Movies That Inspired Me

I didn’t receive any Writing Prompt submissions this week, and I was playing around with an idea last night, but didn’t actually write anything.  I know.  Besides, my mind was complete rubbish by the time I wanted to write and I was misspelling words or leaving them out altogether.  I decided it best to just write down a few notes about the idea so I wouldn’t lose it by morning.  So for today, I thought I would talk about movies.  I am a screenwriter, and I don’t think I really have as yet…

A friend and I were recently discussing movies, and how different our taste in film is.  If she likes a movie, it’s a guarantee I won’t, so I usually don’t bother once she’s told me she really liked something, and vice versa.  We met in film school, so the basis of our friendship is clearly not founded on our mutual love of the same films.  The funny thing is, she likes my screenwriting, so what does that say?

It got me started thinking about film in general, and those that I like, and have been inspired by.  I once tried to make a top ten list of my favorite films, and ended up with a list of seventeen and that was lumping Disney and Pixar films into two.  I was heavily influenced by Disney princess films, still am. 🙂 And I think the people at Pixar are brilliant, and I sometimes muse at how impressed they are with themselves when I see the most amazing effects in their films; like Sully’s hair blowing in the breeze, or a puff of dust being stirred on one of Andy’s shelves.  Amazing.

The following is a list of a few movies that changed my perception, my writing, or me in no particular order, except maybe when I watched them.

DarkCrystalPosterThe Dark Crystal – Most children I know personally could never watch this film.  I’m not even sure how I was able to.  It’s dark (pun intended) and a little scary, but the cast is entirely made up of puppets.  Most 80s kids are Jim Henson fans, but most of my friends preferred Labyrinth to the Crystal.  Not me.  This is still on my top ten list because of its impact on me when I was a kid.  The idea of a magical world torn apart, the story of an unlikely hero, and the themes of good vs evil, immortality, and sacrifice were all highly effective on my young mind.

PrincessBridePosterThe Princess Bride – I don’t know anyone who does not like this movie.  It’s wonderful.  I would later grow to admire its writer, William Goldman, who also wrote Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, the screenplay for Misery, among many others.  He has a great sense of humor and is one of my favorite writers.  The Princess Bride impacted me in the sense of combining fantasy and reality, or the reality we create.  It is clever, funny, romantic, and full of adventure and swashbuckling, and it is one of the films that would change my storytelling.

BraveheartPosterBraveheart – I saw Braveheart shortly after my first visit to England.  This was the film that got me interested in Medieval times.  The film was gritty and brutal, but it was also romantic, and highlighted the values of honor and loyalty.  As I had already discovered I was an Anglophile, this just further developed my passion for learning its history, but also, that writers have the opportunity to sway perspective.  As writers, we create empathy for our characters.  Unlikeable characters can be given a reason for their traits, and become likeable in the eyes of the viewer depending on how the story is told.  Current example: Malificent.  *I’m not saying she’s unlikeable per say, as she has always been one of my favorite villains.

Sense&SensibiltyPosterSense and Sensibility – This film was my introduction to Jane Austen.  Again, shortly after my first visit to England.  I was immediately obsessed.  I started watching all the film variants of Austen’s work, long before I decided to actually read any of them.  Maybe that’s the difference in being a screenwriter vs an author…?  I have watched this and Pride & Prejudice so many times, that if we are ever trapped on an island, or whatever, I could recite or reenact this for you.  It was this film along with Braveheart that encouraged me to include facets of the time periods into my work.

ElizabethPosterElizabeth – My continuing fascination with English history led me to Elizabeth, and my subsequent adoration of Cate Blanchett, one of my favorite actresses.  I have become completely fascinated with the Tudors and their times because of this film.  The country was torn apart by war, political, and religious issues, so maybe not the best of times, but Elizabeth, a woman (*gasp), became one of the country’s greatest monarchs.  She should never have become queen, but it was her destiny, and even this influenced my writing.  (I could write a great deal about Queen Elizabeth I.)  It was while writing my screenplay entitled, 217, that I discovered my fascination with certain time periods were all separated by roughly 200 years…revelation.  *You can read about it in the Excerpts section.

CrouchingTigerHiddenDragonPosterCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – I have long enjoyed foreign films and this is still one of the best I’ve ever watched.  It combines so many elements I enjoy; unrequited love, history (I’m a sucker for a period piece – can you tell by the list?), fantasy, and women who are not relegated to side/nondescript characters.  It also has beautifully choreographed fight sequences.  All of this further influenced my writing in regards to combining different elements, which is probably why I enjoy writing “fantasy”.  I was driven to watch any and all films that were even remotely related to this style, and I did find Hero with Jet Li, Tony Leung, and Maggie Cheung.  They utilized a wonderful technique of telling the same story from different points of view and changing the color of their clothes and surroundings to highlight the difference.  Lovely.

So how about you?  Which films influenced you?

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Let’s Celebrate (With a Little Reflection)

200I’ve read a few times that as writers we need to celebrate any and all victories.  Because the process of writing can take a while to find resolution, and due to the thankless nature of our chosen path, writers suffer from a whole range of maladies, so we need to remind ourselves of why we do what we do and find joy whenever possible.  Depending on the victory; a finished chapter, first draft, final rewrite, etc. the reward should be commensurate to the accomplishment.  Maybe you buy yourself a new pen or keyboard, you enjoy that limited reserve you drink only for special occasions, or whatever it is you would do for yourself for getting over that particular hurdle.

Hence, I am celebrating that after a couple of weeks of watching that follower counter teeter (and why I finally removed it) at the 200 mark, it’s official.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!  Now don’t go anywhere, okay? 🙂

Now the question…what shall I do to celebrate?  When I hit 50 followers I shared a little personal insight into the evolution of my first script, Fate(s), somehow I missed the 100 follower mark, but did post a little celebration for 100 posts, but this means a great deal more to me – that you share your time with me.  So I thought I’d share a little about myself today, something I rarely do.

My name is Rachael, but I do write under a pseudonym.  In the novel Timeline by Michael Crichton, one of my favorite books, I fell in love with the character of Andre Marek, portrayed by the lovely Gerard Butler in the horrible film.  By the way, it is one of my goals to remake this.  The character loved all things about the past, learned how to speak old languages, and to swing a broadsword, so he was the perfect companion to travel into medieval times with, and as I had always felt a little out of place myself, I took his name for my own.

It began when I was nineteen, when I traveled to England for the first time.  I can still remember to this day, even though my memory is detestable, the feeling of seeing England for the first time.  We hadn’t even landed, we were still flying overhead.  My feet hadn’t touched the earth, but I had the feeling that I was home.  That moment changed a great many things for me.  Not only has it affected my writing, but every other facet of my life.  (This will give you a little insight into my love of Jane Austen, Dragon Age, British actors (Hiddleston, Cumberbatch, Tennant, Firth, and so many more), etc.) *Quick edit, I mentioned the boys, therefore I must insert pictures.

HiddlesInBomberJacketBenedict(closeup)

Now this is the strange thing.  My sperm-donor, yes, I will say that aloud due to the fact I’ve had no association with this person since I was maybe five years old, was English.  So it makes me wonder about what things are inherent.  I am English by proxy basically, but am more drawn to it than anything else I can think of, besides my writing.

I’m pretty certain I was born a story teller.  When I was a kid, I used to tell stories about how things, accidents even purposeful ones, happened which can be construed as lies.  Let’s call it early lessons in imagination.  I can sort of remember saying a monster burned a whole in the back of the car seat with the cigarette lighter…yeah, that was me.  I maintained that “story” for years, never fessing up.  I was also stubborn, a somewhat know-it-all, with a lack of respect for authority.  Couldn’t tell you why.  Oh, and this was all before I became a teenager.

When I was in fourth grade, I started working on my biography, because, you know, so much had happened in my nine years.  But it was in fifth grade I was given a blank hardcover book to create a story all of my own design.  I think that’s when I was hooked.  I wrote about running away from home after my bicycle was wrecked and living in the back of a convenience store of a family friend.  There’s a whole lot of backstory to that one.

