Unfortunately, I don't have number 5 to show. All rights for movie artwork shown belong to their respective owners.

Watching anything from movies to regular TV is often viewed as a distraction that should be avoided, but some people work better with background noise. I've noticed on Twitter a lot of people discussing things they enjoy doing while writing, and watching movies, to my surprise, is one of them. My writing habits change with my mood, but many times, I enjoy writing to movies, too. Since I know now that there are others who feel the same, I decided to create a list of my top five favorite movies to write to. Writing while watching movies often helps my productivity if it’s a show I’m familiar with and if that movie has elements that stir my imagination. The movies below are my favorite to write to for their visuals (which are important when I do glance at the movie), the emotional impact of their stories, and their music. Even the cadence of their dialogue has a positive influence. I chose movies I felt have great atmospheres and rarely any silent patches so the background noise is mostly continuous to allow for a nice low drone. Of course, if it’s your first time watching any of these, they’ll probably be more distracting for you than they are for me.


1. Howl’s Moving Castle

This is, in fact, one I recently wrote around 2,000 words to. I’ve loved every film I’ve watched by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. From My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away, all of Miyazaki’s movies are masterpieces of art, music, and storytelling that resonate with many viewers long after they end. I’ve found them to be wonderful inspiration for my own work. Following the story of a girl who’s cursed to live as an old woman and who seeks help from a powerful wizard who lives in a walking castle, Howl’s Moving Castle, based on Diana Wynne Jones’s novel of the same name (which I loved even more than the film), is especially steeped in the magic, music, and emotions that work wonders for my writing. Check out the trailer here.


2. Imaginaerum (by Nightwish)   

If you’re looking for a movie that will submerse you in an otherworldly and fantastical experience to set the tone for your writing, look no further than Imaginaerum, a movie developed with Finnish heavy metal band Nightwish’s album of the same name. The movie’s creepy atmosphere, excellent musical score (it features music from Nightwish's Imaginaerum album), and engaging visuals are sure to spur the imagination. Most of the movie takes place in the mind of an old musician suffering from dementia. After he falls into a coma, he travels through the wondrous world of his mind in search of what he’d forgotten. Meanwhile, in the outside world, his daughter tries to come to terms with her anger toward him and her grief by piecing together his final score. Here’s the trailer.


3. The Phantom of the Opera

When it comes to the music of The Phantom of the Opera, I’m a bigger fan of the 25th Anniversary Edition with Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo, but the movie version with Emmi Rossum and Gerard Butler excels in its visuals. Since this list takes into account the visuals as well as the music, Joel Schumacher’s version won this spot over the 25th Anniversary Edition. If you’ve never seen it before or heard of the Gaston Leroux novel it’s loosely based on, The Phantom of the Opera is the story of an opera singer who’s trained by a disfigured man she believes to be the Angel of Music. Things become more complicated when she’s reunited with an old flame of hers that stirs her Angel of Music’s wrath. Here’s the trailer.


4. Hannibal

Especially great for scary stories and mysteries, Hannibal is a classic. It follows The Silence of the Lambs, but you don’t necessarily have to watch or read that one first to enjoy Hannibal, though it may be harder to follow without knowing what led up to it. I love the entire collection of Hannibal Lecter movies (and books) but writing to Hannibal was a much more enjoyable experience than writing to the others in the series that I’ve tried. With rich scenery, ambient music, and an overarching sense of dread and longing, this is a great film to write to. Hannibal is the story of FBI agent Clarice Starling as she struggles to hunt down cannibalistic ex-psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter while also confronting persecution from her own people. That’s a very bare-bones description, like the others on this list. To see the trailer, click here.


5. Wolf’s Rain

This is a short anime series with above average art, amazing voice-acting, and a score that goes to the heart. To my disappointment it's one that I don't have, but it is available online and on DVD. The series, set in a dystopian world, follows a pack of wolves disguised as humans as they search for the fabled flower maiden who can open the path to paradise. This series has a haunting, touching story and an often nostalgic and soothing ambiance. Here’s the trailer.


Well, that wraps it up. Do you have movies you love writing to? If so, let me know in the comments below! You might help me find a new favorite. Hopefully, this list will help you find something new that you like.