We’ve been writing about movies here on HeyUGuys for almost a decade. We’ve seen an enormous change in both the industry and the audience’s expectations of what is considered important. It’s fair to say that fifteen years ago there were very few ways to get into the business. Now with a website, a desire to be heard and some hard graft anyone can do it.
Self publishing has taken over the world, with millions of photos, texts, reviews and conversations published daily. The various pillars of social media encourage and elicit you to have your say, to be heard amongst the crowd. The questions we’re asked all the time have gone from ‘How do I become a film blogger?’ to ‘Ok, I’m a film blogger, how can I stand out?’
Those who have succeeded in any field will know that a dedication to your craft, a desire to learn and keep on learning, and a consistent effort will get you far. In movie writing, as in all creative endeavours, the ability to hone, maintain and evolve your own voice is a truly important tenet of success. Your take on a film, actor or director is unique to you, as is your understanding of the history and context of the subject, however it’ll be your ability to convey that opinion that will be the true measure of success. That’s where the dedication comes in. You’ll need practice, and lots of it. But there is help at hand to make this process go a little easier.
In a bout of self-reflexive pedagogy we’re taking a look at the essential tools a movie writer needs to keep up with the ever-changing, ever-present world of movie news and interviews.
Many of the free CMS (Content Management Systems) have a text editor as part of their main functionality. Without knowing a stitch of code you can use these to create media-rich content. With the ubiquity of image-heavy page spreads and the unrelenting pivot to video these tools are designed to make your presentation a doddle. But your words are more important than ever.
Whether you stay up late to perfect your writing, or seek help from professional writers you need a tool that will inspire you to make the most of your words. For years now we’ve incorporated Scrivener into our daily lives, and we highly recommend you do the same. It’s the most perfect writing desk a writer could imagine, with a slew of writer-focused features to make your projects a pleasure to dive into.
There’s a free trial, and a recently released iOS app to keep up your working on the go, and it has never let us down. There are other apps, or online services such as the Hemingway App to get a different take on your writing (including the wonderful Cold Turkey Writer – previously Force Draft – which overlays the app on your screen preventing ANY distractions). It all helps, and you’ll find the right workflow to hone your writing.
Part of what makes the apps above work so well as the inbuilt functionality of cloud saving. This is a relatively recent development which makes the whole process so much easier to rely on. There are few things as frustrating as working on a piece for hours only to lose it with a misplaced click or a mistyped keyboard shortcut. Auto saving is your friend, and connecting your favourite writing app to a cloud service is imperative.
Dropbox has been around for a long while, and the free trials offered are a crucial step to getting users on board. Microsoft’s OneDrive is a recent favourite of ours with its companion OneNote app being our essential pick for a scrapbook for the diaspora of links, images and other miscellany. Evernote is also a very popular choice as is the recent Box app, though we’ve not used it much so can’t comment on its functionality with writing apps.You’ll need a cloud service though, so look around and get everything set up and working together.
There are thousands of decent podcasts out there, tens of thousands perhaps. So, to give you a small guide into the vast ocean we’re going to tell you a few of our favourite podcasts dealing with movies and writing.
Scriptnotes from John August and Craig Mazin is an essential listen, with around 350 episodes for you to binge on. Screenwriters August and Mazin chat about all things screenwriting, with industry focus and tales of hard fought battles woven into a stream of wisdom and encouragement.
80s All Over is a relatively recent addition to the podcloud, with critics Drew McWeeny and Scott Weinberg talking through every major cinema release of the 1980s one month at a time. These guys know their stuff, and their world weariness at some of the decade’s dross is overwhelmed by their enjoyment of the good stuff. Often very funny, this hugely engaging podcast is a must listen for those of us who missed many of the 80s films on the big screen. Each episode is a joy, and it’s well worth joining the voyage of discovery.
Finally (and yes, just three among the thousands – consider this a small nudge and dive in yourself), we have a great example of a broadcaster finding their perfect niche. Edith Bowman is a national treasure, and there are few out there who know as much about music and movies and their wonderful connection. Soundtracking is her latest venture, currently 81 episodes old, and dives deep into the latest movies with directors and composers. It is the epitome of what we mentioned earlier – a critic’s job, arguable any artist’s task, is to illuminate. Listen to Edith Bowman’s podcasts and your appreciation of movies and their music will blossom.