Movies & Writing

By Lisa Maliga

Interior of a Movie TheaterHow can movies inspire a writer? Naturally, I’m a movie buff and I’m inspired by so many of ’em!

Watching The Shining many times I not only thought that Jack Nicholson was sexy—well, before the character of Jack Torrance went haywire—but there’s a scene in that movie that I can identify with strongly. I even made sure my Mom saw this part [when I was living at home], and said that whenever I was in my room working on my computer that’s what I was doing – working. She was offended because the character was a man who cursed and she always thought that Jack was so dirty that “he could stand underneath a shower for two weeks and he still wouldn’t be clean.” That famous scene!

There are loads of movies about writers. In My Brilliant Career, Judy Davis plays a young Australian aspiring author back in the early 1900s and the handsome and debonair Sam Neill portrayed her suitor. He actually was one of the inspirations behind the Alexander Thorpe character in OUT OF THE BLUE.

Apocalypse Now and The Wizard of Oz played roles in my Hollywood novel, North of Sunset. The main character, Sherman Lee, is an action movie producer so back in 1996 [when the novel takes place] he’s watching the mega long version of the Vietnam war film which wasn’t available to the movie-going public back then. On a personal note, I was privileged to see The Wizard of Oz on the big screen in the now defunct Hollywood Galaxy theatre. It was the first time I’d ever seen it in the movies and I had a different perspective and saw character interactions that I’d never noticed when viewing it on TV, whether via the VCR or DVD player.

I find Sunset Boulevard depressing and Julie & Julia charming but I’ve not seen every movie that deals with writers. I try to imagine my books as movies, and when writing a scene in Out of the Blue, I listened to music from Rod Stewart to soak myself in the mood of that time period. The song I mentioned, “Passion,” was heard in a 1980’s movie that I managed to miss, New York Nights. That’s why I thank the singer/songwriter in the Acknowledgments section of my book, as his music inspired the scene where Sylvia Gardener, my main character’s driving in the snow and imaging Alexander as she listens to the song, almost getting into an accident. Even during the final read-through, I was transported to the imaginary Southern Illinois city of Richport to a cold and snowy December evening…and I hope the reader will also escape to another time…another place. 

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