Despite my claim that I would have no time to read the several books I got out from the library last month, I have been getting a head start on my summer reading. As you may expect, most of the subject matter relates to film making, including many of the ones I listed before.
I started reading Diablo Cody’s 2006 memoir first, and finished it in three days. As you can tell from the title, “Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper,” is not about making a movie, but it is an example of good, natural storytelling. Her adventures as a stripper in Minnesota before she hit the big time (as a screenwriter, not a stripper) are told candidly, bluntly, and at times raunchily (c’mon, it’s an autobiography about the sex industry). Reading her book was like eavesdropping on a grown-up stripper version of “Juno,” as it is written in the same voice with similar quirky phrases and pop culture references.
After devouring that book, I started “My First Movie,” a collection of interviews with various directors about their first films. I ended up only reading the 30-page chapter about Kevin Smith, because I have taken to comparing my short film’s production with “Clerks,” and I felt I’d relate most to his experience. I did, but his interview made me very glad that I didn’t have to film my movie at my work place while it was closed all night, only to have to work an eight-hour shift afterward, on no sleep. Also, Smith financed his movie with a series of maxed-out credit cards, although he does not recommend this method to others.
I started reading a book called “How NOT to make a Short Film,” but since I was reading it after having already shot all of my footage for one, it seemed to be more of an exercise in futility. Chapters titled, “The 43-minute short and why it doesn’t work” and “Post-production: Remember, homicide is illegal” began to make me feel a little sick, so I took that book back.
Instead, I started reading “Rebel Without A Crew,” Robert Rodriguez’s book about making “El Mariachi” in 1991. Brandon read several chapters aloud to me while I was driving, and he is interested in it as well. We watched the movie on DVD yesterday, and even though I’d seen it before (probably around the time my brother read the book in college) it was much more interesting to watch, knowing the back stories and inside jokes behind all the scenes and actors. Maybe that is the way some of you may feel if you ever see “Beacon Alley.” Rodriguez is succinct, matter-of-fact, and full of dry wit. I am only a little over halfway through the 200+ page book, but I highly recommend it.
Next on my reading list is:
1. “Pledged: The Secret Lives of Sororities,” by Ale Robbins, which I am reading for research for a screenplay idea I have, based loosely on probably the most controversial article I ever wrote (that’s not saying much). I participated in my college’s process of going Greek, and I wrote an article for the school paper about it. The movie idea is kind of like that, except it’s more “Mean Girls” goes to college. This is probably more about my need to be like Tina Fey than anything.
2. “Rabbit, Run,” by John Updike. There is no film research value to this, necessarily, but it has come highly recommended to me from many reliable sources.
3. The Harry Potter series. I suspect it drove my librarian parents bonkers when I was younger and all I wanted to read was Harry Potter, over and over again. Well, I haven’t quite grown out of this desire, but at least I have forced myself to branch out since high school. But, with the anticipation of the sixth movie coming out, I feel the need to re-visit Book 6 (and, in all likelihood, Book 7 immediately after).
What’s on your list this summer? If you’d rather go to the movies than read, which I can hardly blame you for, what’s on your summer movie viewing list?