Tuesday, April 18

It's not easy being green

I mean that every project reveals something you thought you'd learned but have to learn again. Okay, so I'm new. When you've rewritten a screenplay at least a dozen times, you've answered all the questions about characters. You see them pointed at the inevitable conclusion. So when the second or the tenth idea for the scene - you know dead-on how characters behave.

The new screenplay, despite your preparation, planning, and outlining stumps you. The guy behaves like that, sure. So what? The guy (i.e., gal) isn't funny or anything like a man (ibid.) worthy of drama. But he was interesting when you started. You're stomach does one of those empty-bottom rolls, though you just vacuumed ounces of Smartfood. Whatever you thought you were doing, you don't get it. What was that interesting thing? You dig it out from under the dialogue.

Then again, the experience of other projects you finished tells you, yes, you're right. The guy needs to know more about his world, his fears, what binds him to others, and what is driving him away from them. You see the flaws sooner. There. You learned something after all. Something on the order of, "Yes, that is a longbow arrow sticking through my chest. Hmm? Break it or drive it through?"

You don't want to spend months rewriting a story that you could have planned beforehand. You also don't want to pretend that writing long briefs about characters is going to answer all the questions that will come up in writing. You want to be efficient. And you don't want to plan the life out of characters because experience shows that what you think they'll do when you're sketching is nothing compared to what they'll do when you write the scene. And there goes the damn plan.

As I have said elsewhere, "The trouble with being an autodidact is that you're learning from someone who doesn't know anything."

And these are the reasons - or the tail-chasing from which - I haven't posted in a while.

Let me get back to work.

Coming...Reviews and inside poop from the Independent Film Festival of Boston, which starts Wednesday (4/19).