18 January, 2006

Ripped from the news

Nick Cassavetes, in a New York Times interview, discusses the problems with getting inspiration from real life news. His movie, "Alpha Dog" is about a group of suburban, teenage gangster wannabes who corner themselves into committing cold-blooded murder.

While he managed to get admirable access with the actual lawyer and the fugitive's dad, the core of the story arises from Cassavetes' own background, empathy and understanding. That's what attracted him to that story in the first place and likewise there may be a news story that attracts us more than others because it connects with us. Writers get to grips with issues by exploring them in a fictional context and so we tend to write variations on the same themes in our writing career, whether we are aware of them or not.

Depending on your story, you may not need such good access and research and it's possible you could write your script based entirely on imagination. I haven't seen Cassavetes' film but it strikes me that the group dynamic and the actual crime is a lot more interesting than the fugitive, court case stuff.

Why not consciously go through today's newspaper and see what stories attact you and could inspire you to write something?

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