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Girl on Film

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Follow novelist Cecil Castellucci in this insightful memoir of making art, the nature of memory, and being a teenager in 80s New York City. One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artiste. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then in 1980 the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see Follow novelist Cecil Castellucci in this insightful memoir of making art, the nature of memory, and being a teenager in 80s New York City. One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artiste. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then in 1980 the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see that movie. It was rated R and she was ten. But she did watch the television show and would pretend with her friends that she was going to that school. Of course they were playing. She was not. She was destined to be an art school kid. Chronicling the life of award-winning young adult novelist, and Eisner-nominated comics scribe Cecil Castellucci (Shade the Changing Girl, Star Wars: Moving Target), Girl On Film follows a passionate aspiring artist from the youngest age through adulthood to deeply examine the arduous pursuit of filmmaking, while exploring the act of memory and how it recalls and reshapes what we think we truly know about ourselves.


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Follow novelist Cecil Castellucci in this insightful memoir of making art, the nature of memory, and being a teenager in 80s New York City. One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artiste. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then in 1980 the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see Follow novelist Cecil Castellucci in this insightful memoir of making art, the nature of memory, and being a teenager in 80s New York City. One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artiste. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then in 1980 the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see that movie. It was rated R and she was ten. But she did watch the television show and would pretend with her friends that she was going to that school. Of course they were playing. She was not. She was destined to be an art school kid. Chronicling the life of award-winning young adult novelist, and Eisner-nominated comics scribe Cecil Castellucci (Shade the Changing Girl, Star Wars: Moving Target), Girl On Film follows a passionate aspiring artist from the youngest age through adulthood to deeply examine the arduous pursuit of filmmaking, while exploring the act of memory and how it recalls and reshapes what we think we truly know about ourselves.

30 review for Girl on Film

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    I've only read a couple of Cecil Castellucci's books (The Plain Janes and Janes in Love, to be specific) and I was kind of lukewarm on them, so I'm not sure why I was so on fire to read Girl on Film. Fortunately, my instinct turned out to be correct: This was a SUPER FUN memoir-in-comics. It serves as both a coming-of-age tale of Castellucci's determination to live a creative life (or "art life," as she calls it) and a vibrant depiction of the art scenes in Manhattan in the 1980s and Montreal in I've only read a couple of Cecil Castellucci's books (The Plain Janes and Janes in Love, to be specific) and I was kind of lukewarm on them, so I'm not sure why I was so on fire to read Girl on Film. Fortunately, my instinct turned out to be correct: This was a SUPER FUN memoir-in-comics. It serves as both a coming-of-age tale of Castellucci's determination to live a creative life (or "art life," as she calls it) and a vibrant depiction of the art scenes in Manhattan in the 1980s and Montreal in the 1990s. The art is beautiful, bright and colorful, and the whole thing is (did I mention?) super fun, with the added bonus of gossipy tales of celebrities (Jennifer Aniston, Martha Plimpton, etc.) as teenagers. If you like comics centered around young females finding themselves, Girl on Film is for you and you should check it out. You can thank me later!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary McCoy

    This is a very special book about what it means to be an artist, not just the follow-your-heart passion parts, but the harder parts as well: disappointment, frustration, the moments where your reach exceeds your grasp, and outright failure. But in this book, none of that is a tragedy or cause for bitterness. It's part of the journey, it's what constructs an artist's heart, and it's beautiful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    I enjoyed following the ebb & flow of Cecil's artistic life and the conversations about memory with her father. There was so much time spent on her high school & college-age years, though, and I wanted the same for her adult years in LA. But I'm in my thirties and very interested in how the creative life is lived beyond your twenties. Would highly recommend for budding artists.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Esmée

    A really cool way of looking at growing up wanting to be an artist. I liked how it was interspersed with theory on memory as it is a memoir. The art was really good as well!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Estepp

