Monday, June 18, 2007

Fast, Cheap & Written That Way

No, I'm not talking about the story of my life, I'm talking about the new book from John Gaspard who gave us FAST, CHEAP & UNDER CONTROL: LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE GREATEST LOW-BUDGET MOVIES OF ALL TIME.

This is a good book and reinforces many of the principles I try to impart through this humble blog. Gaspard interviews many screenwriters of low budget movies, and reveals several great screenwriting lessons...

BUT -

What would have made this a better companion volume is if Gaspard had re-interviewed the subjects of his first book. If UNDER CONTROL is about directing and producing the low-budget masterpiece, then it seems to me that he should have developed his "case study" format further in WRITTEN THAT WAY by dissecting the screenplays of those low budget masterpieces. Instead, Gaspard gives us new scripts and movies to ponder.

In this way, WRITTEN is not so much a companion volume as it is a sidenote, and lacks the focus the subject matter requires in order to impart the most value to readers - screenwriters and filmmakers who wish to break into the business.

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What are the top ten low-budget pulp movies? Discuss.

3 comments:

Roger Alford said...

<< What are the top ten low-budget pulp movies?>>

I don't know about ranking, but I have a few candidates to throw out there:

- Duel. Dennis Weaver and a big truck. Directed in 12 days by some kid named Steven Spielberg. Gripping from beginning to end.

- Little Shop of Horrors. Movie, Broadway musical, then movie again, then Broadway revival. Can't stop the plant.

- El Mariachi. $7000 bucks, and the dialogue was recorded right AFTER each scene was shot. Rodriguez' book is a must-read for every budding filmmaker.

- Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. You've seen Star Wars, now watch this. Deja Vu all over again.

- Psycho. Hitchcock shot this with the crew from his TV show. Masterpiece of film and marketing.

This topic would make a great book for YOU to write, Bill.

Piers said...

Define low-budget.

Bill Cunningham said...

Piers -

For the purpose of this discussion, I would have to say low budget = $1M and under (in today's dollars)...

This would include (in my list) movies like:

RE-ANIMATOR
EVIL DEAD
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13
EL MARIACHI
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
PIRANHA
BLACK CHRISTMAS
THE HILLS HAVE EYES
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
BASKET CASE
SWEET SWEETBACK'S BADASS SONG
TARGETS
PORKY'S
ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL

Etc....