Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing (And Not Getting Eaten)
At a Glance
"As a director, I cannot achieve my goals without the help of creative and courageous writers. Pen’s book is unique in that it addresses the entire landscape of movie writing as a career, and most especially encourages artists who write from the heart and strive for originality."
-Ron Howard, Director/Producer/Writer/Actor
Written by award-winning producer/writer/director and USC adjunct professor Pen Densham, this in-depth guide explores specific screenplay writing techniques while simultaneously imparting industry-tested strategies for carving a successful, long-term career.
Through inspiring philosophies and professional secrets, plus insights from his company, Trilogy Entertainment Group, Pen imparts wisdom on such pertinent topics as structuring stories and creating compelling characters stars will want to play, choosing an artistic career, overcoming the many challenges to selling yourself and your work, finding an agent, and being true to one’s nature.
Pen speaks from a place of tremendous empathy for writers, as someone who personally identifies with their creative struggles. Believing there are many "right" ways to find your voice as an artist, he has included short essays from some of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, each with their own particular perspectives on the craft and building a career.
Includes a Foreword by Jay Roach (director of Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, and Dinner for Schmucks) and an "Instant Library" summarizing 10 other popular books on Hollywood, as reviewed by Pen’s USC Film Students.
Some notable fans:
"Pen’s advice is something I wish I’d had when starting out. His words on the creative process are inspiring and useful, and his insight into the business is essential."
-Paul Haggis, Academy Award-Winning Writer/Producer/Director
“One thing I know for sure; without writers, we in the entertainment business are aimless wanderers looking for a place to be. My thanks to Pen for this inspirational book.” - Morgan Freeman, Academy Award-winning Actor
“As a director, I cannot achieve my goals without the help of creative and courageous writers. Pen’s book is unique in that it addresses the entire landscape of movie writing as a career, and most especially encourages artists who write from the heart and strive for originality.” - Ron Howard, Director / Producer / Writer / Actor
“If you’re thinking about writing a screenplay, do yourself a favor and hop on Pen Densham’s Alligator. The ride’s enlightening.” - Jeff Bridges, Academy Award-Winning Actor
“This is an insightful and thoughtful book on the art of filmmaking. Pen Densham is a triple threat talent; writer, director and producer… And brilliant at all three. Since I gave him his first big break – I’m proud he has written this terrific book.” - Norman Jewison, Director / Producer
“Anyone who wants to go on the journey of writing a screenplay could not have a better guide than Pen Densham.” - David Wirtschafterm, Partner, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment
“Densham’s book is wise, encouraging, helpful and kind – everything the business of moviemaking is sometimes not. Young writers would do well to keep it close at hand.” - Tom Rothman, Co-Chairman, Fox Filmed Entertainment
“In Riding the Alligator, Pen has created a unique survival guide for screenwriters that marries his intense passion for story telling with his practical advice drawn from his own triumphs and struggles. The result is an insightful and inspiring roadmap for success as a story teller and a screenwriter.” - Danny Rosett, Former COO Overture Films, Former President United Artists
“Frankly, I’d like to give this book to my execs; it’s not only valuable for anyone looking to be a writer, but also those who are called upon to analyze and comment on writing.” - Mark Stern, Executive Vice President Syfy Channel & Co-Head Universal Cable Productions
“It’s like getting a UC screenwriting course for under $30!!!! As illuminative and thorough Pen Densham is as a director, with Riding the Alligator, he equally arouses the writer within through inspirational and educational guidance.” - Robin Wright, Actor
“Pen Densham’s Riding the Alligator is thought-provoking, informative, and inspiring…and filled with a rare kind of wisdom I haven’t found in any other book about the screen trade. In his closing chapter, Densham writes ‘Be passionate – be daring – go forward.’ Read Riding the Alligator and you are well on your way!” - Richard Chizmar, Writer / Producer, Founder / Publisher / Editor of Cemetery Dance Magazine
“Final Draft’s slogan is ‘Just Add Words’. Pen Densham’s Riding the Alligator is an inspiration to finding those words.” - Marc Madnick, Co-founder and CEO of Final Draft, Inc.
“Any film or TV writer will benefit from Pen Densham’s gift of hope, Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in SCREENPLAY Writing… and not getting eaten. Complete with a photo of young Densham riding an alligator, the book serves as teacher and cheerleader. Written with charm and style, writer-director-producer Densham may be the last gentleman standing.”
— Mary Schirmer
Screenwriter / Instructor
“Pen Densham’s Riding The Alligator provides the essential tools of the trade and leaves more than sufficient room for individual creativity. His deep understanding of the screenwriting process is at once inspiring and empowering. An invaluable resource that is certain to become a must for all new screenwriters.” - Robert Mandel, Dean of AFI Conservatory
“BRAVO!!! Pen Densham’s Riding the Alligator is a magnificent guide for all writers – an incisive, brilliant and loving leg up to help them crack open the door to their own creative and career goals!” - Paul Saltzman, Writer / Director / Producer: Prom Night in Mississippi
“I thought Chapter 11 was terrific. I thought Chapter 8 was terrific. Let’s face it: I thought the whole book was great and I want to use it in my classes as required reading.” - Barbara Boyle, Chair of the UCLA Department of Film and Television and Digital Media
- Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
- Date available: 01/01/2011
- Publication date: 01/01/2011
- Return policy: 30 days
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Meet the Author: Pen Densham
Pen Densham is a successful award-winning screenwriter, producer, and director, with an extensive track-record in film and television. He is responsible for writing and producing some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, along with some of its longest-running television series including The Outer Limits.
Starting with his first job in show business, riding atop a live alligator for a theatrical short film made by his parents, Pen decided to leave his English school system at age 15, and has since spent his lifetime in the business of entertainment, selling films and television series, as w...