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Film Reviews That Still Stand Up

Back in 1996, I was employed as a Senior Writer for Boxoffice Magazine, then the premiere national magazine for the film exhibition industry. My job consisted of writing film reviews for new releases, mostly independent movies, as well as interviewing movie theater owners, film producers and directors.

I was reading some of the reviews I wrote back then and really enjoyed reminiscing about that time in my life when I would see 3 or 4 films a week and get paid to watch them and review them. What a great life that was!

Here’s an example of one of the reviews I wrote for Boxoffice Magazine, which sadly, is no longer is published:

WAR STORIES OUR MOTHERS NEVER TOLD US 

*** I gave this movie three stars

   Featuring Pamela Quill, Flo Small, Tui Preston, Jean Andrews, Rita Graham, Neva Clarke McKenna and Mabel Waititi. Directed and produced by Gaylene Preston. A First Run release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 88 min.

In this retrospective documentary, produced in association with The New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand On Air, seven aging women recount in intimate detail their heartfelt stories of love, romance, marriage and–too often–loss, as the men were called away to World War II.    Juxtaposing images of then and now, thanks to vintage war film footage and treasured sepia photographs of the interviewees, each woman relates in remarkably candid detail the way things were back then recalling their often-frantic efforts to marry before the war wrenched away the men they loved. Using a single camera, the women, now in their late ’70s and ’80s, respond to questions posed by an off-screen interviewer. As these memories bubble to the surface, so do the bottled-up emotions associated with their youth as they relive the times and memories of 50-years ago. In presenting these interviews in a simple, unencumbered format, the focus remains on the significance of the stories each chooses to tell, shedding a whole new light on world history–that of a women’s point of view.    While the dialogue is occasionally difficult to understand (due to dialect differences), the film is extremely interesting and informative, presenting a range of human experiences. From the POW widow to the female army soldier captured by the enemy, to the wife of the conscientious objector who suffered for her husband’s political views, each story is unique. For those who are too young to remember a World War or even those who do, War Stories pays homage to those times. Rather than dwelling on sadness, it celebrates life–that of the survivors and the men who never came back from the war.  -Pat Kramer

If you would like to read more of my film reviews, please click on this link: Writer For HireBoxoffice Magazine – Writer For Hire (writerpatkramer.com)

Writing Family Memoirs: MEMOIRS CAPTURE SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS IN FAMILY HISTORIES

One of the most interesting aspects of my work is in writing family memoirs by interviewing the eldest member of the family and capturing the significant moments of their lives. I am honored to provide this service to people all over the world through telephonic interviews as well as Skype interviews, and sometimes in person. By doing these interviews, I am able to record stories from senior family members whose legacies then live on to benefit future generations.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of interesting people, such as:

  • Lawrence, a wealth advisor and investment broker who wanted his family’s ethics and values to be preserved for future generations
  • Vito, an Italian-American banking official whose very colorful memories of growing up on Long Island may someday become a comedic screen play
  • Gloria, a psychotherapist in Burbank, whose traumatic journey to her present career began with her parents sending her from Iraq to America, all alone, at the age of six to attend boarding school
  • Israel, a Chicago-born Hasidic Jew who defied his family by choosing a career path other than that of a rabbi, breaking their centuries-old lineage of high – ranking religious leaders

Everyone has a story to tell, whether of family members who fought in the war, grew up during the depression, or survived difficult circumstances that they wish to impart to others.

For my own family history, I chose to blaze paths in all four directions through my mother’s and father’s parents’ lineages, and in doing so, I learned who my ancestors were and what their struggles entailed in coming to America from Russia, Germany and Austria. Like most kids of the Baby Boomer age, I always tried to blend in and not be different, but now as I get older, it’s important to me to know more about the past.

My family histories were interesting and painful, joyous and sad, but most of all, they were enlightening. I got to interview more than 35 surviving members of one branch of my family and about two dozen for the remaining 3 branches. I learned of family feuds that kept going until death, of commonalities in the causes of death of my ancestors, and I learned of tragic losses that people bore and survived. It was fulfilling to produce these stories and it brought the surviving relatives all closer together.

Memories are important – and that’s why I love to write people’s memoirs. Once I capture stories on paper they live on after a person’s life ends. Story telling is an art and involves the ability to compassionately listen to the telling of stories, along with the ability to document and retell it in living color. It is the type of writing I enjoy doing most and the one that gives me the greatest satisfaction in doing what I do as Writer For Hire.

If you are interested in capturing the memories of a loved one, don’t wait too long. Memories can fade as one ages and waiting too long can make a big difference in the accuracy of a story. Most of all, once a person passes, there is often a big gap in information that no one else can fill.

How does it work? The process is relatively easy:

A family member serves as my point of contact with the loved one who I speak with by phone or sometimes in person. I then document their memories and turn it into a story. The process can be as short as one afternoon or it can evolve into a series of conversations that are told in the form of an essay. If more than one person wants to interact with me, I can involve them in the conversation or speak with them privately. For more information on Writing Memoirs, please email: pat@writerpatkramer.com or call me: (818) 353-5699.

What Makes You Different or Better Than Your Competition?

This morning I attended an interesting presentation by Eloqui, which is a consultancy that helps business people improve their speaking presentations. As part of a group of 30 or so business people, I was asked to recall from my background anything that could have contributed to my success in my career as a writer for businesses.

I thought about it and recalled that, as early as 8 years old, I loved to read. Not only did I love to read, but I also loved to write. Reading expanded my vocabulary and writing helped me put into action the words I was learning from the many authors I read. Consequently, I learned to love stories about people, their lives, their experiences, and their difficulties and challenges. Mostly, I loved reading about how people had overcome their challenges and learned to use them in ways that were truly inspiring.

My interest in reading and writing led me to Emerson College where I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications. I then used my education to land a job as a radio news reporter – and later as a print news journalist – to tell people stories. That’s essentially what news journalists do: they tell stories about what they see, hear, or experience. Of course, there’s a formula that we have to use in distilling that information to the public, but broken down in its simplest terms, I learned how to tell stories about my subjects, both as a writer and a speaker.

Today, I use my love for story telling in writing about my clients: their accomplishments, their challenges, how they solve problems for their clients, and how they use their experience in unique ways to differentiate themselves (and their companies) from their competition.

Today’s exercise was a valuable one: it reminded me why, as Writer For Hire, I am unique and different from other writers in my field. I know that if you are reading this, you also can use your experience, challenges, and love for what you do in your business.

Writer For Hire Pat Kramer is a business writer, ghostwriter, and social media pro with 30 years’ experience in the news media and as a business writer and marketing/PR strategist. For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com.