Film Writing Books & eBooks

Short Film DVD's

SA Film DVD's

Inspirations & Esoteric Books


Most writing literature put forward here is either works I have read or comes highly recommended, one or two just look interesting … any book on film you wish to read is worth the effort. It all goes into the pile of ‘research & life experience’. Gathering information can Never be a waste of time. Happy reading!

Robert McKee.
Alternative Scriptwriting
Jeff Rush, Ken Dancyger.
The Writers Journey
Christopher Vogler.
Strike Up! Structure Your First Film
Philippa J Dyer.
The Artists Way
Julia Cameron.
The Woman in the Story
Helen Jacey & Linda Seger.
Dr Format
David Trottier.

Hero with 1,000 faces

Joseph Cambel


Aristotle’s Poetics.

Gordon M. Kirkwood

The Art of Adaptation

James Hutton & Linda Seger

Advanced Screenwriting

Linda Seger

The Artists Way

Julia Cameron.



Syd Field

Screenplay Updated

Linda Aronson

Screenplay Writing the Picture.

Robin U Russin & William Missouri Downs.

Save the Cat.

Blake Snyder

Save the Cat Goes to the Movies. 

Blake Snyder

Save the Cat Strike’s Back

Blake Snyder

Screenwriter’s Bible

David Trottier

Writing Short Films

Linda J Cowgill

Secrets Screenplay Structure 

Linda J Cowgill

The 3rd Act

Drew Yanno

Alternative Scriptwriting

Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush

Alternative Scriptwriting.

Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush

Cut to the Chase.

Linda Venis.

Inside the Room Writing for TV.

Linda Venis.

Character Traits.

Dr. Linda Edelstein.

Making a Good Script Great.

Linda Seger

The 3rd Act

Drew Yanno

Alternative Scriptwriting

Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush

Alternative Scriptwriting.

Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush

Cut to the Chase.

Linda Venis.

Inside the Room Writing for TV.

Linda Venis.

Character Traits.

Dr. Linda Edelstein.

Making a Good Script Great.

Linda Seger

The Screenfilm 21st C.

Linda Aronson

Writing Subtext.

Linda Seger


ALL films put forward here I have personally watched and love. (If I don’t like them, they’re not here! Ha). However, it might be that some have slipped through my memory bank, so speak up if you if you want me to find a copy of a particular film. I can try and source it for you. The genres … there are no absolutes, they’re my own categories. Sometimes choices have had to be made, for example, The Hurricane could be a Sports Film or a Biopic or a Prison Drama. I’ve gone with the thrust that I’ve interpreted as most prominent. So if you’re looking for writing inspiration check across all possible genres. All pictures belong to, if you wish to source further information that’s a good place to start.




Romance Films are perhaps the biggest genre. Most people in the world are either looking for love, or definitely not, falling into love, out of love, recovering from love, using it as a respite, escape, or solid and trustworthy. Even in war genre films love usually finds a way to compliment the storyline. Often the love interest is a sub-plot to the main story, but if the main thrust of the film is ‘lerve’ … then it falls into the Love Romance category. “Big Genre. Huge!” (Ahem Pretty Woman). Romance in this instance is depicted by any storyline where the love story is the main element of the plot. The audience is routing for the two lovers to get together by the end. And they usually do …

Love Story

Love Story

Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet

Pretty Woman

Country Strong

Runnaway Bride

You’ve Got Mail

The Family Man

A Walk in the Clouds

Notting Hill

Sweet November

Before Sunrise

Before Sunset

The Family Stone

First Daughter


Most of the Love genre have a little bit of comedy as well as drama in them. There is even an emerging group called the Dramedy! The vehicle of exploration is essentially comedic in nature, but still one is routing for the lovers to fall in love in the end. There is a cross over between Romance and Romantic Comedies.


What A Girl Wants

As Good As It Gets

10 Things I Hate About You

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Going The Distance

What Women Want

Along Came Polly


Boys, toys, guns. Goodie chases baddie. Often a women love interest is around but one doesn’t go too deeply into character here. The thrust is on the action. A big action fight in the end: car, bus, train, horse, anything fast and fierce. Fast-paced is the operative word where. Usually male leads here but notice how Angelina Jolie is creeping in there in Salt. I have included Speed here because often one gets a hibrid film, this is an action/hostage/romance drama. But I found the action changing from a car to a bus quite interesting. In this category the Hero is always the most highly skilled in his or her field, and even with a formidable opponent – of course they succeed in the end!

