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Career Editing: 6 Songwriters Turned Screenwriters

Career Editing: 6 Songwriters Turned Screenwriters

Last week singer-songwriter and dubious indie sensation Lana Del Rey told Australian Vogue that film work is her "happy place" and that she plans to make the transition into writing for film and "stay there." Whether this means she will stop making music or not is anyone's guess and whether that's a good or bad thing rests on your appreciation of disastrous SNL performances. I'm not going to make that judgment here.

One of the main inspirations for being a songwriter in the first place is a desire to tell your story or the stories of others through the art of poetry and song. So it should come as no surprise that many of the great in musical minds who brought you epic tales through their soul-stirring ballads (and Lana Del Rey) would want to try their hand at writing stories in other forms as well. It should also come as no surprise that the people who have made this jump have had wildly divergent levels of success.

5. Nick Cave

Not only is Cave a prolific songwriter and novelist, he's written two feature films thus far, both critically acclaimed. In keeping with typical Nick Cave fare, they're also both westerns. One, The Proposition, came out in 2005. His most recent one, Lawless, is in theaters now. He also wrote that insane(ly awesome) rejected Gladiator 2 screenplay. Next up on Cave's agenda is a Crow remake. The mind boggles at what Cave might do with that concept.

4. Bob Dylan

You would think Bob would have stepped into the shoes of screenwriter a lot sooner and a lot more often considering his way with words and storytelling. Unfortunately, it seems that's just not something Bob can pull off. He's done it twice, both times to very little success. His 1978 film Renaldo and Clara, a mix of documentary, live footage, and bizarre fictional segments, was an incoherent mess that came in one of Dylan's "down" creative periods.

The second, his 2003 film Masked and Anonymous, co-written with Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Borat writer/director Larry Charles, was critically panned and criticized as a "vanity production beyond all reason" by Roger Ebert.

3. Ice Cube

Whenever somebody listens to Ice Cube, they usually think of three things: "It Was a Good Day,"Friday, and Are We There Yet? If they're anything like me, they also think of that horrible xXx sequel (xXx: State of the Union) he inexplicably starred in, because I love things that make absolutely no sense.

What few people think of is the fact that Ice Cube actually wrote Friday and its sequels, as well as The Player's Club and All About the Benjamins. There's something utterly bizarre about the fact that Ice Cube has written more, and more successful, films than Bob Dylan, but it's awesome as a useless trivia fact.

  3. Prince

Bob Dylan may not have had much success in Hollywood, but there is perhaps no one who made the jump to writing for film worse than Prince. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Purple Rain is my favorite movie! Prince is a great screenwriter!" The only problem is that he's not. He's actually horrible at it. See, Prince only starred in and composed the music for Purple Rain. The only movie Prince wrote was Graffiti Bridge. Unless you're a massive fan of the Artist, you've probably never even heard of it. That's a good thing.

Graffiti Bridge is a bizarre, low-budget, quasi-sequel to Purple Rain released in 1990. It is essentially exactly the same as Purple Rain except the story (what little there is) subs in spirituality and surreal imagery for anything resembling entertainment or logic. It got Prince nominated for a Razzie for Worst Screenplay (as well as Worst Director, Worst Actor, Worst Picture, and Worst New Star for Prince's then-girlfriend and Apollonia substitute Ingrid Chavez) and thankfully drove Prince out of Hollywood forever.

2. Paul McCartney

Give My Regards to Broad Street might not be as awful as Graffiti Bridge, but it got pretty close. Even the worst of the Beatles movies had a sense of whimsy and fun to them that carried you through whatever droll monotony the boys were undergoing. For Give My Regards it seems someone put Paul onto "dry British humor" and he took it way too far.

The film is certainly "dry" and "British," but the disinterest of the actors, including Paul, his late wife Linda, erstwhile bandmate Ringo Starr, and Tracy Ullman, is only surpassed by the disinterest of the audience. The plot, similarly, goes nowhere and makes little sense, but it doesn't matter because SPOILERS FOR A 28 YEAR OLD MOVIE (like you'd want to watch this anyway): it's all a dream Paul was having in the end. Also, Paul was dead the whole time.

  1. Rob Zombie

Strange that the most indisputably successful filmmaker on this list is probably the least regarded musician. Nevertheless, whether you enjoy Rob Zombie's industrial "horror metal" stylings or not, the ex-White Zombie frontman has certainly made a name for himself in the horror film world, writing and directing the widely acclaimed movies House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.

For his next trick, he even managed to sell audiences on a remake of Halloween. Your mileage may vary on that, but the numbers don't lie: both the remake and the sequel were huge box office successes, especially in light of their tight budgets. His next one, The Lords of Salem, is due in 2013.


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