Writing Wednesday: Richard Stratton

18 May

On Saturday night, I went to a professional’s group gathering in which author-filmmaker Richard Stratton spoke and presented a short film.  My friends were hosting the event in their lovely Financial District apartment, where we could watch the sun set over the Statue of Liberty.  After a cocktail hour of mingling over wine and beer, cheese and pretzels, we settled into chairs to hear more about Stratton’s life story and projects.

Richard Stratton smuggled drugs before getting caught and imprisoned for eight years.  He was friends with Norman Mailer and while in prison wrote the novel Smack Goddess.  The PEN American Prison Writing contest awarded him first prize for a work of fiction in 1989.  He has since gone on to write for Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Spin. 

When he was released from prison, he brought his knowledge and experience into his career as a writer and filmmaker, raising American consciousness on what that life is really like.  He was a consultant on the Emmy Award-winning HBO prison documentary Thug Life in D.C. and on the dramatic prison series Oz and producer for the indie film Slam, a favorite at Cannes and Sundance.  Steve Fishman wrote a great article on Stratton for New York Magazine, which goes into more depth on his fascinating life story.

One tidbit revealed during the chat on Saturday night is that Stratton—who is originally from Provincetown, MA, and now resides in New York—is related to the Lowells who came over on the Mayflower.  Lowell, MA, is named after the Lowells.  Lowell is where Jack Kerouac (On the Road) is from, so if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll probably guess that my ears perked up at the mention of Lowell.  I’ve actually been working on a piece set in Lowell, and now I’m considering doing some more research into the Lowell family.

Stratton is currently working on a film about an autistic child who loses his firefighter father on 9/11, and screened a short of it for us.

The evening inspired me to think more broadly about writing—both in terms of how writing and film are connected and in its purpose for raising awareness for the general public.

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3 Responses to “Writing Wednesday: Richard Stratton”

  1. leslie May 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Perhaps some screenwriting is in order, methinks.

  2. Stephanie Nikolopoulos May 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    Fortunately, I know a playwright, a casting director, and a filmmaker so perhaps they will help me turn my memoirs into something cinematic one day.

  3. Carla Gibson December 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Richard I am thinking of hiring Alan Ellis for a 2255 for my son. what is your opinion of the guy?

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