Writing Novels Easy, Making Films Hard

Today’s NaNoWriMo tip comes from Scott. Go check it out.

Last night we watched Bong Joon-ho’s The Host again, which is probably my favourite giant monster movie ever. If you haven’t seen it do so immediately! It more than stood up to a second viewing. We then watched the Making of The Host documentary, which was way better than those things normally are. For starters, they barely talked to the actors at all—always a very good sign. Pretty much every aspect of film making was covered: from the initial idea to the storyboards to sound design. Q: How did they create the monster’s voice? A: Painstakingly.

A lot of time was spent on the logistics of filming on location in sewers. Every cast and crew member had to have preventative shots. On account of they’d be working in raw sewage infested with parasites and rats and hideous diseases. Yum! The smell was overwhelming. Many of the cast & crew were barely able to keep from vomiting. They had to deal with the non-mixability of electricity and water. Yet there they were filming in a great deal of (raw sewage) dampness. Summer shooting meant they had to be alert to flash flooding. In winter the ice had to be scraped up before every day’s filming. What larks, eh?

The doco left me extremely grateful that I write novels. I can create giant monsters living in sewers without having to spend weeks and weeks in an actual sewer. I can write about winter from the comfort of summer. I can create pretty much whatever I want without having to change out of my pyjamas or worry about how much it will cost or whether it should be a physical or post-production effect or if it’s possible to get that many extras. Luxury.

And that’s why I write novels and don’t work in the film industry.


  1. Travis on #

    I own that movie, just haven’t watched it yet. Right now I’m going through all of the seasons of Angel. I may take a break now though because The Host sounds really interesting.

  2. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    I’ve taken a couple of writing workshops that focused on how to apply tricks of movie-making to your writing. Stuff like how direction or shapes can influence the viewer/reader.

    For example, movement to the left or upward (actor crossing the screen from right to left, character reaching up for something) is subtly perceived as difficult, whereas movement to the right or downward is subtly perceived as easier. With shapes, it’s about curves and lines. Curves or round shapes are perceived as organic and soft, whereas lines or edges or squares are thought of as hard and usually inorganic. (Hey…Clankers vs. Darwinists, anyone?)

    The fun part, though, is that none of that stuff makes for hard and fast ques. They’re just suggestions, and other elements (light, color, space) can alter them to give a different message entirely.


  3. Tamara on #

    wow. I’m going to have to take a look at that movie.

    And yes…I’d much rather write books.

  4. Mel on #

    And when you write, you don’t need to spend an hour setting up a single shot…

  5. Summer on #

    I love The Host! And yeah, after watching a few film docs, I found myself thinking the same thing.

  6. wandering-dreamer on #

    Lol, I looked at the trailer for that and it looks so quintessentially Japanese, except for the shot guns. Might have to check that out next Halloween, not a big monster fan though so I should grab some friends to watch it with me. And I actually wouldn’t mind having to go on location to get research for writing, I’d rather be outside having an adventure than sitting inside writing all day.

  7. Celia on #

    I definitely wouldn’t have picked up The Host if it weren’t for this blog post, as I didn’t think monster movies were really my thing. But I did, and it was awesome, so thank you for recommending it 🙂

  8. Justine on #

    wandering-dreamer: The Host is South Korean, not Japanese.

    Celia: I’m so pleased. I think the movie is pretty much perfect.

  9. wandering-dreamer on #

    Wow, I should’ve looked at the directors name again, now I feel like an idiot.

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