Top 5 Films for Frustrated Writers

As all our fans (there are literally DOZEN of you) know, I, Fox, am an incredibly successful screenwriter and author when I’m not currently sobbing through our latest bad movie we’re reviewing. Like other ridiculously rich and successful writers, I sometimes get frustrated and need a quick pick me up. Since I love movies, I turn to my film collection for inspiration! Here are five favorites of mine that make me believe I might make it one day…I mean continue to be famous and awesome.



1. Factotum

Amazon Buy Factotum Now on DVDWomen, drinking, smoking, crappy jobs, and in between it all – sitting down and pushing the prose. That’s what it’s about. Or, at least, for Matt Dillon as Charles Bukowski’s alter ego Henry Chinaski in Factotum, which means “one who has many diverse activities or responsibilities.

And writers will often find themselves as factotums; when you’re constantly thinking about a story or editing or characters, you may not be able to focus on the jobs that pay real dough. So you make your way while trying to keep your eye on the prize – in Chinaski’s case, getting one of his short stories in a lit magazine.

Some have said the ending isn’t entirely satisfactory, but writers know how important it can be when someone validates your work.

2. Naked Lunch

Amazon Buy Naked Lunch Now on DVDIf you’ve ever wondered what it’s like inside of a writer’s mind during the creation process, watch Naked Lunch. Instead of attempting to adapt the batshit insane novel directly to the screen, screenwriter and director David Cronenberg instead chose to show William S. Burroughs’ attempts at writing the book in the first place.

It’s insanely confusing and often non-linear, as it should be. Considering most people think the creation process is something magical, showing it on film can be difficult. Putting Burroughs literally inside of his work as he tries to create it at the same time is a great way for viewers to identify with something they may not normally understand.

3. Hustle & Flow

Watch Hustle & Flow now with Amazon Video On DemandWhat does a street pimp making sweet, sweet jams while his life falls apart have to do with writing? It’s all in the title. You keep hustling, and you keep flowing; keep sending your stuff out, and keep writing. Don’t stop even when you might end up in jail.

Writer/director Craig Brewer used the plot as an analogy for his own artistic life. When nobody was taking him seriously, he still got out there and hustled because he believed in the project and himself. Getting frustrated is alright; stopping is not.

Little known fact: after seeing Hustle & Flow, we started quoting it on-set during the production of Orgazimation. It’s hard out here for a pimp!

4. Adaptation

Amazon Buy Adaptation Now on DVDAnother “inside the writer’s mind” film, Adaptation shows the trials and craziness that happens when an otherwise strong writer hits writer’s block at full speed. His frustration at constantly not finding the right words (or any at all) is compounded by his brother Donald’s unexpected success with his crappy thriller.

I kept putting off seeing Adaptation for some reason, but I’m glad I waited until I was firmly entrenched in the writing game. I literally teared up at a few points because it was like writer Charlie Kaufman had reached into my brain, taken out my thoughts and squished them on paper.

The brilliance of the movie goes even further when you notice Adaptation is “co-written” by Donald Kaufman, making the whole experience even more meta.

5. Barton Fink

Watch Barton Fink now with Amazon Video On DemandSpeaking of writer’s block, Barton Fink was written by the Coen Brothers during a period when they were struggling with Miller’s Crossing. According to them, it helped “wash their brains” and let them finally finish the latter script.

I generally have to do this myself, especially when my last project has been particularly tough. After struggling to finish writing my short story “Illuminating,” I knew I had to wipe my head thoughts before I worked on anything else. I decided to write a silly story with a weirdo going on a date. That story turned into “Mondo Nothing” and it won me a damn award.

In Barton’s world, he’s a successful playwright who gets sucked into the crazy neon hell of Hollywood. There’s a muse, and literary allusions, religious references, and John Goodman potentially playing the devil. Is it about overcoming obstacles and writing what’s true to you? Could be…

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