Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | November 18, 2015

Film festive for writing

A few weeks ago The Philadelphia Film Society (PFS) put on their annual film fest, an event they’ve been doing for over two decades. These films are on tour from film-fest to film-fest, usually going all over the world. They may not make a distribution where we’ll easily be able to rent them later. I usually take off work for this, and I try to attend as many movies as I can.

Because I take off work for it, there’s a real sense of mental disengagement that quickly converts to creativity after the first day of films. It’s challenging to keep up with the film schedule, especially if you try to see as many films as are available in that day. Eating between films or packing a lunch is a must and I see many film-goers doing it, including some I see every year.

During those moments where I can sit down at a coffee shop between films is nice. That’s when I want to write the most. Seeing as many as four or five movies a day from all over the world gives you that many different storylines, plots, and characters to fill your mind.

It’s a time to review what themes of the world the movies are covering, if any. It’s also a time to reflect on what films I lean towards, perhaps based on those themes. Why do I lean away from some movies? What taboos or storylines am I avoiding? There have been occasions where I’ve challenged myself to see a movie I normally wouldn’t have.

All of this combines in such a way that really gets the creativity stirring. I’ve found that it’s almost imperative to write several scenes of anything, whether it be pieces of a short story, a novel fragment, or even a scene from a screenplay (perhaps one from one of the movies).

Every writer I know is busy and can never get away from the daily grind. Seeing films like a festival is a luxury most cannot afford to devote the time to. That said, I would encourage any writer to visit their local independent film house or organization soon just to get a schedule booklet. Seeing just a few films are often mentally rewarding and sometimes inspiring.

In Philadelphia, the PFS run films all year long.

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