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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
On Being a Writer
by Betty Jo Tucker

“It may sound corny, but words are like fire,” says Phil Hall at the beginning of A Writer Named Phil Hall. In this enlightening documentary of special interest to wannabe scribes, Hall explains that -- like fire -- words can warm, burn, and illuminate. He goes on to tell about his extensive and varied experience as a writer, ending with sound advice to those thinking about following in his footsteps.

Ordinarily, I’m turned off by “talking heads” documentaries, but Hall delivers his message in such a friendly, conversational way that it’s almost like he’s sitting across from you in your living room. And he certainly has a lot to offer beginning writers! He’s authored three published books (The Encyclopedia of Underground Movies, Independent Film Distribution, The New PR) and numerous articles for various outlets as well as regular thought-provoking movie reviews for, a highly respected online magazine.

Inspiring young people and bringing aspiring writers to the forefront are important goals for Hall. He also loves to meet people and tell their stories, claiming that’s what writing is all about, whether it’s a letter to the editor, a news article, an essay, a screenplay, a promotional piece, a review, a fiction or non-fiction book, etc. I happen to be one of the people who’s met Hall (granted, only in Cyberspace), and, fortunately, I’m among the many beneficiaries of his writing skills. His perceptive reviews of three of my books helped introduce them to a wider audience. Like all those underground and independent filmmakers he’s brought attention to in his own books and work, I’m very grateful.

Hall pulls no punches in the advice offered here. “You can’t please everybody; not everyone is going to love your writing,” he declares. He’s also very clear about the work required. “Writing isn’t easy -- you have to commit yourself to it … You can’t just put out schlock; you have to make it readable, something that will stand out.”

Thankfully, A Writer Named Phil Hall contains no “shlock.” But it definitely stands out as a helpful documentary for anyone thinking about becoming a writer.    

(Released by Storytellers Productions; not rated by MPAA.) 

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