Screenwriting is something that I’ve been interested in for a couple years now, and it’s been really exciting to write with everybody else also giving input and words. My most favorite part of screenwriting is definitely writing the dialogue. Dialogue comes naturally to me and I find it relatively easy to get into the flow of what the characters are saying and what the thought process is behind their words.
Movie-scripts actually aren’t that different from stage-scripts. They are both written in the present tense (books are almost always written in the past tense), and they are both separated into two different sections: action, and dialogue.
In stage-plays, the emphases is placed heavily upon the dialogue, the action being delegated to tiny columns along the sides of the script while the dialogue has plenty of elbow room across the entire page.
Screenplays are the opposite. The action has full width and breath while the dialogue is placed in narrow column in the center of the page. This shows the importance that films place on showing what is happening with pictures, rather than the characters talking about it to inform the audience what is happening.
This format of writing, as you may guess, is extremely difficult to implement using a regular writing program. Not to worry! There are several programs that are out there for the sole purpose of screenwriting. The problem? Most of the good ones (you know, the ones that actually work) are extremely expensive. Like, hundreds of dollars expensive. Luckily for us, there’s a really nice one that is free! It’s called Celtx. Celtx is nice because it can handle more that one screenplay within a project, meaning that we could have several different drafts of the same project all linked together in one place.
The first step in writing the script for our movie was making sure we all had a version of Celtx. I think Rachel and I were the only ones who didn’t. Rachel had just gotten a new computer and I inherited her old one, neither of which had Celtx on them. That was soon remedied and we were all set to go.
We went through several phases while talking and thinking through the story for our movie. The original concept was Max’s, inspired when he first saw the location. Everybody really liked his idea, and started talking about ways to fill it out, make it better, and add their own ideas.
It wasn’t until the next time we talked together that we started to discover some of the major problems we would encounter.
One of the biggest problems is the scale of the film we want to make does not match the size of our cast. While neither of our families have ever worked with this many people before, we started to realize that we still didn’t have enough. 2-3 good guys, 2 baddies, and lots of faceless minions is a little too much for 7 people to pull off.
Another big problem is the time constraint. Our vision was a 5-10 min film, but every time we sat down and talked, our ideas would just keep getting longer and more elaborate as we tried to give depth to the characters and motivation to the story. We’d toss ideas back and forth, each saying what they thought was the most important stuff, trying to decide what we could cut out. Sometimes we would veer completely off course, just tossing out random ideas, grasping for something good. We’d always come back to the original idea, but then it just felt like we were going in circles, not accomplishing anything with all our talking.
The third big problem was a story gimmick (that I’m not allowed to reveal) that we all really, really, wanted to keep, but it kept causing problems. We tried to reorder the events, but that just made everything too confusing. We knew where we wanted it. We knew how we wanted it, but couldn’t wrangle the rest of the story to fit around it in a complete, but non-time-consuming way.
Several of us wrote draft scripts, giving more detail to how we thought the story could work. Some of it was pretty good. For myself, I was never happy with any of them.
At this point, it had been 3-4 weeks of chasing our ideas around in circles trying to pinpoint the things we liked and the things that didn’t work. It seemed like no matter how far away we roamed, eventually we would always come back to the basic plot that we started with.
Finally, we had a breakthrough.
Micah stepped forward with an alternate plotline that seemed to magically deal with all our problems. It only differed slightly from Max’s original concept but it gave a different motivation behind our characters’ actions. It allowed us to explain things more plainly to the audience, while keeping within the time limit, and allowing our story gimmick to sit in a good and right place.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for a complete draft to be whipped up. Max spat one out and sent it over to us to take a look at.
Now, a draft is… just that. A draft. It’s not perfect by any means. The first thing I do with a draft is to dance with excitement. Finally! Something whole and tangible that we can set on the table to work on! The next second, I’m hacking it to pieces looking for everything that is wrong with it. (In a loving way, of course.) 😉
After we took a look at Max’s draft, we all talked about it via a Google+ Hangout. Josiah then made some edits and sent it back to Max. Max made some more edits and sent it back to us.
And that is where we are currently in the development of the script. Right now it’s waiting for Lizzy and I to go over it and add our edits. This process of going back and forth, editing and changing, will continue until we get as close as we can to perfection.
Writing this script has been a lot different than every other script I written (or attempted to write). Not just because of all the people involved, but also because the style is very different as well. I tend to write about plots and characters rather than shoot-em-up-action-films like this one. A lot of the story is still rather vague with such lines as ‘They fight for a while’ or ‘They somehow get from here to there’. These types of things will be plotted out later. The fighting will have to be choreographed, which is not really something you want to write out in a script, and the other stuff will be worked out as we are shooting the film where it will be easy to integrate our location into what is happening.
Well, that’s it for updates on the script and my very first blogpost (Yay!). Thanks for reading.