Wednesday 8 December 2010

The Essence Of The Past: Writing What's Important

Saying "Nobody likes good movies anymore" is spoken from the point of view of the powerless. If you are involved in making films and long for the days when they made good movies, then that position isn't good enough. You need to Gandhi up and "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

We've all had conversations where with sit around bemoaning the lack of good stories in modern movies; in fact, most of the film blogosphere is a response to that very thing. We blog about old movies because we miss them. They speak to us in a way modern, predictable studio pictures don't. We've all had these conversations countless times, both offline and online. We may be a minority but it's not as small as you think. If you write a good script, people will make it. If you make a good film, people will watch it. The problem is that we work too hard, too early in our careers, trying to write for studios and execs and the lowest common denominator. That's YOUR choice, it's not reality.

The reality is that there are enough people watching Jimmy Stewart films and spending their evenings with Ginger Rogers. Your audience is there: your job is to not be too shy to bring out the things you respond to. What's the point in being excited by John Wayne and brought to tears by Katharine Hepburn, only to waste all that energy writing a sci-fi film that hardly has any trace of you in it?

If you miss the innocence of Chaplin or the optimism of Jimmy Stewart; that means it resonates with you, that means it's truthful - and it means the world needs it. It's a part of YOU that gets hidden externally and internally. For example, with me: I long for the spirit of Chaplin to be in cinema today. It's hidden externally because: The world values crude humor, obvious jokes and rehashed routines. It's hidden internally because often I tell myself it's not relevant, it's in the past, etc.

But it's not in the past! The ideal of 'Chaplin' lives on in my life every day. The film world and the world at large seems somewhat dysfunctional for not having enough Chaplin-like energy, humor, amusement and sillyness in it. That's what I respond to and that's what I need to get into my work a lot more than I do.

What is it for you? What thing do you respond to that the world barely recognises? When is a time the world was more attuned to it? How is it missing in your work? How are you going to take the essence of what you love and apply it to your work?

Care to share?


  1. I find that movies adopted from a good novel often tell a better story. Sci-fi like Harry Potter or Lord of the Ring. Thrillers like Shuttering Island. Oh that reminds me of Leonardo Dicaprio, my favourite actor, I love Revolutionary Road (and more of course) - this brings to Kate Winslet and I like The Reader.

  2. I love a movie that has a good meaning to it, a story to tell so you feel like you have gained something from watching it. I enjoy good films and wish there were more people being creative and telling the story instead of making another sequel.

  3. When you say we're very different people (your comment on my blog), were you referring to my comment here?