And It’s Back to the Drawing Board

Well, after some time off, Rick and I took a really critical look at the outline, and we realized something.  Something big.  Like, it’s not anything what we really imagined it might be when we first started out.

We envisioned a dramedy in the veins of “Juno” or “Little Miss Sunshine,” and it turned into this sort of dark drama that was 180 degrees from the original mission.  The protagonist lacked a character arc and the plotline was sort of flat.  I was of the mind to just trash the whole thing and start on an entirely new project.

I’m sure most of you who have written features have found yourselves in this exact same spot.  You thought you had a great idea or concept, but you found out that you couldn’t really build a story around it.  So you have to make a gutsy call:  Do you drop the project entirely and start on a new idea that has more legs, or do you try to perform emergency triage on the existing project and bring it back to life (realizing that you might be halfway through the triage and still need to declare the patient dead).

I was in the camp of throwing a grenade into the script and just putting it out of its misery.  Rick, to his credit, tried to disarm me and help me see my way back from the abyss.  We decided we would take the weekend to see where our thoughts might lead us.

Here was where I landed:  The original idea was to have a script set essentially in one location, first, for budgeting reasons, and two, to allow the film to be shot quickly (also factoring in to budgeting).  I wanted to go Richard Linklater “Slacker” and just get a minimalist movie made.

Why would we want to do that?  Well, unless you’re a big-time scriptwriter, you’re not going to get a big budget film made.  Your script’s not even going to be looked at by a production company.  Even small to mid-level budget films are getting harder to make unless you already have a foot in the door.  Indie films are typically the best option for an up and coming writer, but you have to be realistic in your expectations.  It has to have a compelling story (to attract talent and financing), it has to be easy to make, and it needs to be right financially.

So, that’s a long way of saying, we have to go back to the drawing board on the outline.  I think the original idea and setting was a good one, but we need to find the heart and humor in this storyline.  Tomorrow, we’ll bring in the demolition experts in to blow everything up and start again.

Hang in there with us!

We’ve Finished the Outline!

Thank God! We finally got around the cranking out the last few beats of the outline.  It’s changed a half-dozen times since we last reported on it and it runs on for a bit. It’s still not as long as some outlines are, as we don’t beat out every single scene of the script.  We figure we can fill in the gaps as needed as we write around the highlights of what is in the outline.  And as I’ve mentioned, Rick and I are never bound to the outline we start with.  One thing we don’t want to do is write ourselves into a corner.  Flexibility is key when it comes to writing that first draft of your script (and second and third drafts as well).

So what’s next?  Well, first of all, a couple of days off!  No thinking about writing for a day.  Just enjoy some time catching up on binge-worthy TV shows, spending time with family, or whatever else might arise.

Then we begin the process of writing.  As we write, we’re going to post the script, as rough as it might be, here.  We’ll post the differing versions on a regular basis (so you might see version 1.1, 1.2, etc.) so you can see where changes might have been made as we go back and edit the script.  It’ll give you a good idea of what our writing process is, and how we go back and edit as we write.

Some writers like to do a “garbage draft”, where they just write without really thinking about what’s on the page. The idea is just to get through the entire draft, and then come back later and clean it all up, make corrections, and so on.  Rick and I operate a little differently.  What typically happens is that I might write a page or two, then I’ll send it to Rick, and he’ll review it, edit it with his changes, and then he’ll write another couple of pages, and send it back to me.  I’ll do the same to his portion, edit, then write some more. Wash, rinse, repeat.  We’ll keep up that process, and usually, if we stay on that pattern, we’ll have the finished script done sometime between 45 to 60 days, sometimes longer if we run into situations where we have to take some time off.  For example, we’re starting this script just as end of the year holidays are approaching, so we might take a whole week off from working on the script to enjoy Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I think our goal is to finish by the end of the year, but if we don’t, it’s not the end of the world.

I’ll try to update the outline on this site, but I’ll need to break it down into two or three posts because of the length.  Anyway, time to celebrate!