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Screenwriter David Diamond brings Hollywood lessons to Shalhevet

TEACH:    Mr. Diamond just finished co-writing a book that explains the business of screenwriting.  BP Photo by Jonathan Diamond.

TEACH: Mr. Diamond just finished co-writing a book that explains the business of screenwriting. BP Photo by Jonathan Diamond.

TEACH: Mr. Diamond just finished co-writing a book that explains the business of screenwriting. BP Photo by Jonathan Diamond.

TEACH: Mr. Diamond just finished co-writing a book that explains the business of screenwriting. BP Photo by Jonathan Diamond.

Screenwriter David Diamond brings Hollywood lessons to Shalhevet

 

While David Diamond is an accomplished screenwriter with credits in big-budget films, he tries to stay humble.

One of his high school yearbook quotes, he told the Boiling Point, still sums him up pretty well. It’s by Kurt Vonnegut:

If a person with a demonstrably ordinary mind like mine will devote himself to a work of the imagination, that work will in turn tempt and tease that mind into cleverness.

Mr. Diamond, whose son Harry is a junior and daughter Hannah an alumna, will be teaching screenwriting to upperclassmen this year.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Diamond later moved to Los Angeles and first thought about screenwriting while reading scripts for a television producer.

“Part of my job was reading and evaluating scripts for him,” Mr. Diamond said. “After a while I convinced myself I could do it better than most of the writers whose scripts I was reading.

“I was wrong for a very long time—at least it felt like a long time to me. Eventually I figured it out.”

Mr. Diamond gave credit to his writing partner, David Weissman, whom he had known from Akiba Hebrew Academy (now called Barrack Hebrew Academy) back in Philadelphia. Their writing credits include The Family Man, Old Dogs, and When in Rome, along with several “uncredited” films, meaning he and Mr. Weissman did not receive credit even though they worked on them and were paid — a common practice in screenwriting according to Mr. Diamond.

He and Mr. Weissman have just finished working on a book called Bulletproof: Writing Scripts that Don’t Get Shut Down, which Mr. Diamond called a “practical screenwriting guide.”

“It’s very easy to learn the mechanics of screenwriting — what’s harder is to understand where your script fits into the landscape of studios and streaming services and wherever movies are made and distributed,” he said.

“If you are invested in selling your work or having a career as as a screenwriter, it’s important to understand the factors that other people in the business consider, not just the writer. Because you can’t survive as a screenwriter without other people buying your stuff.”

He is new to teaching, though he recently spent a week teaching at Belmont University in Tennessee.

In an email, Mr. Diamond said he planned to offer students “a new way of looking at movies and television and a new way to express themselves and their creativity.”  He said he hoped his classroom would have “a vibrant creative atmosphere”

“The format of the class is to go start to finish through the entire process of writing a screenplay, he said, “beginning with coming up with the ideas and understanding the difference between movie ideas and ideas that may be interesting or funny but not sufficient to carry an entire movie.”

“We’ll spend a unit talking about character, we’ll talk about structure, we’ll talk about the mechanics of screenwriting. We’ll talk about every aspect of what goes into it, and at every step along the way we will be reflecting on why we are doing it in the way we are doing it.”

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Screenwriter David Diamond brings Hollywood lessons to Shalhevet