The Movie that Moved You.
Like a great book, a great movie can move you in ways you never thought possible. The first time I had a movie grip me was the first time I watched Gone with the Wind. I’d grown up watching classic films on KTLA’s Family Film Festival with Tom Hatton (Southern California people should remember him), but I had never seen Gone with the Wind.
A friend of mine owned the film on VHS and I borrowed it from her during the summer between my seventh and eighth grade years. The film didn’t just entertain me, it gripped me and wouldn’t let go. There was something about Scarlett’s determination to survive; her belief that tomorrow would bring another chance to change her life or obtain what she wanted that captivated me.
To this day, it remains one of my favorite films of all time. I’ve seen it more times than I can list, including twice on the big screen, and I’ve read countless books and articles on the film and its production. I pay homage to the film and the era in which it was made in my latest release, STUDIO RELATIONS.
In STUDIO RELATIONS , female director Vivien Howard comes to blows with handsome studio executive Weston Holmes during the making of her dream project, Storm of the South. I have a background in film history, so I knew a great deal about Hollywood in the 1930s. However, while writing Studio Relations, there were many times when I needed specific details, such as how studios handled premieres, and that’s when my knowledge of the making of Gone with the Wind really helped me craft scenes that were authentic to the time period. I studied many pictures of the Gone with the Wind premiere and watched old news footage to see how stars maneuvered the red carpet and the radio interviews.
Besides drawing on the production history of Gone with the Wind for my inspiration, I also did a great deal of research into 1930’s Hollywood and Los Angeles. I studied the production code that dictated what could and could not be shown in films, the cultural climate that brought it into play and how it affected film production. I read books about Hollywood history and reviewed old pictures of such Hollywood iconic sites as the Cocoanut Grove nightclub and old Beverly Hills.
I used to work at the old MGM studio lot in Culver City where many of the original sound-stages including the one where they filmed Gone with the Wind, are still in use today. I used my first-hand experience of being on a classic film studio lot to craft many of the scenes that take place at the book’s fictional Lion Studios. I also drew on the history of movie-making from the silent era through 1935 to give my characters depth.
I crafted Vivien as someone who grew up in the studio system, first as a child actress in an Our Gang type series and then later working and learning from her director father. Although it was unusual for women to work behind the camera as something more than a script girl or seamstress, a number of women who began their careers in the silent era retained themselves and rose through the ranks once Hollywood entered the era of the “talkies.”
The silent film actress Mary Pickford helped to form United Artists, and I created a similar character and a similar independent studio where one strong woman could help Vivien realize her potential and her dream of being a director.
I had a blast both researching and writing STUDIO RELATIONS . It was fun incorporating my love of Gone with the Wind, my research and my personal experience working in Hollywood into the book.
So tell me, what movie gripped you and still hasn’t let go? Has your favorite movie ever inspired you to write a novel or short story? I’m curious to know what films have inspired other writers.
Vivien Howard hasn’t forgiven Weston Holmes for almost derailing her career five years ago. Female directors in 1930s Hollywood are few and far between, and a man who coasts by on his good looks and family connections can’t possibly appreciate what it took for her to get to where she is. But when the studio head puts Weston in charge of overseeing Vivien’s ambitious Civil War film, she realizes she has a choice: make nice with her charismatic new boss or watch a replacement director destroy her dream.
Weston Holmes doesn’t know much about making movies, but he knows plenty about money. And thanks to the Depression, ticket sales are dangerously low. The studio can’t afford a flop—or bad press, which is exactly what threatens to unfold when an innocent encounter between Weston and Vivien is misconstrued by the gossip rags.
The only solution? A marriage of convenience that will force the bickering duo into an unlikely alliance—and guide them to their own happy Hollywood ending.
A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her first novel, Lady’s Wager, and her contemporary novella, Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood, and Studio Relations, a love story set in 1935 Hollywood, are currently available from Montlake Romance. Look for her Regency novella, Hero’s Redemption from Carina Press in July 2013, and her Regency novel, Engagement of Convenience, from Harlequin Historical on October 2013.
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.