” assumes you’re there for what the people on screen have to say, and doesn’t get away from that.
As for the people on the screen, the subjects range all over the board, from Oscar-winning heavyweights (William Goldman, David S. Ward) to blockbuster scribes (David Hayter, Zak Penn) to indie stalwarts (Allison Anders, Guinevere Turner) to straight-to-video toilers (Michael January). Simply, the entire range is represented, so someone, at some point, will say something of interest to you. If they don’t… why are you watching, anyway? You know it all anyway, right?
“Tales from the Script,” as I said before, is a must-see for screenwriters or those wanting to become screenwriters. It’s also valuable for those looking for insight into those types of people who call themselves screenwriters. For everyone else, it’s educational, sure, but a bit more of a challenging watch. Still, “Tales from the Script” definitely delivers the insight, and what you do with it will become part of your own story.