Wednesday, January 28, 2009

HOW DID I GET HERE? - PART ONE: THE SCRIPT

So. Here I am, on the threshold of financing my first feature film, experiencing a blend of optimism, pessimism, fatalism, hope, anxiety which all balance themselves out to become a state of indifference. The result: I have at last attained that much coveted 1,000-yard-stare.

But how did I get here?

How indeed.

Well in order to direct a great feature film, one needs a great script. The problem with great scripts is that they don't grow on trees. And if anybody I know did have one, they'd be a fool to give it up to some numpty-first-time film maker for free. They should sell it for megabucks or make it themselves. Or whatever they need. 

So, without the funds required to purchase a script, and lacking super-talented friends willing to write some shit for free I had only one course of action.

In order to find a great script, I'd have to write it myself.

Previously, I have co-written a science-fiction film with a very talented guy and I'd learned a lot about the process. So I started to solo-write a project - a contemporary crime-thriller-prison- revenge-story. After about 3 months, what started off as a very neat and nice idea became bogged down it convoluted, hackneyed, cliched bullshit. I was frustrated that what started as a great idea became a fucking mess.

So, after some meetings with some people I made the hard choice to start again, this time taking on-board a piece of useful advice: 'stick to what you know'

I have been a true fan of horror movies since I was a kid -- and it's the one genre of movie, I know the most about -- so instead of writing a thriller, I decided to write a horror. I excavated a short script that I'd written seven years ago and found it to have a SOLID core with some great ideas.  So I sat around, expanding, developed, and began to write the script.

June 2007

After 3 months of writing, I'd hammered out a rough draft. I remember sitting on Brighton Beach on my 29th birthday with this cute 19 year old girl and talking about how awesome my script was. And how the next step was to go find a way to film it.

Shortly after this, I had a few development meetings and the feedback was the same. 

The script was complete and utter shit - It was a horrible, nasty, sinking feeling. Made worse by the fact that I was the one responsible for this atrocious mess. It was a horrible feeling. 

I'd say it was devastating. aside from one reality,  the script WAS shit. and it was my fault. During these meetings I defended the story arguing about certain core-elements and I could see that the points I were making were getting though and making sense --- BUT these story elements I was arguing about actually didn't exist in the script, at least not in the way I thought they did.

The truth was that I had a great story, but it was NOT on paper. My inexperience as a writer meant that what I had written was no reflection of what I wanted to write. Somehow I assumed that everything I wanted to be in there would get in there whether I wrote it or not.

It sounds fantastically stupid to do this, and worse still, I had done an identical thing at film school ten years ago with my first short film. I had this ludicrous belief that if I put a hot girl, a nice car, some drugs, some gangsters and a love story and some other stupid bits together then somehow is would become a SUPER SWEET SHORT FILM.

How fucking wrong was I.

So there I was with a horror-script with some violence, some sex, some tits, some blood, some scary bits, a bit that will make people jump, a bit that will make people tense, a bit that will make people think: wow, this is such a cool film --- and yet, somehow despite all these parts, it was a terrible, misguided croque of steaming turd.

That awful feeling of despair, that sinking feeling became my friend. It only lasted 12 hours, because, I knew immediately that it would be solved only one way.

RE-WRITING!


3 Comments:

Anonymous naomi said...

i absolutely love to write; yet i cannot use a camera (creadibly, at least). it is so frustrating. just like i make my own clothes, i can't actually sketch out the drawings of the models a course requires you to. grrrr. then you get those know-it-alls that can do it all! i hate it when it comes to my favourite things in the world, when i have a god-given talent but just dont brush up in every little subcatagory that goes with it. but hey, thats life, right?
anyway... nice to see a uk blog. i know there are thousands but not thousands i like reading. i am trying to work out a layout for my blog ive got for my new domain so after i have done that ill put you on the side on the roll with my only other one british writer. nice to meet ya :)
p.s. im reading a book about "how to write your own screenplay" that i picked up from the charity shop two weeks back. judging by the fact i know nothing about scripwriting, i dont think im allowed to comment on its worth.
p.s.s i love horrors; right from Killer Klowns From Outter Space to People Under the stairs to Candyman- pretty much all!

1/29/2009 9:04 pm  
Blogger Doom/Blondie said...

hey you. nice to meet you. i'll friends with somebody else who was part of junkylife...

a long stort, for another time
xo

1/30/2009 5:08 am  
Blogger Keyword said...

Hello there... care to add your blog at KeywordDir.info?

1/30/2009 5:18 am  

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