Everything Must Move – What Watching Movies Taught Me About Writing

My dream Deskspace

This post was conceived while watching one of my favorite movies. Thus, as usual, it is based on my personal experience. So anyway, to the point…

I found myself paying attention to what was going on in the background of this particular scene in this movie instead of what the leading characters were doing. To better understand this, I challenge you to do the same. Choose one of your favorite movies, what’s going on in the backdrop? An old man is laughing with his wife. The waiter is walking away from a table, she looks down at the notepad before walking away. Behind her, the bartender throws a bottle into the air before catching it with his other hand and pouring the liquor into the long line of glasses in front of him. The waiter walks up to the bar, picks up two of the many glasses and walks them over to her table. The old man and his wife smile while nodding thank you.

What just happened? What happened is that there’s an entire event taking place in the backdrop of what’s happening in the forefront. Though not the center of attention, everyone in the scene moves. Though not the primary characters, everyone in the scene is doing something.

While working on my next project, I’ve found it helpful to make sure  that everyone in the scene from the smallest to the greatest has something to do, or has a goal they want to achieve (despite how small). There shouldn’t be any stick men and women. If we are at dinner, the people behind Nora’s table should be laughing or talking. Not so that it’s overwhelming, she is the leading lady after all, but they shouldn’t just be sitting there. There should be movement. For instance, in A Beautiful Mind, John Nash sits on a bench in front of the University. With him is his old roommate and together they sit there and talk. As they are speaking, there are people walking by, students, professors, and faculty members. And as the camera zooms in and pans around, we notice the people  are looking at John oddly.

For those of you who’ve seen the movie or who are familiar with the man John (this movie is based on a true story, Nash just passed recently matter of fact) you know that John Nash suffered from a severe case of schizophrenia. His college friend does not really exist. From the first time viewer’s perspective, John is just sitting there talking to an old friend. But if you notice the people in the backdrop, they are not just walking by, they are walking by and staring.  Why? You assume its because John has always been a little, well, off kilter. Weird. Odd. By the end of the movie however, you realize that the people are staring because John is sitting on a bench  talking to himself. They are staring because there is really no one there. Though not the center of attention, even these people have a purpose for being. In this case, they are hints that help lead up to the end of the movie so that it all makes sense.

I’m not saying writing fiction and writing a movie script is the same thing because its not. What I am saying is that everything around us can be useful to help us in our writing. Who says we can’t use non-conventional means to build on creativity? After all, that’s what creativity is anyway, inventing new ways to do things.

Since working on The Renaissance (my 2017 novel project) I’ve been using this technique (making sure everyone in the scene has a purpose) and its really been helping in my development of the story. It helps me to ensure that everything is accounted for and that there are no loose ends. From the protagonist, to the lady swatting at a fly standing behind her, everyone has a goal or a reason for being. Everyone and everything moves.

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Movie Night Friday – A Beautiful Mind

MNF

Good Day everyone and welcome to Movie Night Friday, where I list some of my favorite movies and why I love them. So today’s pick was actually not next on my list, but I decided it was a good time to include it since John Nash just passed.

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 28:  (CHINAOUT) American mathematician John Forbes Nash looks onduring day one of the 2011 Nobel Laureates Beijing Forum at the National Museum on September 28, 2011 in Beijing, China. The 2011 Nobel Laureates Beijing Forum will kick off on September 28 and last to September 30 with the theme of Innovation and Development.  (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
The real John Nash (Getty Images)

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“A Beautiful Mind” is one of my favorite movies and as the winner of four Oscars, apparently a lot of others love it too. What I didn’t know is that the movie was based on the life of the real John Forbes Nash Jr. who recently died in a car accident with his wife. Despite the movie however, there are some who say that it was not very accurate with his life and that the book was way better. For what it’s worth, even if the movie was not very accurate (movies usually aren’t exactly the same as the books they are based on because every page is money to a production company. Therefore, sometimes they have to eliminate some things and even make up some things. But since I’ve never read the book I cannot give an opinion on the matter. Needless to say the movie is good) the concepts involved are still very much profound if you understand the spiritual side of things, but I digress.

I do find that this movie is challenging to explain because it’s easy to give away the good stuff. But I will do my best to explain the plot to your interest without spoiling it for you:

 

A-Beautiful-Mind-DINash is an anti-social man who seems to exist in a different world, often seeing things in the form of mathematical equations and would much rather spend time solving them than socializing with people. While Nash does befriend a college roommate named Charles, instead of attending class, which he says “dulls the creative mind”, John would much rather analyze pigeons in a park with his own thoughts. A child prodigy, John Nash is a mathematical genius at Princeton University struggling to come up with his original idea. And his mind’s ability to decode numbers and letters and see formula in everyday occurrences is simply remarkable.

 

242532After graduate school, Nash begins teaching where he meets his wife Alicia who is a student of his. The turning point happens when the government asks his help with breaking Soviet codes, which soon gets him involved in a terrifying conspiracy plot. As Nash and Alicia marry, things begin to unravel for John as his world jumps from his head and into the real world. He eventually grows more and more paranoid until a shocking discovery turns his entire world upside down. Ironically, John’s mental strength is tested against the very brilliance of his mind. But there is still a beautiful thing left: Alicia. I love the portrayal of the bond between husband and wife and the way Alicia’s strength is needed to help get her husband back on track.

Trailer:

Funny Movie Mistakes:

a-beautiful-mind_03When John’s wife is in the bathroom she drinks all of the water in a cup, but when she throws it the cup is full again.

Watch the movie and see if you can spot the knot!

 

“What’s your favorite movie? Why do you love it?”