I’ve been “on script” since early April – a rewrite assignment that’s turned into a completely new draft.  It’s been going well and nearing deadline in a week’s time.  Writing a screenplay based on someone else’s story concept is always a challenge; you obviously want to meet their expectations, but you don’t want to be nothing more than a glorified typist.  Several times on jobs like this you’ll reach that threshold where all of a sudden you realize you’re being dictated to, and expected to take that dictation.  That’s usually the time you’re let go, or ask to be let go from the project; anyone can take dictation, and by that point they want a secretary, not a writer.

One habit I get into on any writing job, is listen to a lot of music.  I assemble a playlist of bands and albums, and do this deliberately.  Every morning when on the job, you need to pick things up where you left them, and having a playlist helps me enormously in getting back into the head-space I need to be in.

Another thing I do is track the movies I watch while writing.  Those have an influence on what I write, though not in any plot-specific way.  Different films from different areas and different genres all use visual language to tell their story.  And given that screenplays are a visual medium, it always helps to be aware that you’re to show, rather than tell.  And it helps me, at least, to watch a wide variety of films while writing.

So, here’s the music, and the movies that accompanied me on the journey of the last two months.


The Dead Weather
Karen Elson
Jonny Cash
Patti Smith
The Ramones
The Kills
The Pogues
The White Stripes


Days of Heaven
Running on Empty
Au Revoir Les Enfants
The White Ribbon
Shoot the Piano Player
Day For Night
My Beautiful Laundrette
The Year of Living Dangerously
The Fog
The Battle of Algiers
Lake Mungo
Missisippi Masala
The Boys From Brazil
Waltz With Bashir

Now, anybody want to guess what the movie I’m writing is about?  It’s all there in the above lists.