short films

Abused typewriter keys, crumpled paper: Scenes from movies featuring writer’s block

‘Should I drink coffee now, or should I write first and reward myself later?’

Columnist Roger Simon has that famous quote about writer’s block, “My father never had truck driver’s block. Why should I have writer’s block?”

But the problem does exist. Writer’s Block – A Super Cut, edited by Ivan Kander and Ben Watts, features scenes from 53 American movies that show writers being unable to write. They are cracking their fingers, banging away at typewriters, laptops and personal computers, and filling their waste paper baskets with balls of crumpled paper. The video begins with a scene from the Spike Jonze-Charlie Kaufman collaboration Adaptation (2002), a semi-autobiographical story of Kaufman’s experiences while trying to bring The Orchard Thief, a book he considered unfilmable, to the big screen.

Writer’s Block – A Supercut

The montage draws attention to the fact that despite there being so many films about writers, writing is inherently an uncinematic act. Visually, there aren’t too many ways to show somebody sitting at a desk and typing. Added to that is the problem of how realistic the typing should look? Unless, of course, your actor belongs to Method school of acting and actually types instead of banging away aimlessly at the keyboard.

This was a problem faced by cult director Alex Cox when he was going to direct the film version of Hunter S Thompson’s Gonzo novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The novel has the beloved “Wave” passage about how America has changed over the years. Cox thought that animation was the best route to take in the screen adaptation, which Thompson disagreed with. The two fell out, and Terry Gilliam, who eventually took over directing duties, brought his own touch to the passage.

‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’.

In the top 10 lists on the arthouse DVD label Criterion, not one includes a film about writers and writing. This might be because of two reasons. One is that a novel about a writer will have the ability to depict the character’s interior monologue far more accurately than a movie. Another is that writers might object to such scenes because of possible inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

The Coen brothers’ Barton Fink, about a screenwriter struggling to finish his screenplay, dispenses with realism, creating in the process one of the best-known depictions of writer’s block for the screen.

‘Barton Fink’.
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Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.


It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.