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pbsthisdayinhistory:

July 16, 1951: The Catcher in the Rye is Published
On this day in 1951, J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published. The novel tells the story of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, a troubled character who challenged 1950s conformity, much like Salinger himself.
Due to its somewhat rebellious tone, Salinger’s work has been linked to issues of controversy and censorship.  Even so, over 60 years later, The Catcher in the Rye has sold over 65 million copies and continues to sell an additional 500,000 each year.
Learn about the novel’s path to publication with American Masters’ J. D. Salinger infographic.
Photo:  A 1951 copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress). 

pbsthisdayinhistory:

July 16, 1951: The Catcher in the Rye is Published

On this day in 1951, J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published. The novel tells the story of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, a troubled character who challenged 1950s conformity, much like Salinger himself.

Due to its somewhat rebellious tone, Salinger’s work has been linked to issues of controversy and censorship.  Even so, over 60 years later, The Catcher in the Rye has sold over 65 million copies and continues to sell an additional 500,000 each year.

Learn about the novel’s path to publication with American Masters’ J. D. Salinger infographic.

Photo:  A 1951 copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress). 

The Definition of True Science Fiction
When trying to define a genre, I typically think of what the genre does better than any other. For instance, a comedy should make you laugh. Not that laughs-per-minute is the sole component — usually you hope for great characters, a good story, et cetera. Still, the only thing a film needs to do to be a great comedy, is to make you laugh. An adventure film should be exciting, and a horror film should be scary. 
However, one of my favorite genres has been almost completely ignored the past few decades, science fiction. But wait! There’s been no shortage of movies about aliens, robots, and space travel in the past few years. In fact, one might argue that the majority of high grossing films each year are sci-fi films. The problem is… they’re not science fiction… not really.
So what is science fiction? Well, I think we should ask ourselves what this genre can do better than any other. Science fiction can explore deep and thoughtful subjects, in a way that is very unique. It can show us glimpses into the future, allowing us to ask questions about who we are, and where we are going. Or it can be a mirror of our current lives, providing intriguing commentary and igniting complex discussions. In short, science fiction can make us think. 
Great works of fictions such as “The Time Machine”, “Brave New World”, “1984”, “Metropolis”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Star Trek”, and “The Twilight Zone” all famously asked large philosophical questions, and used the medium to explore interesting ideas and commentaries. This is something that sadly the genre has lost. In stead, we have action films parading has science fiction. Despite the fact that “Transformers” has large robots that come from outer space, it has nothing to do with the genre. Instead, it’s a mindless action film.
I had the pleasure of seeing “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” today, and I have to say, it was a refreshing change of pace. Yes it had great special effects, and exciting action scenes, but  Matt Reeves’ film also has the strongest commentary on society we’ve seen from this series since the original 1968 film. It’s easy to see why critics love it. It’s entertaining, and action packed, but it also has something intelligent to say. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is a true work of science fiction, and that is all to rare these days.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with other genres borrowing from science fiction. Even “Star Wars” (a film I love) structurally has more in common with westerns and samurai films, than it does with science fiction. But there should be more books and films that make us use our heads. There’s room for more philosophical works of fiction, and hopefully we’ll see more of that in the coming years.
- Joshua McQuilkin

The Definition of True Science Fiction

When trying to define a genre, I typically think of what the genre does better than any other. For instance, a comedy should make you laugh. Not that laughs-per-minute is the sole component — usually you hope for great characters, a good story, et cetera. Still, the only thing a film needs to do to be a great comedy, is to make you laugh. An adventure film should be exciting, and a horror film should be scary. 

However, one of my favorite genres has been almost completely ignored the past few decades, science fiction. But wait! There’s been no shortage of movies about aliens, robots, and space travel in the past few years. In fact, one might argue that the majority of high grossing films each year are sci-fi films. The problem is… they’re not science fiction… not really.

So what is science fiction? Well, I think we should ask ourselves what this genre can do better than any other. Science fiction can explore deep and thoughtful subjects, in a way that is very unique. It can show us glimpses into the future, allowing us to ask questions about who we are, and where we are going. Or it can be a mirror of our current lives, providing intriguing commentary and igniting complex discussions. In short, science fiction can make us think. 

