Friday, March 9, 2012

Finding The Magic

Part of the concept of this "How To" site - is to show by example.

So, let me give you a little update on what's going on with my projects.  Hopefully it will give you a window into what this life - what it's really like.

First of all, long time followers of this little blog know that when I'm down to posting once or twice a month - I'm busy.

My primary focus has been for the last year a medium budget feature film (15-25 million) that I'm under contract to write for a Big Hollywood Producer.  The film needs to be shot in the summer, because of its subject matter.  That said, we have been on the hunt to find the best version of this film before we run out of time.  If we don't find it - well, that's just not an option.

Given that, we were meticulous with our plan.  We outlined and discussed and then we outlined some more, over and over and over again.  Each time we found another clue - but it's a rather tricky plot dealing with several storylines that all dovetail together and build.  So, even though the end result should be clear, clean and easy to follow - making it such is anything but.

That said, the BHP read the first draft and we both agreed that while it was a very good execution of our detailed outine - there was no magic.  No spark.  It felt like overworked dough - you know when you're making a pizza and the kids mess with it too long?

In his infinite wisdom, BHP imparted me with his belief in my abilities and turned me loose to write a draft that turned me on.  He gave me the permission to be me.  That's great - right?  Yes!

But here's the downside - when somebody turns it over to you - it's all on you.  But, once again - this moment always comes.  There's always a stage where it's do or die.  Do equals green-lights and cameras rolling, die leads you to the unemployment office.

But that's why you earn the theoretical big bucks - right?  And it's also such an enormous challenge - it makes it fun.  I love a challenge - you've got to be tough, agressive and up to climb the mountain.  Every time.

That said, I now have the task of finding the magic.  And I think I have.

I had to find out what the movie was about. What was the premise I was trying to prove or disprove.  And how were the characters caught up in this premise.  This started to inform my choices of scenes.  Suddenly, I realized that half of what I'd been writing was actually backstory.  So even though they were great scenes - some of my best work - ever - I cut it from the script.  That's right - the big key near the top right.  Deleted.

But, I had discovered so much from the writing of those scenes, that now I knew all about the characters I was writing.  I also knew the things they didn't know about each other and how to play that off the other character.  They were coming to life.  That's the magic.

I'm now trying to keep that magic going as I also try to finish the script in less than a week.  Honestly, I don't know if I'll make my deadline.  And I always make my deadlines - because magic is one thing that you can't rush.    I might be on page 85 and discover that I have to cut the last 20 pages (like I did in the first act), I don't know until I get there.

All I can do is work as hard as I can without kneading the dough too much.  That's up at five or six and sticking with it until well past midnight.  It's knowing when you're writing babble to take a break to do a blog post.  And more importantly it's getting right back on it.  Because it's all or nothing.  And this time it's going to be ALL.

Happy Writing.