Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Living a Biopic Life

I had grand ambitions about taking a walk as soon as I got up this morning, while it was still cool. And then I opened the front door to get my newspaper and nearly wilted. Today will be an indoor day.

Yesterday, I inadvertently ended up doing a Julie Christie film festival. It turned out that TCM was actually doing a Julie Christie film festival, but I'd watched Doctor Zhivago for the ice and snow scenes and then watched Far from the Madding Crowd because I rather like Thomas Hardy and hadn't read that one. Then in the evening I watched Finding Neverland on DVD and had forgotten she was in it. In those 60s historical epics they didn't seem to worry much about accuracy in costuming and hairstyle, especially with the leading lady. I guess they wanted her to be recognizable. In Doctor Zhivago, Julie Christie's hairstyle was so very mid-60s Mod that she could have taken off her costume, put on a minidress and walked down Carnaby Street to go hang out with Twiggy without changing her hair at all or looking out of place. Then in Far from the Madding Crowd they had a woman in the 1860s wearing her hair loose and shoulder-length, with a bit of a flip on the ends and big, eyebrow-sweeping bangs. That might have passed with a young girl, but it kept up even after her character was married. The weird thing was, the rest of the female characters had the right hair for the period. Finally, in Finding Neverland, she did have the right hair for the historical period.

But watching Finding Neverland, after watching Miss Potter a few weeks ago, made me realize that I'm really falling down on the job when it comes to living a life that will generate material for a future author biopic. I haven't had a grand, tragic romance, and I haven't gone through personal experiences that map perfectly to events in the book I go on to write that becomes my best-known and loved work. I haven't had any major family conflicts or personal struggles. I suppose, depending on what happens later, the whole struggle over the fifth book might be something that counts and that could make for the setback near the end of the movie, where it seems all is lost. And then something could happen and I end up becoming even more successful, so there's a big, triumphant confrontation scene where I get to face the people who made the now-obviously foolish decision about that book and resist the urge to rub their faces in it. With any luck, future generations will be amazed that this series was only a modest success at first (and the movie would surely portray the publisher as being all at fault because they missed the market for it) before something happened that really brought it to attention.

And then there's the fact that I wrote the first book after I got laid off and while I was struggling to support myself with freelance work. Some of the things in the series came from real experiences I had in the workplace. Given the way they use dramatic license in those biopics, I suspect that "freelance work" might be turned into "temp work" so I can be working in an office and dealing with all the crazy bosses and co-workers who became characters. The angry boss yelling at me would turn into an ogre in my mind's eye, etc.

It would definitely take dramatic license, because me hanging out at home and reading and writing wouldn't make for much of a movie. Maybe I need to go have some writing-related adventures and maybe a doomed love affair just to give future biographers something to work with.

How's that for career planning -- planning activities designed to spice up a possible future biopic (or bio hologram or whatever they're doing fifty to a hundred years from now).

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