Great works of fictions such as “The Time Machine”, “Brave New World”, “1984”, “Metropolis”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Star Trek”, and “The Twilight Zone” all famously asked large philosophical questions, and used the medium to explore interesting ideas and commentaries. This is something that sadly the genre has lost. In stead, we have action films parading has science fiction. Despite the fact that “Transformers” has large robots that come from outer space, it has nothing to do with the genre. Instead, it’s a mindless action film.

I had the pleasure of seeing “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” today, and I have to say, it was a refreshing change of pace. Yes it had great special effects, and exciting action scenes, but  Matt Reeves’ film also has the strongest commentary on society we’ve seen from this series since the original 1968 film. It’s easy to see why critics love it. It’s entertaining, and action packed, but it also has something intelligent to say. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is a true work of science fiction, and that is all to rare these days.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with other genres borrowing from science fiction. Even “Star Wars” (a film I love) structurally has more in common with westerns and samurai films, than it does with science fiction. But there should be more books and films that make us use our heads. There’s room for more philosophical works of fiction, and hopefully we’ll see more of that in the coming years.

- Joshua McQuilkin

Written and to be Directed by…

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about what’s going on with my own personal work as a filmmaker. That’s largely because I’ve been writing. Here are some thoughts on that.

After finishing our last short, “Jeune Fille”, I knew my next screenplay would be a full length feature. This was a bridge I needed to cross, a mountain I needed to climb. Several of my peers had accomplished this task, and I felt it was finally the right time for me to do the same. This wouldn’t be my first attempt. I tried a few years ago after the completion of my second short, “The Juliet”. I had worked on it for a few months, but in the end, I felt I wasn’t ready. The writing lacked the maturity I found appealing in the films I admired. So I gave up on it.

Now in my twenties, surely I was ready. But what to write about? A couple of ideas flutter around in my brain, yet they seem too abstract. I can’t get enough of it down to make sense of it all. So I keep reaching, meditating, searching - through loneliness, frustration, passion, and the girl - the girl I can’t forget - and the places - the places I’ve dreamed about but never been —- Then suddenly…

There she was. A fully formed new character. I knew her name, her fears, her dreams. The whole story opened up to me in an instant. The prospect of writing another female protagonist was very exciting. It felt like a logical next step for my creative journey. God knows most male writers write for male leads. Why not do something different?  Furthermore, this girl felt different than my last female protagonist. Where Sophia in “Jeune Fille” was closed off to the world, this new girl was excited and open to the possibilities. 

I let her settle in for a few days. I’m hesitant to start writing an idea before some time passes. If I’m still excited about it a week later, then I know it’s worth pursuing. So I start collecting inspiration, re-watching favorite films, and treatmenting. This goes on for a few weeks, but I still haven’t started the screenplay. “I’m not ready yet”, “I need more time”, “It should all be planned before I start”, “The first screenplay failed because the ideas got away from me”. But this planning isn’t making progress anymore. I’m at the foot of the mountain, and I need to start climbing. So I open the document, I type in my title, then “Written and to be Directed by Joshua McQuilkin”. At least I’ve started. 

For the next few months I write every night. I have a short list of scenes that need to be written, and I cross them off one at a time. Some scenes are running too long, but I don’t turn back. I keep writing.  I don’t give myself permission to edit or make changes. Not until I’ve crossed the finish line. Not until I get to the end. The first draft was never going to be perfect anyway, but if I could just get it all down, I could fix it later. If I start focusing on it’s imperfections , I run the risk of never reaching the end. So I keep writing.

A couple weeks in, I start writing with movies playing in the background. When my eyes wander off the page, I see a film that inspires me. A shot, an atmosphere, a color. It leads to new ideas and new scenes are born. I’m also reading Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit”. In it, she uses the Greek words for life, zoe and bios, to illustrate two different types of artists. Zoe being all life, without characterization, and bios, being life in relation to others lives, with beginning and end. She uses these two words to demonstrate the differences between a bios artist, who operates within the structure of typical storytelling, and a zoe artist, who creates more abstractly, without the conventions of plot. Twyla herself says she is conflicted by the two, but remains a zoe at heart. I can relate.

