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From Chariots of Fire to The King's Speech

From Chariots of Fire to The King's Speech

Writing Biopics and Docudramas

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Alan Rosenthal


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
216 pages, 6 x 9


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About the Book

Over the past decade, movie audiences have become hungry for films based on real people and historical events. Never was this more evident than during the best-picture showdown between The King’s Speech and The Social Network during the 2011 Academy Awards, a scene then repeated, with Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty in the 2013 awards.. While Hollywood moguls have come to recognize the box-office revenue and critical acclaim that accompany such films and are now fast-tracking many docudramas into theaters, there remains a need for more reality-based film scripts.

In From “Chariots of Fire” to “The King’s Speech,” writer, director, and producer Alan Rosenthal presents a manual for screenwriters to develop their bio-pic or docudrama from concept to completion. This comprehensive guide begins with an overview of the genre before providing screenwriters with all the techniques and insights needed to navigate the often intimidating landscape of screenwriting for reality-based scripts. Included within the volume are tips for such challenges as inception and research, developing dialogue and narration, and capably addressing any legal and rights issues that may arise. Also included are appendixes containing useful marketing tips and broadcast guidelines.

A practical, down-to-earth manual for experienced and novice screenwriters alike, From “Chariots of Fire” to “The King’s Speech”  is the only manual dedicated explicitly to writing the bio-pic and docudrama. Rosenthal shares his decades of experience in the film industry, along with hands-on tools and maps, to help screenwriters completely master this popular film genre.


Alan Rosenthal, a professor of communications at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is a documentary filmmaker with fifty films to his credit as writer, director, or producer. His most recent film is the history docudrama The First Fagin, made in Australia. He is a visiting professor and workshop provider at most world major film schools, including those in the U.K., Australia, Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Rosenthal is the author of nine books, including Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Videos (now in its fourth edition) for SIU Press.


“Alan Rosenthal’s From “Chariots of Fire” to “The King’s Speech” richly examines from a practitioner’s perspective what constructs many deserving recent and important films. Rosenthal’s interviews with key creative contributors inform his study with invaluable insights, along with extensive, illustrative extracts from the treatments and scripts of earlier and recent films.”—Steve Lipkin

“Right now there is nothing like this on the academic or mass market. By using recent blockbuster and Academy Award–nominee writers as his constant references and case studies, the author has created a pop culture overtone, as well as a how-to book on writing the biopic and the docudrama, that should attract a wide variety of curious film writers and aficionados.”—Ned Eckhardt, author of Documentary Filmmakers Handbook