I tried my hand at short stories, poetry, lyrics, stage plays, and novels but nothing ever felt right.  I never really finished anything either.  Not until I decided to go back to school and took my first screenwriting class.  That’s when I found my passion.  And that’s why I decided to write this blog.  To share what I’ve learned, to keep track of my progress (you know, because of the bad memory thing), and hopefully help a young writer find their passion.  I have a few friends who are still struggling to find theirs, and I can’t imagine living a life not connected to something.

So I must thank, Mr. Sean Clark, my university advisor who introduced me to screenwriting.  It changed my life.  My writing gives me drive.  It makes me look at the world and continually think, “What if…”.  It allows my imagination to run wild.  And it is for these things I will forever be grateful.

And to all of you, my new friends who are on this journey with me…

Thank-Youxx, Rach

Now…how should I celebrate? 😉

Open to Suggestion

Hi all!

suggestion_box_icon

I am calling on my fellow bloggers – Who or what blogs do you recommend?  Offer up to me some of your favorite writing, screenwriting, geek culture, sci-fi/fantasy, history, something for an Anglophile, or anything that piques your interest blogs…I am open to suggestion.

Feel free to promote yourself! 😉

Thanks!
xx, Rach

The Jane Austen Syndrome

JASilhouetteI was recently introduced to virtual strangers as a “great admirer” of Jane Austen, as if that were almost an excuse, an apology, or a warning…I’m not sure which.  I do not deny my Jane Austen obsession.  I am joined by legions of (mostly) women who refer to themselves as Janeites and celebrate the author and her work in any way they can.  Why?  You might ask.  There are several reasons; likeable characters, restrained romantic encounters, great dialogue, lush landscapes, great houses, etc. but this is not to be some treatise on the literary constructs, but a few of the reasons why a girl from Sin City found refuge in a faraway land set hundreds of years ago, that started a chain of events that I will refer to as the Jane Austen Syndrome.

First off, when I was 19* I visited England for the first time.  That was it for me.  I was home.  And I’ve been trying to get back there ever since, having achieved success only once more (so far).  I always felt a little out of place in my hometown, and finding this sense of “home” was intriguing and compelling.  So, upon my return home I started to devour all things English.  It was later that year when Sense & Sensibility was released.  (*Oh gracious, don’t do the math.)  My literary education had never included Jane Austen.  This was my first introduction, and the first domino.

Sense & Sensibility, where to start.  I have a much younger sister, and for many years I had to maintain a certain Eleanor appearance in regards to keeping emotions in check.  So that rang true for me personally.  The men were dashing and handsome, but there was more to it than that.  The lifestyle, the manners, the propriety, the rules…all of this was fairly new to me and I loved it all.

FirthasDarcyFrom there I discovered the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth (whom I still love to this day) and Jennifer Ehle, which is the basis for all boy meets girl romantic comedies.  It was official.  I now understood.  I was a Janeite.  At this point I started to watch any version of any Jane Austen film made to date, but had yet to pick up a novel.  Once that happened, it was just another stepping stone in my love affair with England.  It is on this topic I could write a treatise.

I discovered that through certain films, I was introduced to time periods that affected not only me but my writing greatly.  Which, hopefully, you’ll see when my screenplays come to the big screen.  *Fingers crossed.  I dream(ed) of the Mr. Darcy and the gentlemanly ways of a time gone by.  Today you’re lucky if a man will hold the door for you (this is a generalization, albeit a fairly accurate generalization.  Sorry guys, but you should know that you will win more favor with a few kind acts, and that most women would love to be treated like a lady.  And let me add a side note, women should act like they deserve to be treated as ladies, this is the Janeite in me.).  There were manners and standards.  And this is a side effect of “the syndrome”.  Once immersed in a world we’d prefer still existed in some regard, most things pale in comparison.  It was this introduction that has led to my Anglophile status – why I swoon at an English accent, love high tea, developed a passion for history, have dressed in Victorian garb on more than one occasion, will watch any English period piece, have a fondness for the Queen, want to join the Society of Creative Anachronism, and desire to settle in an adorable manor in the English countryside…Jane, what have you done to me?!

EnglishManorNow I shall go immerse myself in some history in my own script, so I suppose a “Thank you, Jane” is in order as well.  🙂

Have a great week everyone!