Greetings from cloud nine! If you could see the smile on my face right now, you’d think I overdosed on a gallon or two of Botox. If you’re wondering why am I so silly-happy, that I don’t even care my flight to Cannes was delayed nine hours, and I may not see my luggage all week because the baggage handlers in Brussels are currently on strike? Because I just spent an awe-inspiring weekend in Liverpool, England, the birthplace of The Beatles! My reason for doing so (or at least the reason I tell people) is because I was scouting for a screenplay I wrote titled, Get A Life, which is currently being packaged. While that’s 1,000% true, the real reason is because I knew doing so would inspire the hell out of me, which is a great state to be in as I roll into the Cannes Film Festival. So, welcome to this week’s edition of Going Bionic, otherwise known as “Reinvigorating Your Creative Juices – The Sequel.” This week I’m going to give you three key tips on how to get inspired. Don’t worry; it doesn’t include flying off to Europe! Let me first explain how the idea of utilizing Liverpool as one of the locations first came about:
Ice Cream Near The Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong
About six weeks ago, I was having ice cream with Phil Gorn of Wonderphil Entertainment after he and I had just spent the day at Tian Tan Buddha. I was telling Phil that my script, Get A Life, took place in L.A., London, Saint Tropez and Hong Kong. When Phil asked, “Why London,” I told him it’s because the lead character, Laura, is a Beatles freak, and walking across the famous crosswalk outside of Abbey Road Studios (like the Beatles Abbey Road album cover) is on her bucket list. Phil just smiled, and said, “Walking across a crosswalk is visually boring. You should have her go to Liverpool instead.” I first denied such a thought, because London had been part of my story since I first thought of the script concept. So, I responded by saying that I couldn’t include Liverpool because I never write about places I haven’t been to. Phil just shrugged and said, “Then you should go to Liverpool before you get to Cannes.” Suddenly, a spark ignited inside of me, and it all made sense. Not just going to Liverpool, but moving away from including London as a location. Liverpool seemed fresher, and not as predictable, since London, Paris and Rome tend to be the European cities most often times romanticized by the cinema.
Thus, I started a page-one rewrite of my script, feeling reinvigorated and focused.
Tip #1- Embrace Ideas That Make Your Story Better
One of the biggest battles writers face is one with their ego. All of us think we know what’s best for our scripts, but if that were true, there would be no need for script notes or rewrites.
Choose Your Epicenter of Creativity
My most recent epicenter of creativity was The Hard Days Night Hotel, which is an incredibly posh, beautifully conceived work of art that’s more of a Beatles museum with comfortable rooms to sleep in, than it is a typical hotel. In fact, nothing is typical about the Hard Days Night. The rooms grace Beatles artwork, the lights above the registration desk in the lobby have Beatles sheet music dangling from them, and even the “do not disturb” signs feature Beatles song titles to describe your request (the “do not disturb” side of the sign reads, “Let it be,” while the “please clean my room” side of the sign reads, “I Need You”). The Hard Days Night Hotel also happens to be the only Beatles themed hotel on the planet. Since I’ve been a Beatles fan since before I could ride a bike (I learned that at the age of five), The Hard Days Night Hotel felt like home.
Tip #2 – Your Epicenter Should be Comfortable
Of course, your epicenter of creativity doesn’t have to be an exotic location; it can be anywhere, or anything. A favorite room, a chair, or even a piece of clothing can create tremendous inspiration. For example, on the occasions that I’ve directed, I always wear the same shirt on the first day of shooting; my old, faded and ragged UCLA T-shirt that’s barely holding together by a few threads. My main point here is that you need to feel in total comfort while you’re at your Epicenter of Creativity. Only then will your creative groove produce deliciously creative fruits.
Soak in the Environment You’re Writing About
Since I travel so damn much, I’ve had the opportunity to visit 46 states in the USA, as well as multiple countries throughout the world. Thus, when I write about a city, I’ve usually been there at least once, and usually multiple times.
One of my pet peeves is to read a script from a writer who has no idea about the city they are writing about. Of course you can Google what you need in order to fake it, but if you haven’t been there, the nuances in your script, or the lack thereof, will make your script read inauthentic. Thus, in order to really get down the texture of Liverpool and what the Beatles mean to the city, I took a three-hour taxi tour all around the city. Stops included Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, John, Paul, George and Ringo’s childhood homes, churches, schools secret hideaways, and even the graveyard where John Lennon found a tombstone that listed “Eleanor Rigby” as the deceased (which gave him inspiration for the song). I also spoke to the locals about everything, not just The Beatles. I listened to how they enunciated and what slang they used during normal communication, so I could write like they speak. And, no trip to Liverpool would be complete would spending a night at the world famous Cavern Club – the tiny, subterranean gem where The Beatles honed their craft and as the “house band” on their way to becoming the “fab four.” (a photo of me in the Cavern Club is attached). Hell, I even paid to see a “The Cavern Beatles,” a wildly-precise cover band that belted out a two and a half hour set, complete with costume and wig changes, in order to match how the fab four morphed from their clean cut image, into long-haired hippies.
Tip #3 – Just Do It!
While I deeply appreciate you reading my column, now is the time for you do some writing of your own. C’mon now, before you change your mind, or talk yourself into doing 19 other things that could be done later, you should just start creating!
I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday! In the interim, stay turned, because I’ll be shooting over a few Going Bionic Special Reports from The Cannes Film Festival/Cannes Film Market, before next Tuesday’s regularly scheduled article.
I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.