Apologies for the bragging headline. At the beginning of 2010 I was an extra in Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Hereafter, starring Matt Damon. However, I also feel there is a level-headed, writerly post in it…
I just stumbled across my first review of Hereafter, in The Economist. I am of course, detonating with excitement (although I have to wait until January before it arrives in the UK). But reading the review, I can see for the first time how the scenes I was in fitted with the whole story. (Possible spoiler alert – there’s nothing here the press hasn’t shared, but if you hate to know anything about a film you want to see, you may want to look away.)
On the set I saw fragments –
Matt Damon going out of the front doors of Alexandra Palace looking upset
Crowd scenes at the London Book Fair
A female character giving a reading from a book on the afterlife
Some twins, one dead
A ghostly boy wandering through the Book Fair crowds
The ghostly boy’s twin chasing Matt Damon’s character
Derek Jacobi giving readings of Little Dorrit
‘Marie has a near-death experience and … writes about scientific evidence for an afterlife… Marcus’s twin brother dies in an accident and he goes looking for a psychic who can communicate with the dead… Lonely George (Damon), whose supernatural gift has wrecked his chances with a giggly beauty … goes to sleep listening to Charles Dickens audio books. Indeed, Dickens turns out to be the improbable thread that will bring all three characters to the London Book Fair, where Sir Derek Jacobi is reading from Little Dorrit.’
Suddenly, it’s a story.
It reminded me of how I feel when I’m putting a novel together.
To start with, everything is fragments – locations I want to use, characters I know will be important, revelations I feel will be pivotal. Scenes that come in a flash of inspiration. None of them seem to particularly connect. It’s like seeing each of them down a telephoto lens and not knowing what’s around the edges, how it connects with everyone else.
Seeing the first reviews of Hereafter have reminded me of the fragments I was involved in. And at the time, my WIP was at a very sketchy stage, but now the view has widened. The threads have pulled together. Themes have emerged and resound throughout the story. And it’s now making sense.
It’s funny to look back and think what scant material I started with.
Do you find this with your novels? Or are you thinking, never mind about the writing, tell us about being in the darn film. Ask me anything you like in the comments. Or watch the Hereafter trailer here