I recently sat down with screenwriter and author Blake Snyder at the Urth Caffe in Beverly Hills. You may already know Blake from his successful Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need book that is a “must-have” on screenwriters’ bookshelves everywhere. I took some of your questions by email and asked him the things you most want to know. Here is the first part of that interview along with a little background info on Blake Snyder.
Blake Snyder has had a 20-year career in Hollywood. He started out as a writer for television on the show “Kids Incorporated” before transitioning to writing for film. Blake writes with a partner as well as solo. And he has made several sales in Hollywood, including a couple of million-dollar sales. His book, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need was published in May 2005, and is now in its thirteenth printing, having sold over 30,000 copies. And he has transitioned that into some successful workshops and seminars to help out screenwriters just like you. In the past, Blake has taught college-level classes on screenwriting and been a contributing writer to sites like Absolute Write and Movie Web. He has a BA in English and is a member of the Writers Guild of America, west.
Interview, part one:
SMS: I see that you have a BA in English, is it safe to say that you had another career in mind?
BS: Well, I always wanted to be a writer. I have written for many different kinds of things, you know: rock and roll reviewer, movie reviewer, poetry editor. I just think that any type of writing experience that you have is good and I still do it all. I was hired to write a screenplay recently; and I sold one in 2006. So I am still actively working as a screenwriter, but my love is books and helping other screenwriters and writers.
SMS: I know you are working on a third Save the Cat book – is that going to be it or are there more in the works after that?
BS: There’s going to be a lot more. This third one is for screenwriters, it’s called Save the Cat! Strikes Back: More Trouble for Screenwriters to Get Into and Out Of. There is also Save the Cat! Falls In Love [for romance writers]. And then we have a little one coming out with our software that we are calling Save the Cat! Jr. which is a little condensation of the process which I think is very powerful. It’s kind of like a mini book. Then we have one for schools that I am co-authoring with another writer, his name is Peter Cooke, and that is called Save the Cat! Goes to School. It is really more geared towards teaching high school students to write screenplays.
SMS: Did you have any idea that Save the Cat! was going to take off like it did?
SMS: So, did you initially have the idea of making it a series? Or did that spawn from the success of Save the Cat?
BS: No. I just did it for fun. If you read in the introduction I sort of say ‘Good Luck’ to everybody not knowing I would be loving this.
SMS: I know that you got your start writing for TV, how did you actually go from being a TV writer to getting jobs writing for films?
BS: I just think it’s important to say “yes.” When they asked me if could write Kids, Incorporated I said “yes.” I had a partner at that time, the wonderful Howard Burkons, and we said “yes.” Then we were asked to write the very first interactive movie, which was Police Academy 4.5, where we met the producer of that series, who is Paul Maslansky and my friend Phil Goldfine. And we said “yes” to that. But we always in the back of our minds wanted to be feature writers. So anything that was sort of close to that world we said “yes” to. But the breakthrough for me was just sitting down and writing scripts by myself. So becoming a spec screenwriter was really the breakthrough for me. And learning these rules that I talk about in Save the Cat! was a breakthrough for me.
SMS: So how many scripts have you written by yourself versus with co-writers?
BS: About 50/50. I like both experiences. I like to be alone at a typewriter; I also love collaboration.
That concludes part one of our interview with Blake Snyder. Stay tuned for the next few parts where Blake gives his thoughts on the importance of screenwriting contests for screenwriters, whether screenwriters should focus on getting an agent, manager or production company and what type of training a screenwriter really needs.
***Get Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need today! This book has helped tons of screenwriters and just might be what you have been looking for! It was recently the #1 seller on Amazon in the screenwriting category!