Today’s topic: your very first script.
Yeah, that one. The one you’re embarrassed to even remember. The one with all the rookie mistakes.
The one that set you on this journey.
Title: THE CRIMSON CLOAK
What it was about: Set in 1950’s Hollywood, a writer on a popular kids TV show mistakenly believes the sponsor is going to kill a megastar live on the air and goes all out to stop him.
Tell-tale signs this is a first script? Way, way too much expository dialogue, including a lot of on-the-nose lines. Flimsy character motivation. A lot of writing-directing.
Would you be willing to rewrite it now? Definitely.
Addendum: Despite all of the problems this script had, it managed to be a top 10 percent finisher in the Nicholl for that year. I have no idea how that happened, but this, combined with a professional writer telling me “You’re a very talented writer,” were a great start to my writing career.
What about you? Don’t be shy. No judging here.
4 thoughts on “We all had to start somewhere”
My first screenplay was for a class at community college. It’s called The Ugly Life, based on my friends and most people who read it were astonished to learn the substance use depicted wasn’t exaggerated. It’s Judd Apatow movie with fun, three dimensional women characters. Needs some joke punch up I think.
Damn, that’s incredible. I wrote my first script at 19. It was a dark comedy called SKINNING TEETH that wanted to be a mash-up of a Coen Bros movie, OFFICE SPACE, and FIGHT CLUB. It was ridiculously bad and would be unlikely to make the top 90% of Nicholl.
I then spent two and a half years thinking I was going to direct that thing, so I just rewrote and rewrote it. It never got much better. All of that rewriting was a pretty big waste of time, but it seems like a lot of new writers — especially young ones — will spend years on a single project. Probably because at such a young age, it’s even harder to be objective and know when something’s just not going to work.
Definitely, and when you’re fresh out of school (or still IN school, for that matter), you think you’ve got all the time in the world to keep going back and working on it.
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