The Matrix

Bourne Identity

Lethal Weapon

Die Hard



Mr & Mrs Smith

Mission Impossible


The main difference between Action and Adventure is that where Action is trying to track down a person … Adventure is trying to track down a ‘thing’: an artefact, a museum piece, information even, and return it to rightful owner often. There’s a moral need here of the protagonist to ‘do the right thing’. Often clues to the treasure is braced in symbols, riddles, or games. The hero also needs to be highly skilled and at the top of their game in order to oppose the force of the antagonist.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life

Raiders of the Lost Ark

National Treasure

Da Vinci Code



King Kong

Life Of Pi

Lord of the Rings

Pirates of the Carribiean

Wizard Of Oz


There are so many genres and subgenres of the thriller category because they all involve a murder, which is usually a deliberate crime. So gangsters, crime bosses, the unhinged all come into the crime, murder, mystery, suspense, detective category. If the hero is being followed, chased or terrorized (or to catch the murderer) and we wait on tenterhooks for the duration of the whole film for the crime (murder) to happen by the end of the film – then I have identified those as Thriller/Espionage. The way I have chosen to break it down is that if the but if the murder happens at the beginning of the film then it goes into the Murder ‘Mystery to resolved’ category. In the straight thriller category, the Hero has a real possibility of being killed by the end of the film.

The Recruit

Airforce One

The Jackal

The Fugitive

The Pelican Brief


The Departed


The Suspense-Murder-Mystery is when the murder happens at the beginning of the film, which is usually related to the detective story. Sometimes referred to as Crime Drama. Someone has usually committed a crime in the inciting incident, and we wait for the whole film for the crime to be resolved, revenged, or put to bed somehow. One may or may not know who the murderer is, but the journey is to solve the crime.


The Manchurian Candidate

Sherlock Holmes

Murder on Orient Express.  

Suspect zero

The Usual Suspects

Basic Instinct

Silence of the Lambs.        

The Third Man. 


The two categories above also often deal with crime … but I believe the crime GANGSTER drama demands a section on its own. Gangsters work in packs like wolves, the dynamic is slightly different. It could also include conspiracy theaories.

Hustle & Flow (Hip Hop drug Gang)

Donnie Brasco (Drug gang)

The Godfather (Mafia gang)

Gone in 60 Seconds (Car thieves gang )

Bonnie & Clyde (Thieves/Murderers)

The Bandits (Thieves)

Four Brothers (The ‘Hood’ Gang)

Hardball (Neigbourhood Gangs)  

Scarface (Mafia Gang)

Point Break (Surf gang – hybrid sport)

Carlito’s Way (Drug Gang)

Casino (Mafia Drugs) 

History Of  Violence (Violence Turf wars)

Pulp Fiction (Violence, Race, Rape, Drugs)


If Action is known as the Male ultimate movie, the Melodrama is probably exactly the opposite. Often called the ‘Woman’s Weeper’. Well-drawn characters. Mostly the hero’s are women (not always). Melodrama used to terrify me, I thought it was all about weeping … until I understood what a melodrama was. There might be some tears (quite a lot of tears), but more importantly: the violence is emotional rather than physical. The antagonist can be a person; a social order; or an outside influence that places unreasonable constraints on the protagonist. The hero’s journey then, is to break the code of conduct of that social order. So Melodrama then, in my opinion, can also include, medical drama’s, even battles with drugs can actually come into this genre.

A Girl Interrupted (Mental illness)

A Dream of Passion (Societal Norms)

Kramer vs Kramer (Female Obligations)

Monster (Abuse becoming twisted)

Monster’s Ball (Death & Grief)

Erin Brokovitch (Environmental awareness)

Crazy / Beautiful (Drink, dysfunction)

Kinky Boots (Societal ‘Rejects’)

My Sister’s Keeper (Medical Emancipation)

Changeling (Childhood Abduction)

Deep End of the Ocean

I’ve Loved You For So Long (Life After Prison)

Jane Eyre (19C romance drama)

Notes on a Scandal (Older Woman Affair)

Pride and Prejudice (Societal Stigma)

Sense and Sensibility (18 century dramas)


The Biopic is often classified as a slightly less lavish version of the Epic, however for historical films such as Troy or Alexander the Great that does not apply. Either way the same principles apply:big budgets, big cast, often period, (which automatically raises the budget), takes place over a vast period of time. Usually the Biopic will occur when the main character has passed along, when they are honoured for their greatness, sometimes even for the first time, often death substantiating their immortality. The Biopic needs to be an interesting person of history that can hold our attention for a long time. Often they are tragic figures and very often controversial figures also!As such, the Biopic often has to take an angle on the character in question, which in turn can be controversial in slant and direction.

