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Shoot This One: Essays by Javier Grillo-Marxuach

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How do you become a television writer? What does it take to create your own show? Did the writers of Lost really have a plan, or were they making it all up as they went?

In a career spanning far longer than he cares to admit, Javier Grillo-Marxuach has not only written for some of your favorite (and not-so-favorite) shows — from the Emmy Award-winning Lost, to Charmed, Medium, Law & Order: SVU, and seaQuest — but also worked as a network executive, created a comic book that became a cult television series, co-hosted a popular podcast, and contributed essays on the entertainment industry to such publications as The Los Angeles Review of Books, io9.com and Apex Magazine.

Collected for the first time, Grillo-Marxuach’s occasionally far-too-revealing essays offer a true insider’s look into the good, the bad, and the frequently bat-guano insane inner workings of the entertainment industry. If you have ever wondered how shows actually get on the air, how it feels to win an Emmy Award, and why a grown man would have to swear off watching Star Wars for an entire year, then this irreverent collection is not only the book you want, it’s also the book you need!

"Javi is willing to open up the hood and tell you exactly how it's done... if it is your ambition to be a writer -- or any kind of storyteller, really -- reading this book will not just entertain you but spare you some heartache and headaches as you embark on this magical, heartbreaking, brain-melting path."

-- from the introduction by Maureen Ryan, TV Critic,
Huffington Post

256 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 16, 2015

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About the author

Javier Grillo-Marxuach

55 books16 followers

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
1,167 reviews121 followers
July 28, 2019
Series of essays on being a television writer. His description of the day he heard Donald Trump sing the theme from Green Acres alone would make it worth reading.

His take-down of David Mamet pleased me more than I should probably admit.

Grillo-Marxuach is a brilliant, talented, funny, and generous writer who has helped create some of my favorite shows. I laughed out loud many times. And now I'm REALLY GRUMPY we didn't get his Xena reboot.

Great bus book.
Profile Image for Jon Arnold.
Author 40 books22 followers
April 18, 2015
Much of this writing was originally published on Grillo-Marxauch’s Livejournal blog. This isn’t intended to disparage the quality of writing, rather it’s to give blogging a very good name. Grillo-Marxauch puts the same level of care and attention into blogs as into scripts with the result that each piece is beautifully constructed and serves a purpose. As he explains, he’s wary of directly introducing people into the industry but this book makes up for it with solid advice (along with the Children of Tendu podcast he co-hosts). He’s willing to share much practical advice on the travails of life as a screenwriter, ranging from where you need to live (LA unsurprisingly) through script construction to hard-won lessons about how to act on social media. Even the most cautionary tales are told with self-deprecating wit and good humour and help prepare the nascent screenwriter for the pitfalls of success and failure. The only negative I can find with the selection is that his ‘Lost Will and Testament’ essay wasn’t written in time to be included here

This isn’t entirely absorbed with the US TV industry though. It’s pleasing that Grillo-Marxauch is sure-footed on wider events. Refreshingly, he doesn’t conform to what’s seen as a standard Hollywood liberal template either, confessing to a teenage flirtation with the works of Ayn Rand - he understands the other side of the coin because he made those arguments himself once upon a time. The highlight here is a tribute to a friend who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks accompanied by controlled rage at how the dead of that day have been exploited to pursue a wider political agenda. The personal nature of the essay means it hits far harder than the standard essays excoriating the regime in charge at the time.

The final element that makes this collection compulsive is Grillo-Marxauch’s ability to open up his own life and examine his own flaws. He’s remarkably clear eyed on this, explaining issues of body image and depression without once requesting sympathy, even indirectly. You get a real sense of the human being behind the keyboard here, the flawed being who doesn’t have all the answers. Having met Javi on several occasions I can attest that he’s fine and witty company, happily that translates to the page.
Profile Image for Scott Daly.
21 reviews24 followers
January 1, 2019
Shoot This One is a collection of essays by TV Writer/Producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach. The essay topics are broad, ranging from insights into the business side of TV production, how pilots get ordered, the night Grillo-Marxuach won an Emmy for Lost, and a fair amount of political commentary from the mid 2000s (oh how I long for the time when George W Bush was the biggest of our political problems). Most of these are transplanted from Grillo-Marxuach's blog entries.

I appreciated the author's writing style. The essays read quickly and enjoyable. Because most of these are just blog entries there's not a lot of effort made to sound grandiose. Some of the topics are more interesting than others. The insights into the world of TV production were fascinating and the best essay of the bunch is the one exclusive to this book: "I Am A Fucking Plagiarist" where Grillo-Marxuach deals with the complexity of homage and theft in a world where every idea probably already exists. While I agree with just about every single one of the author's political opinions and found his view of Gun Control enlightening, it's not necessarily what I set out to read when I picked up a book of essays from a TV writer.

Regardless, this quick read provided me with some entertainment and some laughs and spurred my desire to once again revisit Lost with a fine-toothed analytical comb. Maybe one day...
Profile Image for Denise Nader.
122 reviews26 followers
May 20, 2017
Este libro es una colección de los ensayos escritos por Javier Grillo-Marxuach en LiveJournal. En conjunto, se puede decir que narran la historia de un geek apasionado por la escritura que busca triunfar en la TV sin perderse en el camino. Y además nos muestra ese camino: un recorrido lleno de egos, de trampas, de fracasos y victorias. Hablan de un mundo extraño, al que muy pocos acceden y la mayoría sólo conocemos del otro lado del espejo: la pantalla. Hablan de la fe como soporte y como eje.
Cada día me convenzo más de que no basta con que un texto sea bueno: el resultado del proceso de escritura va mucho más allá del guión producido. El trabajo adquiere una dimensión más real, más humana y reveladora cuando quien está detrás de éste es una persona como Grillo-Marxuach: lúcida, implacable consigo misma, de humor incansable, honesta y valiente para atreverse a mostrarnos la intimidad, los sacrificios y resultados del oficio con todos sus matices.
Profile Image for Scott Williams.
617 reviews9 followers
August 19, 2016
I knew the author's work without knowing his name. I started following him on social media after he was announced as the writer of the Xena reboot and found that I liked him. This collection of essays has cemented that feeling. Insightful, witty and overall entertaining!
240 reviews4 followers
January 22, 2020
A charming - and sometimes harrowing - collection of insights about the entertainment industry, from someone who has been in the trenches for a couple of decades. It’s not a cohesive manuscript, but several essays that bounce around in time and from subject to subject, recounting tough industry moments, offering advice, and sharing his opinions on the politics of the early 2000s. All told with a strong, undeniable authorial voice.
Profile Image for Tara Gelsomino.
148 reviews31 followers
September 22, 2017
The essays were far more political/general than Writing/TV industry based than I expected. And most of them seemed long-winded/overwritten. A little disappointing.
70 reviews
April 20, 2015
Javi wrote for The Tartan when I was editor. This book is a loose collection of essays, mostly about his career writing for television. He's a smart guy, and he’s got a really high degree of introspection about the work he’s doing.
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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