Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#218) -- Film Influence

What, if any, films have influenced your writing?
(Thanks to Carlo Carrasco for today's question.)

I regularly go to films for inspiration, but their influence extends far beyond mere inspiration.

I learned what an establishing shot is by watching Rebecca.

I learn how setting influences tone from Citizen Kane and Meet John Doe and 2001.

I learn about strong dialog by listening to characters created by Joss Whedon and Quentin Tarantino.

I learn how to place fast and loose with story structure by watching David Lynch's bat-crap crazy narratives.

Watching silent classics such as Metropolis and modern talkies like Woody Allen's Sleeper show me the power of the economic use of language to accomplish strong and memorable scenes.

The zany, out of left field plot choices of films like Monty Python's Life of Brian and Argento's Suspiria and The Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers still teach me that when I'm telling a story, sometimes the best things happen when 1+1=banana.

The slow, creepy camera work of Mario Bava, particularly in Baron Blood and Twitch of the Death Nerve, and the pacing of Hitchcock's masterpieces North by Northwest and Vertigo, speak to me more about building suspense than a dozen how-to books on writing thrillers.

Pretty much, movies are a huge influence on the way I write, and for good or bad, I can't change that.