The King’s Speech (King George vi)

La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaff)

Troy (Achillies rise to power)

Alexander (The Great -Conquering Macedonia)

Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin)

Sylvia (Sylvia Plath)

Potter (Beatrix Potter)

The Passion of Ayn Rand (Ayn Rand)

Walk the Line (Johnny Cash)

The Iron Lady (Margaret Thatcher)

In the Name of the Father (The Guildford Four)

Capote (Truman Capote)

Enid (Enid Blyton)

The Aviator (Howard Hughes)

The Doors (Jim Morrison)

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (Robin Hood)

Elizabeth 1 (Elizabeth 1)

Malcolm X (Malcolm X)

Frida (Frida Kahlo)

Surviving Picasso (Pablo Picasso)

Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis)

Selena (Selena Quintallina Perez)

The Rat Pack (Based on the Rat Pack)


The Sports Film has now become an enormous genre. I’ve made it Film slash Biopic because sometimes sports films include people who are real or existing, for example The Hurricane is a real story of how Ruben Hurricane Carter was released from a prison sentence after 16 years being wrongfully accused. Invictus is the real story of how the South African rugby team won the World Cup in 1995 after Mandela’s release in 1994. A river Runs through it is a hybrid Epic about a family that bonds through fly fishing over a lengthy period of time. So the Sports genre can be a hybrid but more often than not it ends with some big event which is pertinent to that sport such as a competition or festival, some kind of celebration. Often a win or a lose situation, for example Rocky ends with the Championship match, A Knights Tale ends with a championship match, so does Girlfight, Jerry Maguire, Driven, Hardball …

The Cutting Edge (Ice Skating)

The Hurricane (Boxing – TRUE Story)

A Knight’s Tale (Jousting)

Point Break (Surfing)

The Horse Whisperer (Horse Riding)

Rocky (Boxing)

Million Dollar Baby (Boxing)

Girlfight (Boxing)

Chariots of Fire (Athletics)


Jerry Maguire (Baseball)

A River Runs Through It (Fly Fishing)

The Fast & the Furious (Car Racing)


Hardball (Baseball & Gambling)

Invictus (Rugby – True Story)

Driven (Formula 1 Racing)

The Natural (Baseball)


The term EPIC really relates to a style of film-making rather than a plot. Epics are the ultimate in movie making magic: Large sets, costumes, casts, sweeping landscapes, sweeping musical scores (designed specifically for the production), takes place over a lengthy period of time. Epics usually fall into the Biopic category, the Sports Biopic, or War dramas, demonstrated in the next two categories.There are very few clean Epics only. See if you can find more and make up your own minds … Here are a few fictional ones. Otherwise find them under Biopic or War category.

Legends of the Fall

Ladies in Lavender


Brokeback Mountain

Lord of the Rings

Harry Potter


Ben Hur

Dr Zhivago

The Titanic.


There are many people who have an indelible signature style, like John Wayne (Westerns Actor), John Ford (Westerns Director), Arthur Freed (Musicals), Alfred Hitchcock (Thriller Suspense), Errol Flynn (Romantic Adventure Swashbuckler). Here are some samples mainly modern day actors or directors that I think are great in some way with signature style.

Quentin Tarrantino (Violent anti-violence)

Woody Allen (Psycho spoofs)


Johnny Depp (Anti-hero)

Guy Ritchie (Lose Directing style)

Spike Lee (Black culture)


Ridley Scott (Blade Runner Cult)

Orson Welles (Mystery Actor)

Stanley Kubrick (Altenative Directing Choices)


The signature of Film Noir is that it can actually be any genre, but it often relates to the Murder Mystery category because the overriding atmosphere of darkness, the look and feel. Film Noir developed out of the war period of time when people were sad, desperate, suspicious of each other. As a result the tone is dark, stark, with sharp lines and camera angles, deep shadows and contrasts. Noir means ‘black’ in French and it’s an apt term. Often powerful men wielding guns, beautiful femme fatales wielding sex as fluidly as men wield guns. The femme fatale, or honey-trap as it is commonly known, is mostly for reasons of deception, betrayal, or manipulation. Film Noir can be played out at funerals, night-clubs, in gangs, or mafia locations. There can sometimes be touches of comedy (for example, The Sting has moments of Film Noir).

