Recently, I received the ebook The Complete Guide to Screenwriting for Children’s Film and Television by author Motti Aviram. The book fit my interests well because in the past, I worked in the film and television industry. Currently as a contributing writer to StudentFilmmakers Magazine, I mainly cover how to articles relating to one of the stages of production. When I read the book, I was excited to learn more about a field that interests me, screenwriting. Because I’m now a teacher and a parent to two kids under age five, writing film and television for children sounded intriguing to me. I was eager to learn as I read.
Screenwriting Book Review
In reading the book, I liked that the author explained children’s perspective to the reader.One of the main focuses of the book was that when a screenwriter approaches a screenplay from a place of respecting the children, the resulting script will be stronger. Although I have the background of being a certified teacher and a mom, I realize that many screenwriters might not have worked with children previously. The author uses several examples and comparisons to help the reader gain a good understanding of how children think before delving in to the screenwriting process.
Another successful part delves into specific examples about child psychology from the author’s experience. The author, Aviram, explains that he put his own children’s television show in front of a kindergarten class to learn what children like. In this process, he learned that children can seem indifferent to a show for many reasons, such as upcoming parties, ecocentrism and age. One of his realizations was that even children as young as one can understand quite difficult concepts. Any parent would find the idea of children being able to surpass our assumptions understandable, but many screenwriters lacking experience with children would greatly benefit from the information.
I found it intriguing that the author wrote from his own experience interviewing and observing children. Speaking from experience really made the text more trustworthy to me. Whenever I read an instructional text, I wonder whether the author really has enough experience to be more knowledgeable than the average reader. Because Aviram interviewed multiple children over an extended amount of time, I found his background to be quite suitable for the topic.
Covering more than just child psychology, the text also clearly explains some tips and ideas for screenwriters. I liked a description the author gave that explained why several different successful children’s televisions shows, such as Dora and Bob the Builder, filled needs that children have. Screenwriters should think from the perspective of the child. Would a child look up to the character and relate to the character? Can the script get children up and moving around when they watch the show? Popular children’s shows have an audience with children for a reason and can be a great example to look to to figure out what works.
While reading, I found the author’s style of writing to be very clear. Aviram wrote about three main tips for screenwriters. Because he structured the tips clearly, I was able to easily understand the actions I could take to be a better screenwriter. I liked that he used bullet points and bold font to make the foundational tips more obvious to the reader. The list of tips made it easy for me to self-evaluate which area I needed to work on in the future.
Something I thought was useful in the ebook was that it covered the basics of writing a screenplay. Since I haven’t written a screenplay before, I needed the reminder of the different elements that help make up a good screenplay: the exposition, the inciting incident, the plot, the second turning point, and the resolution. Aviram does a good job of showing an example screenplay. Then the author breaks down how each part of the example screenplay fits with the elements that a good screenplay needs. Although some screenwriters wouldn’t need this reminder, I found it really practical to learn.
Since writing is something I really enjoy, this book was a good fit for me. I remembered some of the parts about child psychology from a graduate school class I took, but the author explained the topic in a unique way. Instead of simply describing children as a whole, the author took a nuanced approach, while examining children of different ages as needing different styles of writing. As an educator, I would recommend the book to anyone interested in writing a well structured screenplay for children’s television or film.