Recently, I cited a famous David Mamet work that is integral to the American masterworks of the 20th century: Glengarry Glen Ross.
But I couldn’t just cite it because it lingered with me. Then I came across the title of Cinephelia & Beyond’s article on it and it screamed to be shared: “David Mamet’s screenplay for ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ is the best screenwriting school you can ever get”
Now obviously, while that is high praise, it does not replace the hands on education you receive from the bevy of instructors a university can offer. But there is truth in how much a writer can gain from reading screenplays, especially by those such as Mamet who have created such a distinct voice for their work.
And where Mamet has woven such a tapestry through the power of dialogue, Terry Gilliam has arguably done the same through the visuals depicted in his words. And though American by birth, he is every bit British in loyalties and sensibilities. From his early work writing, animating and acting with Monty Python to his solo film work, there is an imaginative wit that is all so singular in his genius.
With his first major solo film, he created one of the greatest children’s fantasies put to screen with Time Bandits. So far ahead of its time and yet timeless, it’s ideas even today are so unique and fantastic. And it can all be seen on the page, only to be made even more visual thanks to his own direction of the work.
No matter if you aim to write for adults or children, the key is to grab them and never let go. Mamet and Gilliam do that every chance they get. And these two pieces are key lessons in how to grab the reader and never let go.
Click here to read how Mamet does it by forcing you to listen to the words coming out of his character’s mouths. And Click here to read how Gilliam does it by immersing you in scenes that spark your imagination to no end.