Hey everyone, Flobo here. Another week, another post. Let’s get into it, shall we?
As a writer, I take great pride in being able to write multiple genres. Not that I don’t have my preferences, but if I were to be contracted to write a vampire piece for example, I would feel confident enough to take a crack at a draft. It’s a skill you need to have if you go into the field of television writing as well. “CSI” is essentially cop show, but they spend twenty minutes an episode learning about a certain subculture relating to the crime (dog shows, video game players, cougar moms etc.). Despite all of that, growing up there was one genre however I had always despised. The Western.
Westerns are one of the more enduring genres of film, television and books. The United States, long standing for the land of opportunity, have always looked back fondly during the Old West time period. There was wide open spaces, there were brave men and women braving the unknown, there was adventure to be had within our borders. It was a much simpler time, especially judging by today’s standards. Westerns had their idealistic phase (square jawed cowboys with perfect teeth riding into towns after fighting off the “savage” natives), it’s ironic phase (in the Spaghetti Western movement), and it’s darker phase (in the Revisionist Western subgenre). For some reason, I just couldn’t identify with the genre or its conventions on the whole. In my city upbringing, we didn’t play “Cowboys and Indians”, we played “Cops and Robbers” (Well actually, we played “NYPD and Minorities”, but I’m trying to be PC here), and I for one only saw a horse when the circus was in town. Though I don’t identify with science fiction in that way either, at least sci-fi yielded that sense of wonder that the Western genre didn’t have.
Because I just looooove movies with long static shots of the empty desert for minutes on end.
As I got older I was trained in analytical thinking for film criticism. I realized that there were lots of things I could pull from westerns, even though the overall genre was a giant bore. My first novel “High Desert Run” is what’s known as a Neo-Western. Neo (or Contemporary) Westerns take themes and ideas from the classic western genre and brings them to the present day. Now your idea of amoral heroes, treacherous women, small towns under siege by outlaws, and inclement whether didn’t have to be stuck in the 1880s.
I will never say I was ever a cowboy, but walking down the Vegas strip during the middle of the day in June with nothing but a bottle of water and a bandana made me relate with those characters even further.
Anyway, writing neo-westerns in a way gave me more of an appreciation for the classic stuff. Sure “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” gets all the love but “For a Few Dollars More” was pretty great too. Not to mention the other film I have in my collection:
This past weekend, a team of filmmakers and I competed in the San Diego 48hr film project. It is essentially a filmmaking race, where you have two days to complete a film from start to finish. They give you a character, line of dialog, and a prop to use and you have to fit all the elements in (I figure it was a cheating deterrent). They also give you a genre. Can you imagine what we got?
Punk-Rock Musical?! No, I’m kidding. A western.
Since I signed up as the writer, scripting duties fell on my lap. I couldn’t even imagine how that would have went down if I had folded my arms and said “I don’t do westerns. I hate westerns.” Luckily that wasn’t the case.
Maybe you could pull the whole “getting to know something you hate and maybe you might like it thing” to other aspects in life, but I don’t think my blog would ever be that profound.
Until next time,