Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Writing Films Is Worth The Sweat

From time to time, especially in the wake of rejection or other news which requires one to take a deep breath, smash a few plates and avoid answering calls from your accountant, every screenwriter wonders: Why the hell am I still doing this?

Here’s a good way of answering that question: Read Mark Cousins wonderful article Movies Made Me in the latest issue of Prospect magazine. In this piece, he plots the influence movies have had on his and society’s opinions and habits in the past fifty or so years.

Cousins talks about how specific films helped form his sense of fashion, his knowledge of sexuality, his awareness of the larger world out there, and so on. But also how films have boosted national identities, challenged racial stereotypes and even managed to tell the truth about big emotions such as fear and loneliness.

Admittedly films can’t literally depict the horrors of war or slums (films don’t smell …), but they can certainly set trends, comment critically on social issues, raise uncomfortable questions and so on.

In my own little personal history, there have been many films which left a deep impression on me. Like George Lucas’s American Graffiti, which made me realize I was a teenager, or Kaos by the Taviani brothers which made me realize I should grow up, to name just a couple.

Someone sat down and wrote the scripts for those films. They sweated it out. They put those words in the actors’ mouths and conjured up the scenery and the drama within which these tales were told. They created these worlds and characters which moved me and changed me, and which became milestones in the narrative that is my past.

What a wonderful legacy!

That’s why writing films is worth the sweat.

2 comments:

Benjamin Ray said...

Hi Dave,

Your article brings back memories.

I met couples who got married because of the movie "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease" (John Travolta)

I get shivers when I talk to these couples. Their progress in life is directly proportional to the Disco era. They still remember the iconic dialouges and scenes.

To the writers of these movies and songs. Thank you.

Benjamin Ray
Screenwriter
www.hollywoodtoronto.com

Raving Dave Herman said...

Hear , hear!

It's so easy to obsess about how much (or how little) screenwriters receive for their efforts.

But one of the main motives for people to write, is not so much to take, but rather to GIVE.

Imagine having given someone their most romantic or scary or eye-opening experience ...

Dave