The Black Dahlia (Josh Hartnett)

The Third Man (Orson Welles)

Harold and Maud (Brilliantly macarbre)

A Kiss Before Dying (Matt Dillon)

Nikita (Modern Femme Fatale)

In Bruges (Collin Farrell)

The Big Heat (Somebody is going to Pay…)

Maltese Falcon (Humphrey Bogart)

The Big Sleep (Humphrey Bogart)

Double Indemnity (Femme fatale)

Sunset Boulevard (Dir: Billy Wilder)

Donnie Brasco (Al Pacino/Johnny Depp)

Wicker Park (Josh Hartnett)

The Big Heat (Glen Ford/Gloria Grahame)


Black Comedy is different from Film Noir in that it is written specifically as a comedy. But the comedy is a bit off-beat, dark, humorous in a deep, but thought provoking way.

Ally MacBeal

Death at a Funeral

Prizzi’s Honor


50 First Dates

Burn After Reading

Seven Psychopaths

Three Billboards After Ebbing, Missouri


The Dance or music category bear very little explanation – they’re joyous, lift the spirit, usually end with an up ending, also can end in a performance, festival or celebration of some kind – generally the feeling is uplifting, even if it’s down its up (e.g. Black Swan.)

The Company

Save the Last Dance

Country Strong


Coyote Ugly


Step Up

Dance With Me

Dirty Dancing

Havanna Nights

White Nights



Saturday Night Fever

Black Swan

Center Stage

Take the Lead

Music From the Heart


August Rush

Across the Universe


Prison Dramas are becoming a huge category and as such might be forming their own genre. Real or fictional people have their own stories to tell of whether they were rightly or wrongly convicted, how the escaped the Law, and whether that law was ‘fair’ to them or not. Often they take a moral stance on the hero’s position, sometimes they can be real stories too. Notice how people in prisons are not only men. Women are developing their own take on prison dramas. Sometimes this category demands legal eagle dramas … or some kind of legal aid assistance.

Shawshank Redemption

Dead Man Walking



Paradise Road

Prison Break

Bad Girls

Within These Walls

Last Dance

Cool Hand Luke

Man In the Iron Mask


Kiss of the Spiderwoman

Brokedown Palace

Birdman of Alcatraz

The Great Escape


Need I say more, drugs are a huge chunk or what makes up the modern western world. It’s not surprising that several of these stories have emerged. Also be aware that drugs can contain any addictions, including alcohol or pills. So for example, House (The lead character) is addicted to pills for pain. This can be just as debilitating as any other drugs and in fact more sly and difficult to determine because they are often prescription drugs.



Riding in Cars with Boys

Hustle & Flow


The Wire


Requiem for a Dream


Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

Carlito’s Way

American Gangster




The objective of Horror is to TERRIFY! PETRIFY! UNNERVE! SHATTER! It explores our most ghastly traits and existentialist fears of the unknown. Set in spooky mansions or dark locations with serial killers or vampires, Horror preys on our most primal fears and paranoias, you either ‘get it’ or you don’t. The violence is often escalated to such ridiculous heights that you have to laugh, so they can be called dark comedies. Teenagers dig screaming with their friends and laughing their heads off. … There’s a time and a place for horror. I wouldn’t suggest watching on your own though! Tread carefully or you’ll tread on your dreams … Often amplified by CGI and film noir techniques to depict with satanic rituals and characters like Dracula, Frankenstein:

Nightmare in Elm Street


From Dusk Till Dawn


Interview with the vampire

Blair Witch Project

The Exorcist


Texas Chainsaw Massare



War dramas are self-explanatory. War is something that has happened or is happening in many countries all over the world and will continue to be a source of debate and controversy. War dramas are the only genre where ‘the most extreme’ is acceptable by all standards. So the most exptreme forms of violence and emotions occur in war dramas.  War can be seen also as Epics. Have a look at Gone with the Wind, Reds, The Patriot, Braveheart, often huge sets, huge budgets. If you haven’t seen it before … watch The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Not a huge budget, Irish film, but one of the saddest and most poignant you’ll ever see. And if you haven’t seen some oldies, The Eagles Dare, Casablanca, do yourselves a favour … Being one of the most difficult geners to portray authentically because of the extreme behaviours of the genre, Platoon, The Pianist, Glory, The Last Samurai! There’s so much in this genre to learn from and enjoy with good solid storytelling techniques and poignancy. Enjoy!

Gone with the Wind

Hart’s War

Pearl Habour

The Patriot


Beyond Borders

Blood Diamond

Saving Private Ryan

GI Jane


Courage Under Fire


The Wind that Shakes the Barley


Private Benjamin

Star Wars

Apocalypse Now

Black Hawk Down

War Horse

Dances with Wolves

The Last Samurai


The Pianist

Where Eagles Dare

The Siege

Born on the Fourth of July