Friday, December 10, 2004

On Collaborating

Call me Vichy but collaborating is cool.

I had my first conversation with the director this morning (my first ever with any director). He called mainly to say hello and introduce himself -- then mentioned a few brief ideas about what areas he'd like to focus on during the next rewrite. I'll get the extended version of those notes on Monday morning or so.

He seems very excited about the project and quite energetic -- which spills back over to me and I'm already excited about it.

Over the past year and a half or so I've found myself increasingly perferring the screenwriting format to the prose format. I had made a few, frankly, non-tries at screenwiritng several years ago; basically firing up an old version of Final Draft (screenwriting software) then looking at the page and not having any idea of what to do with it. However, last year when I had a story idea, outline, and started writing -- after a bit of research on how to write a screenplay -- I found it went quite smoothly. Moreover, I liked the structure of the screenplay itself: sparse prosy bits, a focus on action, and having some fun with dialogue. I'm not particularly one for flourishing descriptive passages or playing with language and screenplays fit that model well. Also, I really like to imagine and describe action scenes -- that's where I do get a bit detailed. But I suspect action plays poorly on the page and in novels, whereas it plays exceedingly well on the screen.

So one aspect of screenwriting I like is the core process itself. However, there's an added benefit once you get a chance to talk with others about actually making the thing. Writing itself is a solitary activity and you normally don't get much in the way of feedback until your monster is published. Screenwriting, though, grows into this group project where a bunch of people all have their own ideas about what way things should go -- and so you get a lot of discussion and a chance to talk with others. For me the balance works well, since I'm sort of solitary and sort of social.

I know that some screenwriters get frustrated at the lack of control over the final film. And, yes, there's a distinct lack of screenwriter control over the final film -- sometimes others will have ideas you don't agree with regarding a scene or bit of dialogue. However, I suspect producers, directors, actors, editors, foley artists, and a slew of other people also feel frustrated about their lack of control over the film -- and that's because in a group project it's pretty much tautological that you're not going to get total control of the film.

Also, when the producers, directors, and so on come on board and start wanting their ideas added to the mix this is because they are excited about your project. A fun idea inspires a bunch more fun ideas -- think of the last film you really enjoyed and how many ways you could see to expand bits of it or explore different directions. And, yes, they're also adding in their bits because you've made some mistakes. I've written quite a bit with little to no editorial oversight so it's rather pleasant to finally have a thorough error-checking process in place -- and, of course, as a team we'll still make mistakes.

Sooner or later some actors will come on board and I'm particularly interested to find out their perspective. The producers, director, and myself all look at the movie as a whole -- but the actors will look at it primarily from the perspective of their one character. Since, essentially, I'm thinking for every character, having some people who can make their entire work about just one of the characters should add some valuable new perspectives.

1 comment:

Baron Leucauge said...

I know what you're doing, Peterson -- and I'm not sure I'm pleased...