Saturday, June 8, 2013

Writing a screenplay in one week: Day Four - Seven

Total Page count: 95

So much for writing this every day. This was actually a procrastination attempt that whenever I got stuck somewhere in the script I would just come here and write these blog entries.

But then I wasn't really getting stuck anymore and then other things happened.

What other things?

Well around page 60 we got word that maybe our entire premise wasn't going to work even though we had written a one page synopsis that outlined the entire premise and we got the go ahead to write the feature.

So that held up any writing for about a day or so. I wasn't going to keep writing if the entire thing needed to be scrapped. Well that turned out to be somewhat of a miscommunication/misunderstanding. So I asked that they come back with exactly what they were looking for out of this screenplay.

They came back with almost exactly what we had written. Almost. There were a few things here or there that were different, and I thought what we had written was a bit better or at least more current/topical. So I sent a very long breakdown of what we had written so far (the 60 pages) and they said they liked it and to keep going.

So around 5pm yesterday, June 7th, exactly seven days after starting, I came in around 95 pages.

I was shooting for 100-110, but 95 is still feature length and it still gives us room to add more if need be. Also, for something that will probably have a relatively low budget ( less than 1 million ) the less pages the better as it would cut down on the shooting days.

Writing a feature length script in one week isn't remarkable. There are some people who can write one in an even shorter amount of time, however even at one week it needs work. I'm sure there are sub plots we could add or explore, scenes which probably run long and many, many other things. But one week is still a pretty quick turn around.

So what did I do to just get through it?

Well, getting through it is the important part. As I've noted before, until it's actually on paper and an actual thing, you don't have shit. It's an idea and no one gives a fuck about your idea. I mean, they do, but they can't buy your idea.

I don't do a lot of prep work. Most of the prep work I do in my head. Louise CK has mentioned this as well that he'll "write" in his head for 3 months, then just puke it out on the page in a 3 or 4 day writing binge.  That's basically my style as well.

So I suppose the point I'm trying to make is you need to just keep writing. If you get "stuck" at any part just write through it. If you know what the next scene is going to be, just go write that. I know John August does this method. He'll actually write out of order. If he knows the scene that takes place that sends us into Act 3, even though he's just written the setup, then he'll go write that. I sorta did that as I knew exactly what I wanted the final images to be as it contrasted with the opening shot. So I wrote that way ahead of time.  That's another big thing.

KNOW YOUR ENDING

If you don't know how the movie ends, don't start writing. I've got about 10 scripts on my hard drive that range from a few pages to 30 to 40 pages that just sit there going nowhere. Why? Probably because I had no idea what the ending was going to be when I started writing. The ending is so important becuase it lets you know how to start.

Another rule I try to follow on first drafts is to not go back and revise. At least don't do it yourself. You'll never finish if you do that. On this project, I co-wrote it with my brother so I had him review pages as I wrote them and then asked him to think about future scenes we needed and to write them. He writes everything in novel form and I'll take what he has and translate it to screenplay format. But while I was cranking out 10 to 20 pages per day I would send him the latest pages and he'd go through it and write notes or suggestions. I often didn't read these right away as I'd just get stuck in the previous pages and not move forward.

Again the key is, MOVE FORWARD!

I think it was day five or six where I finally went through about six pages of his notes and cleaned up the first 80 pages or so.

Today, we are going to read the script out loud which can help you find things that just don't make any sense and do a final polish before sending it to the producer for their review.

Good times.

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