Monday, August 20, 2012

Why write?

A group of us were talking about the various jobs we had before we entered into the movie business and it seemed that I was the only one who really couldn't do anything else.  I worked as a limo driver once, it lasted 2 months. I worked as a security guard in Vancouver watching over Nissan cars on an island and that lasted about 2 months.

I think I hold the record for shortest time on a job back in the 70's when I got the job Friday and by Sunday was driving across Canada, leaving the job before I started.

I had an office job for 2 weeks and left, of course that was late 60's when there were plenty of jobs around. All I really wanted to do is go to movies and watch TV. Even my favorite school teacher wrote that I was "a little lazy" in both Grade 6 & 7. 

That all changed when I got a job in the mailroom of a TV station. I knew instantly this would be my life and it became that. It was the best job in the world for me. And after 2 months there was an opening for a beginning editor and I took that. A year later at the same TV station I got a job in the photography and news department.

It really was a time of opportunity as I skipped across the country working at TV stations where there was almost always a job opening or a job to be opened in a few months. And after several years of TV jobs, I began to write screenplays.

The first few were pretty bad but I kept at it, even when I was out of work, I always wrote. And that's when people started to ask me why I wanted to write.

First, it wasn't for the money, in fact very few writers make tons of money while most of us are lucky to have one movie made. I was a little luckier, I got 19 movies produced and the odd thing about it is that I don't really think it was me.

Writing is watching and listening and the good writers do this all the time. My Grade 6/7 teacher did say I was curious and that's one of the best assets of any writer. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones said that when they began writing songs, he was suddenly aware of other people and what they did or said.

He would hear a certain phrase or a couple of words from someone on a street and suddenly would begin to compose a song and after awhile he admitted that it was almost voyeuristic. Yet he kept listening and watching and realized that he was becoming an "outsider".

And that's what a lot of writers become be it songs or movies.

Someone once asked me what I do. I said I write happy endings.  He looked at me and couldn't quite understand. I then said that my job is to give people stories that make them feel good but also to give them some diversion from the world they live in.

Of course not all movies have happy endings but the experience is still there. The audience knows that the Titanic will sink, but that at least Kate would live.

Experts say that people go to horror movies to experience a near-death sort of thing, they can watch death but once the movie is over, they are still alive.

So I write and continue to write for as long as I can type and then I will speak the words into a software until I can't speak anymore. 

Because it's the only thing I know how to do.

Okay, I can also take photographs and shoot documentaries and edit them as well.

As far as writing, I have finished the first pass of the screenwriting book and am organizing and rewriting and already have a screenplay I want to write beginning in September.

And Friday is going to be a special day for this blog.