Screenwriting Behind Enemy Lines: Lessons from Inside the Studio Gates

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A very pragmatic look at what “they” are looking for combined with techniques for delivering that. Includes “Tales from the Trenches,” lessons from various sets and development situations to illustrate the points being made, from one of the legendary production and development executives.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (January 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615931678
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615931675
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces

Customer Reviews

An Honest and Helpful Take on Screenwriting

 on February 22, 2014
By chuck erven
Schimmel’s book, “Screenwriting: Behind Enemy Lines”, is quite simply one of the best books on screenwriting available. The experiences Schimmel brings to the table is nothing short of a feast. “Screenwriting: Behind Enemy Lines” reflects his unique perspective from years spent in the industry. His book is straight-up honest, never cynical or cloying and always assumes that the reader is smart and interested in writing a great screenplay (rather than in simply finishing a screenplay). The information and exercises on structure and the emphasis laid on act one of a screenplay, would make this book worth every penny. However, the most inspiring and thought-provoking chapters are those he devotes to an in-depth analysis of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Lincoln”, and his “Final Thoughts” essay is brilliant and expansive. If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of screenplay structure, you will find it here. If you’re interested in knowing what makes a great screenplay rather than simply a good screenplay, you will find it here. Finally, if you’re interested in being a screenwriter rather than simply calling yourself a screenwriter, this book is for you. I suspect that “Screenwriting: Behind Enemy Lines” will become a standard in the near future.


One person found this helpful.
 on January 31, 2014
By Joshua Malkin
Among the very best books on screenwriting I’ve ever read. What I appreciated in particular was that Behind Enemy Lines never condescends or oversimplifies. It assumes that the reader is smart, eager but not desperate, willing to ask and answer honest questions about their objectives and audience. John Schimmel accurately reflects the pitfalls and saturation of the marketplace, while never becoming grim or discouraging. He also stresses the all-important goal of pursuing emotional resonance (“Truth”), eschewing the one-size-fits-all “recipe” approach that seems so common in inferior, for-the-beginner books on screenwriting.

Screenwriting Tips From An Industry Insider

2 people found this helpful.
 on January 13, 2014
By Tom Farr
In SCREENWRITING BEHIND ENEMY LINES, John Schimmel provides valuable insight into writing a script that studio executives are more likely to read, and he writes as an industry insider. Though there are many similarities between this book and many other screenwriting books, Schimmel’s book truly seeks to get readers behind the scenes of the film industry. He seems to hold nothing back as he pulls back the curtain to show the reader what the current state of the industry is and where it has come from.

Helpful glimpse behind the curtain

 on September 6, 2014
By Chad Gervich
This book may not have any new groundbreaking screenwriting techniques, but it’s easily one of the most read-able, enjoyable, helpful books out there.

Practical insider’s advice

3 people found this helpful.
 on December 19, 2013
By Paul Chitlik
This is one of the most specific books I have ever read on screenwriting, and I’ve read a lot of them. Schimmel speaks from a distinct development executive’s point of view, and it’s really eye-opening. Through analyses of projects he actually worked on while a executive for a number of companies, Schimmel gives you the inside story on how to make your screenplay what it needs to be in order to get it produced.

A practical guide with just enough philosophy and industry guidance

 on January 21, 2014
By Amanda P
I was really impressed with John Schimmel’s book. First off, he has a lot more experience than many other screenwriting book authors, and provides a unique perspective. Beyond that, he has written a practical guide with thoughtful analysis of concept, structure, character, dialogue and plot. It doesn’t get philosophically lofty, but doesn’t gloss over difficult concepts, either. I also liked the way he stressed that writers must acknowledge that they’re trying to sell to a difficult marketplace, but shouldn’t shy away from trying to SAY something (their “Truth,” as he calls it). He also offers a lot of specific breakdowns of films and anecdotes from other professionals. It’s a good book for beginners, though I don’t think it’s too basic for people with a few scripts under their belts.

Needs to be read by anyone who writes screenplays. Even if you think you got it down…read this book.

 on March 31, 2014
By Forris B. Day
I don’t like writing in books. I feel like I’m destroying them somehow, but in reading “Screenwriting – Behind Enemy Lines” by John Schimmel I had to overcome my obsession. I did just that, I wrote in it. Highlighted to be more specific. The book just has so much information for a novice screenwriter such as myself that I felt it necessary to highlight stuff so I could reference back to it. Heck, it has so much information that even a veteran screenwriter is sure to gain some new knowledge. I loved this book. It’s like a text book for filmmaking except way more interesting to read.

Great book, exercises, and insights

 on December 20, 2013
By Dave Watson, Editor, Movies Matter
John Schimmel’s “Screenwriting Behind Enemy Lines” achieves a balance with story structure, industry navigation, and helpful examples. It’s always great to read a book that brings elements to light in movies seen multiple times. Schimmel’s use of “The Fugitive” and where the audience is in relation to the characters in the story is only one example. The author also separates the stand-outs from the forgettable, as in “The Avengers” versus “The Green Lantern.” Yet Schimmel never loses his focus: to prepare, write, and polish a screenplay that will work and , above all, entertain and enlighten. What drives a film, with closer looks at various movies, is what drives this book to greatness.

Required Reading for Screenwriters

 on January 20, 2014
By Wendy Moore
I’ve read a number of screenwriting books, and most push you toward a paint-by-numbers approach. This book is the first one that has pushed me to ask the hard questions that actually solve the problems in my screenplays. Screenwriting Behind Enemy Lines will help you write a screenplay that touches the readers on an emotional level and that stays in their thoughts for days afterwards. In my opinion, this is the book that will most help writers to write Academy-Award winning screenplays, rather than formulaic, predictable pieces. Five stars simply isn’t a high enough rating!

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