Brilliant analysis and explanation of Hollywood, by William Goldman, Oscar winning screenwriter extraordinaire: compulsive reading if, like me, you're a junkie for behind-the-scenes gossip and insight into even the most trivial aspects of the film-making process. Goldman's irrerevent humour and total honesty makes it completely unputdownable: he's at his best when discussing an individual script's journey from idea to film, and provides an example at the end where he writes a short script specially and runs it by producers, directors, editors, costume designers, cinematographers, and so on. He's also wonderful at pithy wise one-liners, the most pithy and wise and famous of which is probably:
Nobody Knows Anything.
What he means by this, of course, is that ultimately, however much he or anyone else writes about star power or the importance of marketing or a great screenplay, there will always be Blair Witch Projects
and Star Wars
, but the quote is often applied to pretty much anything under the sun, including but not limited to sports and politics.
If you like this, try Rebel Without A Crew, Robert Rodriguez' fascinating diary of the low-budget making of his first (frankly rubbish) feature El Mariachi, the basis for Desperado, or Goldman's sequel Which Lie Did I Tell: Further Adventures In The Screen Trade, also good but clearly not meant to be read immediately after the first one, which was written 15 years earlier: I read them back to back and the similarities are actually a little embarrassing.