From Memoir to Movie Script
A talk with memoirist Pam Mandel about learning to write the award-winning screenplay version of her memoir, plus writing and shooting another short film.
This is the sixth in a series of behind the scenes video interviews with authors, editors, and others in the field about aspects of publishing personal essays, essay collections, and memoirs. Previously, I’ve interviewed poet Maggie Smith about switching to memoir; author Abigail Thomas about her latest memoir with tiny Golden Notebook Press; Chloe Caldwell about acting as her own agent, Tajja Isen about the limited value of critical acclaim, publicist Lauren Cerand about aspects of book publicity you can handle yourself.
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Have you ever thought of writing a screenplay based on your life, or on your memoir, but worried that inexperience with the form would be an obstacle?
For this installment I’ve interviewed memoirist Pam Mandel, who learned to write for film on the fly after being approached by a producer interested in co-writing a screen play based on her’s 2020 book, The Same River Twice: A Memoir of Dirtbag Backpackers, Bomb Shelters, and Bad Travel.
Their screenplay has since won multiple awards. They also co-wrote a short film based on another personal experience of Mandel’s, and recently shot it. They hope to use the short to sell the screenplay.
I’m a big fan of Mandel’s book, a coming-of-age memoir that involves lots of travel, and some bad turns—which fortunately lead to self-discovery. I first interviewed her for Personal Space: The Memoir Show, a video series I was doing for LitHub’s Virtual Book Channel in the first year of the the pandemic.
Below is our more recent interview. Hope you enjoy it! - Sari