Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Donald Martin! Donald is teaching the in-person section of Beginning Writing for the One-Hour Spec on the UCLA campus (Reg# 369716) this Fall, and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and his upcoming course.
What sparks your creativity?
Stories. News stories. Articles. Anecdotes. Books. Stories told by friends. Stories overheard at Starbucks. We all love stories, right? After digesting stories, what really gets me going is to ask myself these two questions: Why? And what if the story took a dramatic turn that no one expected? That gets my creative juices flowing, and the creative possibilities are endless. That is what I love about stories: they can take us anywhere. And, as writers, we can take others with us. Anywhere.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
I rely on “just doing it”. Writing. Every single day. Even if the writing is not good on a certain day, there is almost always something positive to be discovered within those words on that computer screen. A theme. A kernel of an idea. A funny bit of dialogue. A seed of a character. An interesting new plot line. So, I have a writing schedule and I make myself write. Period.
What are your favorite books and/or movies?
My favorite movies? Apocalypse Now. The Godfather, Part I and Part II. Dog Day Afternoon. Cinema Paradiso. Casablanca. It’s quite the list. A more recent film? The Wife. It’s about writers and writing. Glenn Close is awesome in the title role.
My favorite book? The novel Bear Season by Bernie Hafeli, a heartfelt story about a boy, his drunken uncle, and a bear that may or may not exist. It has a hint of the magical about it.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
Writing is rewriting. I don’t know who said those exact words, but everyone in the profession of writing for film and television knows them to be true. Because writing is rewriting.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
I love writing, and I love writers. I love the creative process. I enjoy mentoring emerging writers and helping them discover the “magic” within themselves – by sharing with them the tools and skill sets with which they can transport themselves (and their audiences) into new worlds. Today, with the growing golden age of television, there are many new worlds to experience, to contribute to, and to create.
What do you hope your students get from your course?
I hope that my students get to understand that every good story needs a solid foundation. Once the foundation and fundamentals are strong, then inspiration can take a writer anywhere. Understanding and articulating the heart of the story is key, the reason why a story must be told. With my experience as a writer in film and television, as a producer, as a script consultant, and as an instructor, I hope that my students will find the path through which their creativity can shine, be it for the silver screen, the TV screen, or an iPhone. I hope my students understand that, while making a movie or a TV series is a collaborative process, it begins with a really good story. It all starts with the written word – with the writer.
This is a business built on dreams. On making your voice heard and your vision stand out. The dream part is what makes this profession so exciting, because dreams are endless. They make possible what others may think impossible. Without the dreams and the dreamers, there would be no entertainment industry. So, my advice to anyone contemplating becoming a part of this business is this: Do not stop dreaming. Ever. Your dreams can take you to places you never thought possible. I’ve been a professional writer and producer for many years, and I’m still doing it, still dreaming, always dreaming. No one can stop me. No one should stop you.
Thank you to Donald for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!