“Read books,” is the number one writing advice you will find on the web, and on creative writing courses. It’s a corner stone, as obvious as researching your target market in business. How are you supposed to write books if you don’t read any? The truth of the matter is, that more than anything, watching films can help you.
Why? After all, a lot of the mainstream cinema is, well..mainstream. It’s done sticking to lots of conventions, to a Michael Bay type boom, or jumps scares. This actually has a lot more to do with writing than you think. If you pay attention, you’ll see that all movies follow conventions (as do books) but some do so better than others. If you watch enough, you begin to understand why, and you can apply it to books. Let me give you an example.
Take the Martian, a story based so obviously on “the journey” archetype of a character. You have the exposition of the mission to Mars, then you have the call to adventure, which is being left alone of the red planet, and so on. Yet this movie is entertaining and you don’t even pay attention to these details whilst you watch it. Why is that? What can you learn form it as a writer?
That ideas are key and scenes are key. The one thing you’ll learn about writing from watching films, is how to show a scene in your writing and how to cut it, how to swap views between characters or in time to achieve the suspense you need. This is golden advice, because as a writer you need to use words to make that film scene pop into your readers mind.