Ben Garant’s Screenwriting Masterclass

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You will most likely recognize Robert Ben Garant as Deputy Travis Junior from Reno 911! What you may not know is that Ben, together with writing partner Thomas Lennon, is responsible for some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters in recent memory. A few years ago, Ben and Tom wrote about their careers as screenwriters in the hilarious book Writing Movies For Fun and Profit.

In this class, given at Loyola University, Ben gives a serious discussion of his experience in the film industry and how he has been able to build a career as a screenwriter for hire.


Robert Ben Garant and Tom Lennon’s Top 10

From the Criterion Collection. Original Post.

Robert Ben Garant and Tom Lennon’s Top 10 Films
1. My Life as a Dog
Lasse Hallström

Alec Guiness said this was the greatest film ever made in his autobiography My Name Escapes Me, so I rented it and I’ve cried pretty much every day since, just thinking about it. Alec Guiness was not wrong on this one. The film is so wonderfully Scandinavian. Like a trip to Ikea . . . that makes you cry. My Life as a Dog will stay with you forever. —TL

2. Brazil
Terry Gilliam

Brazil coming out when I was fifteen was like a perfect storm. I had grown up on Monty Python, and loved Gilliam—and then this massive film blew my brains out all over my Milk Duds at the Fine Arts Theatre in downtown Chicago. I saw it twice the week it came out. I didn’t know about all the studio drama surrounding it— like Terry Gilliam taking out ads in Variety to get the film released—until years later. This is probably the most quoted film in my family. “Trouble with your ducts?” “Salt?” and “They don’t fix themselves, sir!” are all still in heavy rotation in my daily conversation. —TL

3. The Ice Storm
Ang Lee

One of the most gloriously depressing films ever made, an awkward tribute to the dysfunctional family in seventies America. And the wallpaper in many scenes is a tacky sort of perfection. So if you’re in a mood to get pretty bummed out, and look at some really authentic wallpaper, look no further. This film is like getting punched in the stomach with a rotary phone. —TL

4. Bicycle Thieves
Vittorio De Sica

The best movie ever made. Period. —TL

5. This Is Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner

The funniest film that ever will be made. It invented an entire genre. It’s impossible for me to quantify the impact this film had on my sense of humor. When I meet young people who have not seen this film, I am at first dismayed and then overjoyed for them, because I know they get to experience the thrill of the “this one goes to eleven” speech for the very first time. This film is a master class in deadpan comedy. —TL

6. Hard Boiled
John Woo

I’ve probably seen this film a hundred times. It’s gunfights as ballet—and the two coolest, most bad-ass movie cops ever Not played by Clint Eastwood —RBG

7. Hopscotch
Ronald Neame

This is a perfect comedy. Walter Matthau in the James Bond role versus Ned Beatty as head of the CIA. With Glenda Jackson, Herbert Lom as the head of the KGB, and Sam Waterston as “the new kid.” If more studio people saw Hopscotch, they would let old people be in more movies. —RBG

8. Crumb
Terry Zwigoff

A film as depressing as it is inspiring. Heartbreaking, thoughtful, fascinating. Bitter and sweet, cool and creepy. It kinda makes you want to become an artist, and kinda makes you want to slit your wrists. It washes over you—leaving you really wanting to take a shower and wash it off. —RBG

9. Stagecoach
John Ford

The perfect movie. Perfect structure, perfect characters. Every character in every movie made since Stagecoach is a version of aStagecoach character. —RBG

10. Sullivan’s Travels
Preston Sturges

The most wonderful film about filmmaking ever. It makes fun of Hollywood and directors and studios, while writing the greatest love letter to Hollywood of all time. And most of all, it really, really makes you want to have sex with Veronica Lake. —RBGovie made since Stagecoach is a version of aStagecoach character. —RB

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