Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need (02)


By Sheila Hanahan Taylor, Producer at Zide/Perry Entertainment, whose films include the American Pie trilogy, Hellboy, Cats and Dogs, Final Destination, Final Destination 2; Associate Professor, UCLA Producer’s Program.

With the turn of EVERY page of this book, I found myself using all of Blake Snyder’s tools, hints, and ideas to double- and triple-check my own projects that are set up and in development at studios all over town! I love the idea that Blake has written a book that everyone can use — from the novice to the practicing producer. How often does that happen?!

I also found myself trying to come up with a way I could politely refer Save the Cat! to a number of repped, produced writers who could use a little goose from its tactics. Imagine what would happen in a town where more writers approached screenwriting the way Blake suggests? My weekend read would dramatically improve, both in sellable/produceable content and in discovering new writers who understand the craft of storytelling and can be hired on assignment for ideas we already have in house. (On second thought, are you SURE you want this published, Blake? It might beef up the competition!)

I’ve been searching for a book that masterfully uses the kind of “successful” examples studio heads use (Miss Congeniality, Die Hard, Legally Blonde, Signs) and peeks behind the curtain to explain them on all fronts — genre, plot, structure, marketing, casting — in a way that rookies and pros alike will understand and hopefully put to use. Save the Cat! is like a Berlitz guide to interpreting the secret language of every studio exec and producer in town. Once you learn to think like the people with the checkbook, you’re one step closer to success.

I’m not exaggerating when I say at Zide/Perry — one of the premier homes for breaking new screenwriters and launching careers — we recommend every single one of Blake’s strategies… from watching movies in the appropriate genre and breaking down all their key elements, to asking what the poster/who the cast is, to showing how using similar films as a benchmark is just good storytelling. When I picked up Save the Cat! it was like Blake had been in our offices for the last six years, hearing our words and recording them in a master bible.

Experience shows that following the steps in Save the Cat! works. I can name dozens of writers/producers who have launched their careers using the philosophy described on these pages! It’s invaluable. Thank God, Blake has taken the time to put it all down in one efficient and witty place. And just like good exposition, the breezy writing here makes the instruction and insight sneak up on you. Before you know it, you’ve read the whole thing, learned a ton, and are still inspired to tackle your next project.

Because this book explores the craft of screenwriting starting from the business side of things, I consider it both essential and revolutionary. Save the Cat! takes into account both halves of the whole, for the route to success in this business is to strike a balance between art and commerce, and this book has done exactly that!

Just like my invaluable collection of classic, great scripts, Save the Cat! is a book to have on the shelf, right next to Syd Field’s. I would absolutely revisit it whenever I find myself wanting a quick refresher course on commercial screenplay structure and strategy.

A final word: After reading dozens of how-to books, this is the FIRST book on screenwriting/the business that I’ve EVER asked the co-chairs at UCLA to consider making required reading. In fact, Save the Cat! is, to me, a must-read for anyone who is even remotely interested in being in the game.


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