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film mimics life

published: 2012-09-19

“I was perfectly content in my world, and then she left it,” said the author of a novel to me this morning. Not just any novel, but a novel I am turning into a film. It all started out a few years ago as a collaboration with a well-known Dutch actress. Then, life got in the way of her plans. And life can be painful.
Today, I needed to ask the author a question which was keeping me awake. The book he wrote is about how he lost his girlfriend to cancer. They were in their twenties at the time.
What would her life have looked like if she was still alive today? I thought he would find it a difficult question to answer. But it wasn’t. The picture he painted was of a self-centered, spoiled woman, yet who lived life the way nobody dares live it. Fully, wholly, passionately and driven by ambition. Duality, as every writer knows, is what makes for interesting characters. Her main aim was to become succesful and to become rich. To live life the way her father should have lived it.
But would it have happened for her? There was no doubt in his mind that yes, she would have succeeded. She was intelligent, engaging, social, extrovert and persistent. What about him? Oh, he’d of course have stopped working and would be writing novels. It’s what she wanted him to do. I didn’t ask: is it what he wanted to do? Really wanted to do? He is now director of the biggest publishing company in the Netherlands.
Want opposing need, another powerful tool in screenplay.
How many people do we meet who aren’t doing what they say they want to be doing? Who keep postponing for reasons life brings?
Life as we think it could be, is always different than life as it is. And what does every good film do? It mimics life.

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