    2 1/2? I feel like there was a point in my life when I would've been all about this book. But that point is not now, when it felt a little pretentious and name-droppy. And I very rarely like it when authors interrupt their straight memoir to make cultural or philosophical or whatever-al points, which happens frequently here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I get it and recognize what it was trying to accomplish, but it felt like it was trying to do too many things at once. The interruptions with her father discussing memory where just that, interruptions-- it needed to be either a more omnipresent part of the storytelling to seamlessly fold into the narrative or pull it out altogether. And I'm certainly not judging/rating her memoir/life story which is sometimes how it feels rating a nonfiction biography or memoir, but this simply didn't tell a I get it and recognize what it was trying to accomplish, but it felt like it was trying to do too many things at once. The interruptions with her father discussing memory where just that, interruptions-- it needed to be either a more omnipresent part of the storytelling to seamlessly fold into the narrative or pull it out altogether. And I'm certainly not judging/rating her memoir/life story which is sometimes how it feels rating a nonfiction biography or memoir, but this simply didn't tell a focused and fascinating enough tale because it's "historical" for a lot of the teens who could read and be inspired on it (as evidenced by her side note about smoking was seen as cool and everyone did it but it's not that great for you i.e. "don't do it kids") and how the performing arts school operated and who the celebrities were and meeting Andy Warhol, yet the bones of the story- the message that art is hard but you stick to your guns, you have fun, you explore, and it'll still be hard is at the core and for that, I thoroughly connected with the message. All told, the storytelling was scattered with all that was going on and her whims and passions and crushes that didn't come off as cohesive enough to nail down and have stronger more emotional and cerebral takeaways.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    When Cecil Castellucci first saw Star Wars: A New Hope, her future was sealed. She would become a filmmaker. Girl on Film is her journey to not quite reaching that destination. Full review at WWAC

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Boldon

    A good memoir, mixing science theory on memory with personal history of an artist's development. I found the multiple artists distracting. I would have preferred only 2 for the contrast. Four made it feel muddled.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Cogswell

    This is a fantastic book to use as a read aloud for fourth grade and up. It is about a girl named Cecil who was inspired by the original star wars movie in the 80's to become an artist. Then a new movie called "Fame" came out but the problem was Cecil was 10 and the movie was rated R. However, this did not stop Cecil from fantasizing about her dream of becoming an artist. Throughout the book she displays her passion to one day turn that dream into reality. Not only does this expose students to This is a fantastic book to use as a read aloud for fourth grade and up. It is about a girl named Cecil who was inspired by the original star wars movie in the 80's to become an artist. Then a new movie called "Fame" came out but the problem was Cecil was 10 and the movie was rated R. However, this did not stop Cecil from fantasizing about her dream of becoming an artist. Throughout the book she displays her passion to one day turn that dream into reality. Not only does this expose students to different types of literature, it sends a message to students to create goals and reach for the stars!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sunny Carito

    I would say 2.5. I liked the discussion of the changing relationship you can have with art and I even liked the breaks where she discussed memory with her father, but I felt the way the story was told and paced was lacking, there seemed like there was a lot of name dropping which was confusing in that the art didn’t really make the ones directly dropped recognizable. The thing that got to me the most though was the mistakes in the text, which for an acclaimed ya author was surprising. I think I would say 2.5. I liked the discussion of the changing relationship you can have with art and I even liked the breaks where she discussed memory with her father, but I felt the way the story was told and paced was lacking, there seemed like there was a lot of name dropping which was confusing in that the art didn’t really make the ones directly dropped recognizable. The thing that got to me the most though was the mistakes in the text, which for an acclaimed ya author was surprising. I think this has a lot of interest for teens and I can definitely see this lighting up my teen filmmaker self once upon a time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    dearlittledeer

    This was a really interesting look at Cecil Castellucci's early years. Even if you aren't familiar with her other book, I'd recommend it to someone who's interested in filmmaking and/or storytelling. I LOVED all the namedropping/hinting at her celebrity friends and acquaintances (Chaz Bono, Jennifer Aniston, Mo Willems, to name a few...) I felt like the scenes looking at the science of memory weren't really my thing but someone else may enjoy them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tabrizia

    Her story was intriguing but not interesting enough for.me to continue. I don't know, maybe I'm having a hard time understanding why her story differs from any other ambitious story and she can write a memoir. Also there were times when she went off tangent which messed up the flow of the narrative.

  13. 4 out of 5

    wildct2003

    Disappointed. Did not finish. Story was not compelling enough for me. Also, story was interrupted several times by her parents discussing memory.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    This is just what I needed today. Such a great book about being an artist and what art means and producing art. Definitely going to be rereading this soon for more inspiration.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Val Freire

    exceptional.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Hillis

    I love that she never gave up on her lifelong dream, even if that dream did change, she kept making art.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Interesting biography intermixed with a briefing on how memory works. Recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    What really did me in were these long asides about the nature of memory. Backstory: her parents are scientists. Her father specializes in memory. I suppose while drafting this book she realized the flaws in her remembered timeline. She chose to add in her conversations with her dad about the failings of her memory. http://pussreboots.com/blog/2019/comm...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  20. 5 out of 5

    bet mercer

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andi

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rose-Mary

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lainey

  25. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark Beauchamp

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ikitiputang

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katy

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