My Movie DNA
The films that inspired me
Here it is – the first proper post of my newly regenerated Cavletter!
The current plan is to send a new post every Tuesday focusing on storytelling or providing some behind-the-scenes information about my work.
Then, every other week I’ll send a Friday update of my various projects along with the usual list of recommended books, podcasts and links.
Sounds good? I hope so! Don’t forget to let me know what kind of things you’d like to see!
Not subscribed yet? Then enter your email here
The movies that made me
In his first substack post, comic writer Jim Zub talked about the key films from his youth that had a major influence on his storytelling. Inspired by this, I started to think of the films I watched over and over again as a kid or teen. I kept coming back to these four mainstays which, incidentally, were probably the first four home videos I ever owned:
Like Jim, it got me thinking about how they still influence me today:
Friendship and banter
I love writing stories about groups of friends in dire situations, preferably taking the mickey out of each other 99.999 percent of the time.
Ideally, they're also a bunch of misfits; individuals that should never work together and yet form a bond that borders on family. And the more sarcasm the better, as long as it’s driven by warmth and affection.
Yes, Dr. Bones McCoy, this is no doubt your fault.
Monsters and creatures galore
It’s no surprise that all four movies all feature monsters in some shape or form.
Monsters are my jam. Always have been, always will be. Doctor Who is probably to blame for that. Scary monsters, friendly monsters, monsters that will either break your heart or tear it from your chest. Just give me monsters.
Whimsy and occasional silliness
Again, yes, there's a healthy dollop of Doctor Who in here, especially the Tom Baker era of my childhood.
I love stories full of peril that also border on the ridiculous because, let’s face it, we all need a little silliness from time to time, if only to stop us from taking everything so damned seriously.
And of course, gallows humour is an essential part of the human condition, a form of bravery in its own right!
Battling through no-win scenarios
As Admiral Kirk says: "I don't like to lose."
Many of my stories focus on putting characters through hell, while hopefully also providing them with the grit and resolve to power on regardless… even if they’re faced with a 112-foot Marshmallow Man. And, usually, they have to do it together…
Of course, these are only a handful of the stories that made me who I am today. Bubbling underneath are Superman II, various Hammer Horrors, The Lost Boys, James Bond, Batman ‘89, Aliens… the list goes on and on. But Ghostbusters, The Wrath of Khan, Labyrinth and Return of the Jedi are definitely the ones that spring to mind when I think back to being a movie-loving kid.
The first VHS movies from my early childhood that influenced me are Death Race 2000, Friday the 13th, The Omen 2, Saturday the 14th... followed later by First Blood, and Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.
I know you read Doctor Sleep reasonably recently, the movie is different but it does something that I thoroughly enjoyed. Luring Rose the Hat to a place that is as dangerous to her as it is to Danny. Seeing the villain get uncomfortable with a dangerous environment felt new to me. I was glued to that, I didn’t think it was going to go well for anyone!