Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Hertenstein

Readers of this blog know that I am intrigued by the blurred line between fiction and non-fiction, the so-called lie and reality--which today has been skewed into scripted entertainment by reality TV--which leads us all to ask the question: What is real and what is not? Post real, I guess.

So to make my point I'd like to cite 2 movies--one forthcoming and one released as a small independent--again I'm not a critic, only a helpful teacher trying to say: WRITE THE DAMN THING. This compulsion to ask yourself is this memoir, can I make it a story(?), I don't think is necessary in the draft stage. Yes, it's important, but only when you are discussing with your editor who the audience is, what your market may be, and where it gets shelved in the bookstore. Up to that point--see the above in bold caps.



Lena Dunham is a young filmmaker and by young I mean UNDER 30. She graduated from Oberlin with the most economically competent degree known to mankind: the creative writing degree. Yes, this will help you all the way to the bank--where you ask for loans to cover your--ahem, see the above in bold. Right, she was in that abysmal netherland that exists post graduation. She went home to live with her parents--and wrote a movie and then cast her mother and sister and got funding and for $45,000 made a PRETTY GOOD movie about her life.http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131761926/lena-dunham-s-big-dreams-rest-on-tiny-furniture

Tiny Furniture is based upon herself and her life experiences--as minor and random as they might be--they actually ended up being pretty funny, and has now gotten a BIGGER gig for a series.

snip from interview from NPR
On whether the film is fictional or based on her actual family
"I think you're watching a fictional version of [my life.] I've started to notice that I answer the question in different ways depending on how I'm feeling about my mom and sister on the day that I answer it, because I still live with them. So even though the movie is this kind of time capsule, it's this completely evolving and changing thing. So right now, I've been working, my sister's at college, my mom's about to have a new show open. We're all having our parallel lives, and then really enjoying each other when we come together. ... But there are moments where I'm like, 'Nothing has changed since we made this movie, and like, my mom is still screaming at me to take out the trash and I'm still telling her to look at me.' But one answer that my mom came up with, which made a lot of sense to me, is that the people who had the relationship depicted in this movie wouldn't be able to make a movie together."
end snip

Tip number 1: Use the material you're most comfortable with. Even if (for right now) it might offend someone). As they say, you can fix it in the mix.

The next film is called Moneyball. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/12/bennett-miller-moneyball-director_n_957304.html
Based on a real-life guy who took the game of baseball  to a whole other level. By the numbers. The trailer looks hilarious, and of course Brad Pitt is always easy on the eyes. He picks challenging roles.

snip form Huffington Post article
That Beane is a real person, and not just a character to infuse with convenient backstory and motivation, required that the filmmaker strike a careful balance of fact and fiction.
"I was interested in telling the story that's going to make a good movie, that respected the essential truth of his character, of who he is, and essentially what happened," Miller explained, allowing that he was willing to bend certain details to create a better narrative. "He's not the kind of guy who likes to bare his soul to somebody that's doing something that could possibly be construed as an exposé, but we did spend a bunch of time with him and get to know him, and of course, Michael Lewis' book illuminates the things that are portrayed in the movie, about his past, the failure to live up to expectations."
end snip

So tip number 2: Write a GOOD story, use writerly craft, get down scenes and dialogue even if it isn't EXACTLY what happened. Give your self permission.

Tip number 3: WRITE . . .

1 comment:

Sheila said...

I've been working on a memoir for my kids and grand kids and . . . yes, a great grand child will soon arrive. Great grandmother? Oh, my.

So far I have written 25,000 words and have not gotten to my own arrival. I find myself slipping back in time, feeling as if I am there with my dad (who died in 1979)when he was a nine-year-old, and he and his older sister tied a kite string to their baby sister's buggy. The wind took the kite and the baby for a ride that almost ended in front of a trolley. I realize I am writing fiction but it feels so right.