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Old 03-17-2020, 02:27 PM   #1
socalwriter1
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Default Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Is this a bad idea from the get-go? I'm not talking about a different planet where nobody can challenge you but rather a place on earth. Places like Africa (did the writer of Holiday in the Wild with Rob Lowe go to Africa or was born there?) or Asia.

I was thinking of googling for my info. Would that be enough? I can't believe every writer who has written about some exotic locale actually went there first. Or maybe I'm wrong and they did.

Any advice/tips greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-17-2020, 02:36 PM   #2
Cyfress
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Of course they haven’t. You can do research, talk to those who have been there, watch documentaries about it. You don’t have to have been there.
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Old 03-17-2020, 02:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Researching info online and via books, videos, etc. should be more than enough. You will surely know more about that location than surely anyone reading the script at that point. Also, if it's a really great story, they can always hire an "expert" to come in and consult. Things (might) change when production comes around -- they usually do.

Something such as you not having been there shouldn't slow you. People always love to say, "write what you know." But really "know what you write about." You can find tons of info out there on just about any place, person, event, etc. You should be fine.
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Old 03-17-2020, 02:46 PM   #4
socalwriter1
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Re: "write what you know."

This exactly what's been in my little brain that's been troubling me. And that other caution... not passing the "smell test."

Thanks guys.
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Old 03-17-2020, 02:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Consider various resources. Years ago I lived in DC and I later wrote a script based there. I had good knowledge but when I wrote a sequence that tracked with a runner, I looked at a map through the monuments. Then I looked at images at various times of the day and year. It helps a lot with setting tone, mood and style.
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Old 03-18-2020, 09:03 PM   #6
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Buy travels book about the country. Especially off the beaten path guides that give info on non touristy areas.
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Just gotta do the research. I wrote a pilot about 1970s Detroit, which I have never set foot in and I was like 5 years old anyway. The most frequent positive comment I get from readers on it is the authenticity of the setting. Immerse yourself in everything you can get your hands on even if you never go there (but go there if you can swing it)
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Old 03-19-2020, 06:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBanks View Post
Just gotta do the research. I wrote a pilot about 1970s Detroit, which I have never set foot in and I was like 5 years old anyway. The most frequent positive comment I get from readers on it is the authenticity of the setting. Immerse yourself in everything you can get your hands on even if you never go there (but go there if you can swing it)
I agree that exhaustive research can be useful, but I'd be cautious of the sources. Using only travel guides and other encyclopedic sources may give a superficial, regional view, and miss the deeper, personal flavor of a region.

I grew up in 1970s Detroit. A writer would do well to know about the back alleys where kids fought and played, Town Club vs Faygo, how desperate folks used the Detroit River for suicide, the sights, smells and sounds of a tour through the Ford Rouge Plant, what it was like for laid off autoworkers to search the grimy machine shops on Van Dyke for a job, the mafia-owned Italian bakeries in the suburbs, how fun it was as a kid to run behind the trucks spraying DDT on the dying Elm trees, etc.
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:44 AM   #9
socalwriter1
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

Guys, these are really, really great insights!.Thanks.
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Old 03-19-2020, 02:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: Choosing a Location Where the Writer has Never been

I use Google Image. Find what looks like your location and go from there.
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