My developmental editor* gives me movies and TV shows to watch as a way to help my writing. I know it seems kind of weird (or at least it did at first to me) that watching TV or movies can help with distinct elements of writing, but it really works. So now when my editor says, I really think you should watch this, I don’t question it, I just watch it.
None of the movies on this list were homework assignments from my editor, but you could say that watching these were research all the same.
Ironically, as I was pulling together this post, I just realized that two of the three movies are about drummers. I don’t have a thing for drummers; I promise. I usually lean towards bass players (with the occasional leaning towards a singer here and there). Why? I have no clue. Feel free to give me your best guesses or supposition in the comments at the end of the post.
Anyway, on to the movies:
First up is my all-time favorite music-themed movie (and probably favorite overall movie) Almost Famous. Why? Cameron Crowe has always fascinated me and this movie is semi-autobiographical. Also, it is about writing as well, which I obviously love. I also think it’s one of the best characters that Philip Seymour Hoffman ever played. Here is the official trailer:
This movie is also just so damn quotable. And because you didn’t ask, one of my (many) favorite quotes in the movie is when ‘band-aid’ Sapphire is talking to William backstage and says, “Can you believe these new girls? None of them use birth control and they eat all the steak!” There are many more wonderful quotable moments in the movie. I highly recommend it, if you haven’t seen it.
My second favorite movie is a little more recent. Sound of Metal is about a perpetually touring metal drummer, Ruben, who suddenly goes deaf in the middle of a show. I can’t remember where I initially discovered this movie, but it was well before it was nominated for six Oscars. Sadly, this movie only won two: Best Sound and Best Editing. I watched a video about the how the sound in this movie and it was as fascinating as the movie itself (if interested, see YouTube Video: How Sound of Metal Created the Audio Illusion of Going Deaf).
Another reason I love this movie is it dives into the deaf community, which has also fascinated me with since I was a kid. Why? There were two deaf sisters that were at the same home daycare that my mom used when she first went back to work after my brother was born. I picked up on some sign language, thanks to a book the babysitter had. For a long time, I wanted to be an audiologist because of this experience.
Anyway, I digress. The plot of the movie was fascinating and kept me engaged throughout. I highly recommend this movie. Here is the trailer for Sound of Metal:
My third favorite movie was actually a movie my brother kept insisting I watch. It was one of those things where I would go, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll watch it. I’ll watch it.” But I wasn’t getting to the watching part fast enough for him. He was finally like, “Watch this. TODAY. There will be a test.” He is my brother and knows how to get my attention.
My brother and I have vastly different tastes in movies and music, so it wasn’t something I thought I would like. But I actually ended up loving this movie in a ‘what the hell did I just watch’ kind of way.
What I watched was the movie Whiplash, which stars the guy from the Farmer’s Insurance commercials, J. K. Simmons. Don’t let that distract you from the movie.
Warning, this movie is intense but you would never guess that by the IMDb description: “A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.”
Doesn’t sound too intense, does it? Well it is, trust me. Here is the trailer:
Honorable Mention: Something that I watched fairly recently (and then immediately felt old because I remember when this album came out and then realized how damn old the documentary is) is the Metallica documentary Some Kind Of Monster.
What was originally supposed to be a short “making of the record” kind of video deal, ended up being a two-year long documentary of a (mega-famous) band on the brink of implosion as they dealt with addiction, the loss and replacing of their bass player (Jason Newsted), and working through it all with a psychotherapist (which sometimes, to me anyway, seemed to make things worse for them instead of better).
Here is the trailer to the train wreck that was this documentary:
Do you have any music-themed movies that you love? What have you seen and why do you think I should watch it? I also welcome any ideas about why I have a thing for bass players? All thoughts are always welcome in the comments.
*Developmental Editor- helps authors with the overall details of a work by examining all elements of a manuscript, from individual words and sentences to overall structure and style. This edit usually addresses any issues relating to plot and characterization.