When I want to watch a movie on a random night, there’s a good chance I’m going to pick a movie by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Movies like Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle are some of my favorites, and I go back to Miyazaki’s work over and over. The storytelling is thoughtful and the art is fun and beautiful, and even in fantastical settings his characters feel so real.
I love this video that talks about why Miyazaki’s films are so successful, including his focus on precise character actions, clear character needs, and fostering human empathy on screen.
Basically, Miyazaki’s films are a masterclass in storytelling and character development. So when I watch them over and over, it’s totally for professional reasons.
Sometimes being a writer is tough. We have to deal with constant rejection and, even when we are successful, we don’t really know what the future will bring. So today, I want to share one of my favorite movie inspiration moments:
Whenever you feel like quitting, remember Junior and Yul Brenner. Now let’s get out there and write!
Frequent readers of this blog will know that I’m a big Joss Whedon fan. Buffy started during my formative years and it definitely helped me figure out how to grow up and face the weirdness of middle and high school. What better person to get writing advice from than the man who makes TV shows/movies/videos that give me all the feelings?
My Whedon feelings.
This interview with Whedon has lots of fantastic advice about the writing and creating process. Even though Whedon mostly speaks to screenwriting and movie-making, I think it all still applies to writing fiction. We always hear “read a lot” as writerly advice, but I particularly like Whedon’s take on making sure to expose yourself to a lot of books/movies:
“Constantly watch things and things you don’t [normally watch]. Step outside your viewing zone, your reading zone. It’s all fodder but if you only take from one thing then it’ll show…I read The Killer Angels. It’s a very detailed, extraordinarily compelling account of the Battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of various people in it and it’s historical. It’s historically completely accurate, and the moment I put it down I created Firefly, because I was like, ‘I need to tell this story. I need to feel this immediacy. I so connect with that era, the Western and how tactile everything is and how every decision is life or death, and how hard it is and how just rich it is, and how all the characters are just so fascinating.’ But so I should be on the Millennium Falcon. Now, if I only watched sci-fi I would have just had the Millennium Falcon part, which has already been done, but finding that historical texture, it literally, I put the book down and started writing Firefly.”
How cool is that? And it makes so much sense–if you only read things within your category or genre, you’re not expanding your potential inspiration to anything that hasn’t already been written for your readers. Not that you should skip reading within your genre–I hope that if you write YA, you also enjoy YA–but it’s a great reminder to look outside of that sphere of influence. So often I feel like I have so many awesome YA titles on my to-read list that I don’t tend to as much adult fiction or non-fiction or poetry as I’d like. This seems like an excellent reason to dive into a few non-YA titles I always have on the back burner.
Make sure to click through for the rest of this excellent interview–if only because Joss also advocates the use of chocolate as writing fuel. Yeah. Dude’s a genius.
Things I like: Shakespeare. Joss Whedon. Last night I got to see both combined in the latest Much Ado About Nothing movie. It was so much fun! I went with my friend, Hannah, with whom I also saw Joss Whedon in person. (Needless to say, we were both way excited.) Obviously the only way to share our excitement is through a Joss Whedon-based gif movie review.
Spoiler alerts–but seriously, guys, the play is a few hundred years old.
My feelings about the cast:
The set, aka Joss Whedon’s house:
All the banter:
Everyone after the big party:
Don John setting up Hero:
Beatrice asking Benedick to fight Claudio:
What I want to tell Hero:
And of course Nathan Fillion being hilarious:
How I felt after the movie:
In all seriousness, it was really cool being in a movie theater full of people laughing out loud at one of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s a great example of how stories can transcend time and location. Human drama and romance and comedy touch all of us. And if those stories can costar Nathan Fillion, bonus.
Judy Blume was the queen of YA before YA was even a thing. So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that this trailer for Tiger Eyes looks awesome. Blume co-wrote the script with her son, who’s also directing, so it seems like the project is in good hands.
Happy birthday to Gregory Peck, all-around cool guy and the man who brought Atticus Finch to the screen with so much sensitivity and thoughtfulness.
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books and movies. (Just hearing the score to the film gets me teary.) It’s a beautiful example of how an amazing text can be brought to life on the screen. So often we argue about whether a book is better than a movie. Why can’t we love both for different reasons?
Oddly enough, I was thinking about Gregory Peck last night and came across this video, in which Peck talks briefly about filming To Kill a Mockingbird with Harper Lee on set:
So cute! I would have freaking loved to be on that set. And while we’re at it, here are Atticus Finch’s closing arguments:
And after the trial:
Now I’m going to be all emotional thinking about To Kill a Mockingbird. May we all endeavor to be like Atticus Finch.
In middle school, one of my favorite books was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I must have read it twenty times. Then I found a copy of the VHS and watched that repeatedly, too. There’s a lot of argument pitting books against their movie versions, and for The Outsiders I loved both. So it was awesome to see today’s Letters of Note, in which a school librarian and her students helped bring The Outsiders to Francis Ford Coppola, who ultimately directed the film. The first letter:
Click through to see the full exchange. It’s really heartwarming to see how one librarian aide’s letter helped create a fantastic movie. And it’s a great lesson in never doubting that your voice can make a difference. Maybe it won’t come to anything–but maybe it will.
Emily Watson (no, not Emma Watson, I had to read that twice) is slated to play Rosa Hubermann and Sophie Nelisse is Liesel. I haven’t seen either of them in films before, but I’m very hopeful for this cast.
The Book Thief is one of the perfect recommendations for someone who looks down on YA as a genre. I hope a movie version captures the complexity of the novel and introduces it to a wider audience. Also, really curious to see how they handle Death’s voice throughout.