the candler blog

Lindsay Doran Examines What Makes Films Satisfying

Ms. Doran is an omnivore who likes movies light, dark and in between. But when she attended the Austin Film Festival last year, “something I found both terribly sad and terribly sympathetic,” she recently recalled, “is that aspiring screenwriters ask again and again, ‘What can I write that a financier wants to make?’ Not, ‘What can I write that fills me with joy?’”

After reading the book “Flourish,” by Martin E. P. Seligman, a catalyst of the positive-psychology movement, she began rewatching films through the lens of what Dr. Seligman identifies as the five essential elements of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. (He refers to these elements collectively as perma.)

So happy to see Carrie Rickey have a piece in the Times. She was “my” film critic growing up in the Philadelphia Inquirer where she worked full-time until last October. Great article on the application of positive psychology to screenwriting.

I’m not sure how I feel about Doran’s prescriptions yet, but it’s always nice to hear someone talk about writing a movie you love instead of one that’s easiest to market. Then again, most of the examples cited here are box office hits, so I’ll give this theory a hot minute before it just turns into another “get rich quick” formula by marketers.