Saturday, April 17, 2010

Finding Your Writer Self Through the Movie Finding Forrester

Happy weekend, everyone - and debuting now? Part 2 of finding your writer-self via the wisdom of the movie Finding Forrester! I've enjoyed diving into this movie very much. Following are some more thought provoking ideas and circumstances from the movie that truly hit home with me as a writer:
Forrester (to Jamal): Do you know what the absolute best moment is? When you've finished your first draft, and you read it by yourself. Before these editors take something they couldn't do in a lifetime and tear it down in a single day.

Forrester (to Jamal): Crawford cannot understand how a black kid from the Bronx can write the way you do.


(Following is one of my FAVORITE scenes!! A classroom confrontation between Professer Crawford, Jamal, and a student with the last name of Coleridge! GO JAMAL!)

Crawford – in class, lecturing: In looking at this book quotation, what, if any conclusions, might we be able to draw?

Coleridge, a student Crawford called on: You mean about the author?

Crawford: About anything, Mr. Colerdige….and, feel free to view this as the appropriate time for a response.

Coleridge: Er….

Crawford: Mr. Coleridge, “Er” does not excuse the fact that you don't know who wrote it.

Coleridge: I'm sorry, sir, I just don't...

Crawford: And you, of all people, should know who wrote that passage. Do you know why, Mr. Coleridge? I repeat: Do you know why?

Wallace (quietly to Coleridge): Just say your name, man.

Crawford (overhearing): Excuse me, Mr. Wallace - did you have something to contribute?

Wallace: I just said that he should say his name.

Crawford: And why would it be helpful for Mr. Coleridge to say his name?

Wallace: Because that's who wrote it. His great-grandfather.

Crawford: Very good, Mr. Wallace. Perhaps your skills extend a bit farther than basketball.
You may be seated, Mr. Coleridge.

Wallace: Further.

Crawford: Excuse me?

Wallace: You said my skills extend "farther" than the basketball court. “Farther" relates to distance. “Further" is a definition of degree. You should have said "further."

Crawford: Are you challenging me?

Wallace: No more than you challenged Coleridge.

Crawford: Then perhaps the challenge should have been directed elsewhere. (quoting)
"It is a melancholy truth that even...

Wallace (interrupting): "Great men have poor relations." That’s from Dickens.

Crawford (quoting): "You will hear the beat of..."

Wallace (interrupting): Kipling.

Crawford (quoting): "All great truths begin..."

Wallace (interrupting): Shaw.

Crawford (quoting): "Man is the only animal...”

Wallace (interrupting): “That blushes - or needs to." Mark Twain.

Crawford: Get out!


Forrester (to Jamal): You did nothing wrong. You just beat him at his own game. You have a gift that should allow you to do remarkable things in life. That is, if you don't screw it up...


Wallace (to Forrester): What's the reason for having a locked file cabinet of writing no one can ever read?


Jamal’s Brother (Handing an envelope to Forrester): It’s from Jamal. He wrote that for you.

Forrester: When?

Jamal’s Brother: Last night. After the game. He's going back to that school this morning. Going to face Crawford, and the rest of those people about the contest. It's funny. They always let you get just so far before taking everything away. He's such a good kid, man.


(The following scene never failes to give me chills - this scene, and the confrontation between Jamal and Crawford are worth the price of the DVD!)
Forrester (Entering Crawford's classroom): Professor Crawford. May I read a few words?

Crawford: Yes, of course, by all means.

Forrester (Now addressing the class): My name is William Forrester. The title of this piece is:
Losing Family. ‘Losing family obliges us to find our family. Not always the family that is our blood, but the family that can become our blood…’ (continues reading, to an enraptured class)

Crawford: Mr. Forrester, I'm sure I speak on behalf of everyone in thanking you for this visit. The quality of your words is something we should all aspire to reach. May I ask to what do we owe this honor?

Forrester: Professor Crawford, I spoke here today only because a friend of mine wasn't allowed to. A friend who had the integrity to protect my anonymity when I was unwilling to protect him. His name is Jamal Wallace. Those words that I read today - I didn't write them. Jamal Wallace did.

President/MC BoT: Jamal, these are your words? At sixteen? Remarkable. Mr. Wallace, you’re excused from Monday’s Board Meeting. This situation has been more than satisfactorily resolved.


Wallace: So where are you off to?

Forrester: Well, I have a homeland I haven't seen for too long.

Wallace: Hey…be sure to write.

Be sure to write.
At the end of the day, as authors we need to always keep that in mind, no matter what the obstacles, opinions, and intervention of others. Keep pushing to be the best we can.
Isn't that a great lesson? For writing, and for life?
Thanks for stopping by - and let me know your thoughts!!


  1. Another excellent piece! Man oh man, I GOTTA buy that movie and see it again ... and again ... This is one of those that even if I watched it ten times, I'm sure I'd find something wonderful each time that I didn't notice the time before.

  2. Hi Marianne, good blog. I have a list started of movies to watch. LOL
    Keep reaching out, never giving up! That's great advice. Perseverance.

  3. Thanks so much, Delia! Glad you enjoyed it. I completely agree - DH and I have watched this movie a number of times and it just never gets old!!!

  4. Glad you stopped by Neecy! :-D Funny story to share about this movie: I never would have watched it if my brother hadn't called me after he watched it on DVD and basically ORDERED me to grab a copy. Him being my older brother and all, of course I had to obey. LOL!! I've often told him I owe him for a fantastic movie recommendation. He knew it would speak to my writer soul. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!!

  5. I suppose it's a specialized problem, but the movie Adaptation can give you a good understanding of the difficulties a screenplay writer encounters when trying to adapt a novel and/or book with a lot of interior dialogue.

  6. Interesting, John! --- I'm adding Adaptation to my list of 'to view' movies for next weekend. Sounds intriguing. Thanks for the recommendation, and for stopping by!

  7. This was a wonderful read! THank you for an ispiring post!

  8. Thanks, Terri! I'm so glad you stopped by. :-)