What’s stopping you?

The ultimate DIY project (film division)

I had the recent pleasure of connecting with a screenwriter who’s working on a feature script, but is also investigating the logistics of developing a short out of it, which includes them having begun connecting with other writers and filmmakers in their area.

I thought that was a great idea, and tossed out the suggestion that maybe they try to make it themselves, as in “just you”. Especially now that most smartphones can double as camera equipment, and film editing software is easily accessible (if not already installed on your computer).

They’d considered this, adding “But I’m just not tech-savvy”.

But you can learn.

If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely interested in screenwriting and/or filmmaking. When you first started out, it’s probably a dead-on certainty that your early works were awful, right?  Looking at some of my first scripts makes me cringe from how bad they are.

But we kept at it, learning and improving along the way. How does your most recent effort compare to that first one? Worlds apart, I’d imagine. You try something, you make mistakes, you learn from those mistakes, and try again.

There’s no reason you couldn’t apply the same logic to making your own short. Sure, there’s a lot more to it than simply pointing your phone and hitting ‘record’, but you gotta start somewhere.

Give it a go and write yourself a short script. Nothing fancy (but do try to make it a good sample of the genre). Anywhere from one to five minutes, spread out over one, possibly two scenes. Two characters, three at best. Try to keep it limited to one location.

Now look at it from the filmmaker’s perspective. Could you feasibly make this yourself? Like how a first draft of a script reads, the end result will not be pretty. At first, you’ll be thrilled at having done it. Then reality sets in and the flaws become that much more obvious.

But you will have done it. A short film, written and produced by YOU.

What you do with it now is up to you. Hopefully, you’ll embrace the learning experience and know what not to do the next time around.

My friend mentioned that once the short got made, which it sounds like they are very intent on making happen one way or another, plans are already being discussed about next steps, which included posting it on YouTube and/or submitting it to some film festivals.

Even though our conversation was solely via email, there was a certain tone to their words that indicated they were quite psyched about jumping into this new venture. I wished them the best of luck and asked to be kept updated as to their progress.

I think they’re off to a pretty good start.

Stop thinking and write!

proof that a script is like a blueprint; everything has to fit perfectly

A very interesting thing happened during the first scene of the rewrite of the second half of DREAMSHIP.  I got about halfway through when I realized my hero was just sitting there, doing nothing.  And that ain’t right!  He’s supposed to be the one driving the action, pushing the story ahead.  Fortunately, it’s easily fixed.  But it got me thinking.

Since finishing the first half rewrite, I’m more careful going into each scene.  You could even call it overthinking. Does this scene advance the story, theme and character? (A cardinal but often-ignored rule for screenwriting)  Does it follow the one before it and lead to the one after it?  If I take it out, will it impact the rest of the story?  I also realize taking the time to analyze each scene with such intense scrutiny will slow me down.  The feeling of getting stuff done will vanish.

In some ways, just storming ahead seems like a great way to go.  But then there’s the whole issue of going back and fixing things.  But if I apply the proverbial fine-tooth comb, then it won’t be fun.  And will take longer than I’d like.

I think rather than move ahead on pages, I’ll go through the outline and edit accordingly, thereby saving valuable time during the page-writing period as well as trimming some fat from the story.

-I’ve read some of the scripts from the 2011 Black List. So far, not too impressive.  I liked the 2010 selections much better.

-Movie of the Moment – 9 (2009). A really interesting animated film that came and went from theaters pretty quickly.  I can see why.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world, a band of foot-high dolls struggles to survive.  This is probably not the best way to describe it, but it’s all I can think of.

While the story is a little unusual, I thought it was a great take on the genre.  Really clever use of the animation and each doll had a distinct personality and appearance that made it easy to distinguish one from another.

My only complaints:  a slightly confusing resolution to the main conflict, and a lot of back-and-forth in terms of moving the story forward.  I think the main character said “We have to go  back!” at least twice.  It’s never explained how the dolls function, but in the end doesn’t really matter.

I didn’t realize this was based on a ten-minute short, which was included on the DVD, but I didn’t get a chance to watch it.  Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov were among the producers, and it’s easy to see the influence of each.

Look out! It’s the iBorg!

So THAT'S what happened to Steve Jobs...

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are currently a one-computer family.  Unfortunately, it’s my 6-year-old IBM laptop, which has become very tempermental in the past few months.  My eyes roll and I swear under my breath every time “(Not Responding)” appears at the top of my screen.

But this week that’s going to change.  After years of being a PC, I’m making the switch to a Mac. I have no idea what to expect, but it’ll definitely be interesting. I’ll have to contact the fine folks at Movie Magic Screenwriter to find out if I have to buy a new version or if I can switch over. I’ve used MMS since way back, when it was originally called Script Thing.

This will be the third Apple product in my possession. I already have an iPod and an iPhone. No doubt an iPad is somewhere in the future as well; it looks like the perfect venue for checking out a script without lugging a laptop around. It would probably just be easier to have an Apple logo tattooed somewhere scandalous and install an earbud jack and USB port somewhere easily accessible.

A benefit of having one computer is that while K uses the laptop for her purposes, it forces me to work with pen and paper.  Since I’d rather use my computer time to write pages anyway, I’m using my spare time to work on editing my LUCY outline.  It’s been more helpful than I expected.

Yesterday involved cutting out a big chunk of the first act – almost 9 scenes. While I hated to do it, it had to be done.  But it tightened the story, sped things up and kept the action going.  Besides, I can re-use some of the cut items later if necessary.

-I started reading an assigned script from TriggerStreet. I’m only on page 7, and so far, I’m not impressed.  Only 115 pages to go. Oy. This ain’t gonna be easy.