It Could Happen to You
By John Robert Marlow
St. Matin’s Griffin, $15.99, 308 pages
While John Robert Marlow, author of Make Your Story a Movie, makes it clear that strong film industry connections are needed to give you that leading edge (to transforming your book into the next talked-about, successful big-screen movie), there are still those lucky few creative souls who do succeed despite the odds, those who happen to be present precisely when the heavens become perfectly aligned. (Think Diablo Cody, original screenwriter of the Oscar-winning film Juno.)
Although the dynamics of timing may be up to the moon and the stars, success is still reachable by those who possess not only incredible talent but also the desire, discipline and determination to study and follow the advice given in this frank and informative book. Staying lean and mean with the 13 things Hollywood is looking for in a storyline (chapter 4), for instance, may just put you ahead of the pack. Maneuvering through the minefield of rules, regulations, and legalities of Hollywood (see the “No Fly List” on page 21) will become much more manageable with this guide.
The Hollywood film industry is first and foremost a business. As such there is a certain protocol that must be followed to gain entry through those pearly Paramount Studio gates. While Hollywood is as of late more into the blockbuster/action-packed feature film and most likely to bank on a known franchise (an almost sure thing on the money-making front, as is thinking globally in terms of distribution), it doesn’t mean that – with the proper pitch and packaging – your script or story can’t be the next Little Miss Sunshine (“indie” turned major studio hit).
But don’t think you won’t need the King Kong of agents or managers leading your way, because you will. Just don’t be discouraged when Marlow states that finding a good agent or manager is “akin to, say, a journey to the moon” or “a mission to Mars,” for there is always chapter 28 to guide you along the way.
Those discouraged by the fact that their little story will most likely never make it to the big time (not to mention a little paranoid about the whole take-my-story-to-the-chopping-block adaptation process) can still be thoroughly entertained by this book. It is sprinkled with interviews and stories drawn from those whose names we know through their works (such as Titanic/Avatar’s James Cameron or Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling). I wish there were more of them, but guess that’s where the author’s website comes into play.
While it is unlikely that your story or book, or you, will be discovered sitting at the counter of that now-infamous soda fountain on the corner of Sunset and Vine, the mystique of Hollywood is still alive ¬– and, all told, that ongoing fascination with the cinema makes this book worth its modest price.
Reviewed by Kathleen Godwin