I had a very interesting chat last night with the director of my new short project. His latest venture: a whodunit/thriller. Materials so far include character descriptions, a scene-by-scene breakdown and a one-paragraph synopsis.
I’ve never written an out-and-out thriller before, but am always up for a challenge. Even more so when I’ve got a maximum time limit of 25 minutes. I know this isn’t going to change cinema as we know it, but it’s fun to try.
He’s a very nice guy, but I worry he’s too influenced by what’s out in theatres when he comes up with an idea. He referenced some aspect of the recent release ANONYMOUS as being particularly well done, and thought it would work well in his story. I haven’t seen it, and think it’s already gone from theatres, so there’s not much I can do with that.
This happened when we were putting together his previous short. He was concerned his story was too similar to INCEPTION, and feared people would think he was ripping it off. I had to reassure him his script was nothing like it, and just because something was done in a certain way in Nolan’s film, didn’t mean he had to follow the same rules.
Reading over his materials, I noticed a few potential red flags in terms of the story (in this case, the structure of a mystery) and voiced my concern. What did he want to do about this? How did he want to handle that? A few times, he sounded a little caught off-guard (which I’m not faulting him for; I suspect he’s not that experienced in this genre), but said nothing was written in stone and I could make changes where appropriate. I doubt major studios are this lenient with writers, so I’ll take my breaks where I can get them.
There are some traits of a few characters that present a challenge to work with, but he seems pretty set on them, so I’ll do what I can.
My deadline for an outline is Dec 4th, which is fine by me. He also mentioned how he likes how I’m pretty good at fast turnaround. But another hurdle is now how much time to I can allocate to all of my in-development projects (which I get a certain thrill out of saying. That’s projectS. Plural.).
I can get the outline done, but also want to be able spend time on DREAMSHIP and LUCY. Overall, no complaints whatsoever. Every writer should be this busy.