GREAT Exposure for Contest Winners & Finalists! Book Review by Genie Davis - an eMail screenplay collaboration between Hungary and L.A. (includes first draft script 'The Fall In Budapest').

Critique by Genie Davis, screenwriter:

If you've ever felt the need for some creative inspiration, "," by Alan C. Baird with Anikó J. Bartos, can provide an electrifying jump start.

Narrated primarily in correspondence form, this book details the Internet writing collaboration between an American screenwriter and a Hungarian financial manager. Their work together offers a revealing look inside that all-too-rare moment of epiphany when intellect and spirit connect.

Built around the e-mails of two widely-separated pen pals who have a shared love of storytelling, with riveting true tales to tell, "" chronicles the birth of both a screenplay and a friendship.

Along the way, this book cogently addresses many issues connected with the collaboration on a dramatic script, and affords a glimpse into the dynamic nature of the creative process.

The result of this partnership, a compelling, surprisingly funny and equally heartbreaking thriller entitled "The Fall in Budapest," is included in its entirety at the book's end. The script is a fast, fun read, incorporating the kind of rich subtext which attracted the attention of several production companies and international screenwriting competitions.

Also included are short fiction and essays written by Mr. Baird, and discussed by both writers. This fictional material serves both as a touching, finely-crafted stand-alone collection, and as strong evidence of the power in finding an intellectual soul mate. As the level of intimacy grows in this relationship, his prose blossoms. Always linguistically lovely, the spirit of his work is clearly heightened by Ms. Bartos' encouragement for, and appreciation of, his writing.

Their screenwriting project began with the American's attempts to convince his European friend to permanently record her vivid childhood remembrances of the 1956 Hungarian uprising. His only half-serious suggestion to include this material in a screenplay, and her eager acceptance of his plan, naturally progressed from a teacher-student screenwriting tutelage to a vital exchange among equals.

Self-published with the new Print On Demand technology, "" is obviously a labor of love: the love of writing and wordplay, enhanced by the strength of a nourishing friendship.

This book can easily serve as a primer for the pleasurable rewards offered by a creative collaboration of any sort - in particular, a long distance screenwriting partnership. However, the real core of this book, prompting me to recommend it highly, is the insight into the ferocious joy of discovering an artistic connection, and into the nature of writing as a journey - enhanced by the development of a friendship across nine time zones.

Taking this trip with the authors is a singularly entertaining and delightful experience.

(Genie Davis has written eleven screenplays in just over two years. Represented by Shapiro Lichtman Stein, she's currently writing for the ABC Daytime Television series "Port Charles"; and has written, produced, and directed numerous television commercials, corporate videos, and documentaries.)

Updated: 09/28/1999

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