Finally, I reach the end of my screenplay. Now I can go back; now I can fix it.  I already have an idea of what needs to happen, and I’ve been on a roll for the past few days. (My last 20 pages had been far more inspired than my first 20). So without a break, I start going through and re-writing every scene, and my second draft is done in just a few days.

With that out of the way, I sit down and read it all the way through for the first time. And you know what? To my surprise, I like it. I like it a lot. Now it’s time for other people to read it, too. I send it out to my inner circle. I want to believe it’s good, but I know it might need more work.  The response is very positive. I’m simultaneously thrilled and a bit distrustful. “Are you sure it all worked?” But they’re saying, “It’s the best thing you’ve ever written.” That feels good, especially because it’s my first full length. I’ve climbed the mountain, and as of now, it seems my efforts were pretty successful.

So what now? Well, more people have to read it. And then we have to ask the question of how it will be funded. It’s not an overly expensive project, but it’s certainly more than we could afford on our own. At this point, we just have to have faith that we’ll find the right people who will believe in it like we do. In the meantime, part of our story takes place in Paris, so I’ll be visiting the city in the fall. I’m also learning French, which will come in handy while directing certain scenes.

I know it will likely be a long road before our film sees the light of day. It may be years before you hear more of it, but I believe we’ll get it made. Sooner or later, we’ll get it made. 

The final goal is to just keep writing. Hemingway had a regiment. Paul Thomas Anderson has a regiment. I can have that too. The momentum gained from writing everyday shouldn’t be wasted. There are more ideas. More screenplays to be written.

- Joshua McQuilkin 

Boyhood
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing an early screening of Richard Linklater’s latest film “Boyhood”. I have to admit, it’s something pretty spectacular. In part simply because there’s never been anything quite like it.
For those who don’t know, the film was shot over the course of 12 years, following the same boy from age 5 to 19. The innovative concept is of course very effective from the narrative perspective, but I was also taken with how well it documented our time (at least from a child’s perspective). The music, clothing, video games - it all brought back such vivid memoirs. Each new phase of Mason’s life reflected my own experiences growing up, and that’s something special.
Richard Linklater is undeniably a genius, and his latest film should be regarded both for it’s innovation and for being an excellent film in it’s own right.
- Joshua McQuilkin

Boyhood

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing an early screening of Richard Linklater’s latest film “Boyhood”. I have to admit, it’s something pretty spectacular. In part simply because there’s never been anything quite like it.

For those who don’t know, the film was shot over the course of 12 years, following the same boy from age 5 to 19. The innovative concept is of course very effective from the narrative perspective, but I was also taken with how well it documented our time (at least from a child’s perspective). The music, clothing, video games - it all brought back such vivid memoirs. Each new phase of Mason’s life reflected my own experiences growing up, and that’s something special.

Richard Linklater is undeniably a genius, and his latest film should be regarded both for it’s innovation and for being an excellent film in it’s own right.

- Joshua McQuilkin

Found Footage Trailer #2

Check out this trailer for the new comedy by my good friend and collaborator, Drew Byerly. This is Advent Creative’s first feature film, it was shot entirely in Colorado, and has to be one of the cheapest feature films ever made. 

Three teenage boys convinced that they are bullied, set out on a mission to lock their bullies in a room together and turn each bully against one another. The boys document the process from beginning to pathetic end. Things turn from bad to worse for the teens as their little plan begins falling apart right in front of their eyes.

Be sure to “like” the Facebook Page, and to visit the website. Support indie films!

- Joshua McQuilkin

kasinski
kasinski:

"When humor can be made to alternate with melancholy, one has a success, but when the same things are funny and melancholic at the same time, it’s just wonderful." Francois Truffaut
"Quando o humor pode ser alternado com melancolia, é um sucesso, mas quando as mesmas coisas são engraçadas e melancólicas ao mesmo tempo, é simplesmente maravilhoso.  François Truffaut”

kasinski:

"When humor can be made to alternate with melancholy, one has a success, but when the same things are funny and melancholic at the same time, it’s just wonderful."
Francois Truffaut

"Quando o humor pode ser alternado com melancolia, é um sucesso, mas quando as mesmas coisas são engraçadas e melancólicas ao mesmo tempo, é simplesmente maravilhoso.
François Truffaut”