Friday, December 17, 2010

Writing In The Dark.

I've been working on the Derelict script the last two nights, till 2 and 3am. I wrote 23 pages the first night, and 28 the second. 51 pages in. I decided to start from scratch. I started to write a draft a couple of months ago, wrote about the same, 50 pages. But I just wasn't happy with it. I didn't feel the characters were there and the structure was lying a little flat. So I left it for a while and just thought about it, made some notes, thought about it some more.

On Wednesday night (15th) I opened a new tab to write down a new beginning of a visual idea I had for the opening. It worked really nicely and added a new tone. It also propelled me further. 23 pages and several hours later I stood up from my desk, stretched, cracked, groaned and felt pretty happy with a good night's work and the new direction the script was taking.

Last night I type THE END on page 51. Very short feature script you might say. But that's OK. I skipped passed scenes I knew needed more time. Tagged them for later revision. I got the main structure and sequences I was clear on out of the way. The final page count will be in the region of 70/75 pages, still a short feature screenplay. But I know the story is there. I have a clear vision of what I want to make. And I have a sense that with workshops and rehearsal with the actors over the next few months we'll be able to grow their relationships and these scenes.

It's shaping into a tight, tense and quite violent piece, perhaps a little more violent than I had first envisaged. But I'm enjoying writing it. It has a tone of anger and frustration about it, which is reflective of present times. It's a film about trying to escape but realising escape is impossible and the tension, anxiety and frustration that brings. These men have already arrived in hell, they just don't know it.

Like so much of Film Noir it presents a hopeless situation, with characters plagued by misfortune, a shady past and no hope for the future, regardless of how they try to better themselves. Of course there betterment usually involves a crime of sorts, something seemingly simple that goes so complete wrong. (Am I ruining the ending here?!)

I've wanted to do something like this since I decided to start writing screenplays over ten years ago. The first two feature scripts I tried to write (started, but never finished) were crime thrillers. Then I read Story by Robert McKee, and Screenplay by Syd Field, they gave me some grounding and focused my mind. I then wrote Blood.Dirt.Money, which wasn't very good, but had some nice moments and, more to the point, was the first fully finished feature script I ever wrote. It too was a crime thriller, about an American man who inherits a fortune, comes to Ireland with his girlfriend, who is duly kidnapped and held to ransom (I guess not entirely a million miles away from Derelict - kidnapping - money etc.) - but seriously, who inherits a fortune and comes to Ireland?!

I moved away from crime to explore adventure, fantasy and family drama - all of which I enjoy. But I keep coming back to crime and Noir. Thomas Kennedy and I wrote Iscariot of course, part-time over two years, which is very much inspired by and drawn from Hollywood Noir of the 40s and 50s. It's funny, I remember a readers note we got when we went looking for funding initially that criticized the character development and especially the female character for being "just like a femme fatale from 1940's Hollywod Noir..." Top marks there! The completely missed the point and criticized us for doing exactly what we intended!

(Mind you, these are the same people who criticized Puca, a children's story about a 12 year-old boy and his imaginary friend, for being aimed at children. And criticized Nevermore for being too literal, offering that it should be a novel, because it was largely descriptive without much dialogue. I was going for visual... it being cinema and all that. I do spend a lot of time scratching my head with these reports!)

But I digress, Iscariot was indeed film noir and while that percolates I wanted to explore the genre some more, hence Derelict. Iscariot is much bigger, so I thought something smaller, low-budget, one location, manageable would be a good place to put this desire to make a crime thriller into practice.

I still have some work to do before I put the script into people's hands. And I suspect it will continue to evolve, especially during shooting, given the nature of the shoot itself.

Once this draft is done and out I'll take a break for Christmas and the new year and then come January, it's full tilt into shooting. So my blogs and updates should come more regularly - provided everything goes according to plan, which of course it never does!

24 hours left on the Kickstarter fund! Of the $6,750 goal I managed to raise... drum roll - $359.00 :( Not very good! But that's OK, there's 24 hours to go, I'm sure someone out there has $6,391 they don't know what to do with and will pledge it in the very last minutes! Unlikely... but possible! It doesn't stop plans. This fund was a shot in the dark, a plus if it happened, would have made life a lot easier, but now I just have to hustle some more, come with the territory. No point in getting downhearted about it. If I was the kind of person who worried about money I wouldn't be making films!

OK, better get back to it, I'm using up all my words here, they're needed elsewhere! More soon.

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