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Posts Tagged ‘keokuk’

“When I was traveling the Midwest by car, bus and train, I regularly visited small-town libraries and found that readers in Keokuk, Iowa, or Benton Harbor, Mich., were checking out Proust and Joyce and even Svevo and Andrei Biely. D. H. Lawrence was also a favorite. And sometimes I remember that God was willing to spare Sodom for sake of the 10 of the righteous. Not that Keokuk was anything like wicked Sodom, or that Proust’s Charlus would have been tempted to settle in Benton Harbor, Mich. I seem to have had a persistent democratic desire to find evidence of high culture in the most unlikely places.”
Pulitzer Prize & Nobel Prize-winning writer Saul Bellow (Humboldt’s Gift)
Hidden Within Technology’s Empire, a Republic of Letter
The New York Times
October 11, 1999

P.S. This blog is about a sense of place as much as it is about screenwriting. And I love stories about big success that originates from small places. There is no greater example in cinematic history of the writer/director born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada who is the only filmmaker to make a film that has made $2 billion dollars. And James Cameron’s actually done that twice, Avaitar and Titanic. As I point out in the post Filmmaking Quote #7 (James Cameron), part of his success is being raised in a town of just 2,000 people and having to ride a school bus for two hours a day to and from school. Two hours he spent reading books. For what it’s worth, Saul Bellow was also born in Canada—Lachine, Quebec.

Related Posts:

Mark Twain (His first paid job as a writer was for a newspaper in Keokuk, Iowa.)
The Juno-Iowa Connection (The University of Iowa in Iowa City—where Tennessee Williams,  Diablo Cody and many other writers attended— is an hour and a half drive directly north of Keokuk.)
Screenwriting Quote #2 (Skip Press) “If you live in Keokuk, Iowa, and write a screenplay…”
Postcard #33 (Quincy, Iowa) About half a hour directly south of Keokuk.
Screenwriting from Michigan (Yeah, Michigan has helped shape some pretty good writers.)
Kalamafrickin’zoo’s Talent Pool  (Kalamazoo is less than an hour drive from Benton Harbor, MI)

Scott W. Smith

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Our screenwriting quote of the day comes from Skip Press on the benefits of gathering actors together to do a reading of your script:

“If you live in Keokuk, Iowa, and write a screenplay, you might find that actors will flock to you for the chance to participate in a reading. I don’t know much about the actors in Iowa, but I do know the Iowa Writers Program is one of the best in the world. And if the movie About Schmidt is any indication of what you can do in Iowa, there’s great work to be done there.”
                                                     Skip Press
                                                     The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting
                                                     Chapter 19 What a Reading Can Show You
                                                     Page 241

Notice how Iowa always gets picked on as the last place you’d expect anything to be happening in the film world? Hence, that’s why I chose the name Screenwriting from Iowa.

Now I have been to Keokuk in the southeast corner of Iowa (on the Mississippi River) and they actually have a film festival there called the Keokuk Independent Film Festival so, yes, my guess is you can find actors to read your script in a remote place like Keokuk. (And just for the record Keokuk is about two hours from Marceline, MO where Walt Disney spent time part of his childhood and about an hour away from Hannibal, MO where Mark Twain was raised.)

But I do have to correct Skip on one thing and that is the script for About Schmidt was written by Nebraska native Alexander Payne and filmed in Omaha, Nebraska. Granted just over the Missouri River from Iowa, but I wanted to make that clarification. (It’s kind of like that distinction that folks in Southern California like to make between LA County and Orange County. Or 213 and 818 area codes. Similar, yet different.) But he is correct when he says that there is great work to be done here in Iowa. And I’m guessing wherever you live and write.

To learn more about the Iowa Writers’ Workshop that Skip said “is one of the best in the world” read my post The Juno-Iowa Connection.

And I am planning on following Skip’s advice by doing a reading of a new script I hope to complete this month, so if there are any actors interested in the Cedar Valley please contact me via email at info@scottwsmith.com. (I could arrange something in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Chicago, or even Keokuk if there is a group of actors interested.)

And for the record, Alexander Payne who won an Academy Award for best adapted script for Sideways (written with Jim Taylor) shows that you can come from Omaha and do well in Hollywood. And I don’t know how many actors there are in Omaha now, but that’s where Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando came from so they have a good heritage. (To read more about Nebraska please read Screenwriting from Nebraska.)

Speaking of Nebraska, if anyone knows where I can get a copy of Robert Duvall’s 1977 directorial debut We’re Not the Jet Set please let me know. (It’s a documentary about a rodeo family in Ogallala, Nebraska.) And speaking of We’re Not the Jet Set, here’s a song by that title recorded by Tammy Wynette & George Jones that I’m guessing you’ve probably never seen or heard. (I hadn’t until yesterday.)

7:36 PM Update: I just came back from seeing Jim Carrey in Yes Man where even he had a blast in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

Text Copyright ©2009  Scott W. Smith

 

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