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Influences: A Meme

It’s been quite a while since I started a meme, so here’s one to consider:

What single film or TV programme at some point in your life made you a) understand the filmmaking process and b) influence your own style of writing? [Then tag three people and reprint these instructions].

I tag: David Bishop, Elinor & Lara.

So here’s mine… Beware, there be spoilers.

SEVEN (1995)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

It’s hard to believe Seven has been around now for nearly HALF MY LIFE: watching it only recently, I was of the opinion it hadn’t dated much. Funnily enough, Seven isn’t one of my *favourite* films; I wouldn’t imagine it would even figure in my top ten. There were far too many giant leaps in logic for it to *really* hang together for my tastes. For example: even knowing there’s such a thing as plastic surgery, the woman accused of vanity would rather die of a paracetemol overdose? The gentleman accused of lust is able to fuck a woman to death with a knife strapped to his penis… really?! (Wouln’t that be a mega case for erectile dsyfunction at this moment?? Oh and btw, he’s the one who’s lustful, yet it’s the “tempting whore” who has to die? Niiiiiiiiiice – not). What’s more, it would be a few more years before Fincher really proved what he could do in my eyes with the far superior Panic Room. As for Walker, what happened?!

Yet there I was, watching this film at the cinema when I myself was approximately fifteen years old. And it was like a thousand lightbulbs went on in my head. Here was a concept I was very familiar with – the seven deadly sins – and it was that concept that SHAPED the film and what happens in it. Though I was yet to read any books about screenwriting (or even so much as discuss it with anyone), I suddenly became away of the notions of central concept and how it can STRUCTURE a movie. Whilst this might all sound obvious stuff, many many specs in the pile actually don’t do this… Nor did mine at first of course, practice makes perfect — but I knew what I needed to be working TOWARD and I credit Seven totally for this realisation.

Similarly, it was Seven and Seven alone that influenced my love of thriller and desire to write something similar. I found subsequent thrillers of the 90s and 00s lacking in comparison in terms of suspense or its claustrophobic, threatening element. For a while I got swept up in the desire to write the *next* big Horror, but discovered the market was flooded – with prodcos and the spec pile. What’s more, when it came down to it, I discovered I lacked the flair to spill blood on a grand scale, even on the page. So imagine my surprise when I churned out a rather generic thriller about two years ago and discovered, according to people’s feedback and my own gut it was *the* genre for me…

So over to you!!!

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5 thoughts on “Influences: A Meme”

  1. Do you really like Seven? I saw it on a friend's recommendation and felt I'd emptied sewage into my brain. I'll never watch it again. I felt much the same way on reading the sequel to Silence of the Lambs and refuse to see the film of Hannibal for the same reason.

  2. "Funnily enough, Seven isn't one of my *favourite* films; I wouldn't imagine it would even figure in my top ten. There were far too many giant leaps in logic for it to *really* hang together for my tastes."

  3. What I learned from Seven (Se7en?) was the importance of building up to a huge, character-defining choice at the climax. And what's amazing about the film in question is that it does it twice, in almost the same moment, both times with the power of a punch to the face: the realisation of what Kevin Spacey has been planning all along, and Brad Pitt's inability to not give him exactly what he wants, even though he knows that it is what he wants.

    Yeah, the first couple of acts don't really hang together, but it's worth it all for:

    'If you kill him, he wins.'
    'Then he wins.'

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