17 April 2014

The May Script

In deciding what to write for this 12 in 12 endeavor, I've found myself going to ideas I had years ago and have accumulated a bunch of notes and research for.  It makes the whole prepping period a lot easier since I'm not starting from scratch.  And I'm finally writing these stories and they don't have to live and fester in my head anymore.  Getting them on paper -- yes, I print a hard copy of each script because there's a certain magic in holding a stack of pages you've created -- means I don't have to wonder about how they'll turn out.  The stories are real, tangible.  Sure, they're gonna need some rewriting and revisions, but the hard part -- actually writing them -- is done.

The script I'm diving into for May is a script that, as far as I can tell from my notes and print-outs, I've been rolling about in my head for about four years now.  I don't know where the initial idea came from -- I'd guess from constantly clicking the Random Article link on Wikipedia -- but I have the plot worked out and I feel like I already know the characters.

So here's the title page:

Sometimes a caption is unnecessary.


Pretty, huh?
The Education of Tobias Smith is something of a non-Western Western.  It takes place in a Western setting -- pre-statehood and per-railroad Julesburg, Colorado (late 1860s to be exact) -- but there won't be much in terms of the typical Western tropes:  No shoot-outs, no showdowns, no white hats and black hats.  There will be lawlessness, though.  And that's pertinent to the story, which is why I'm setting it in the "Old West."  There's a fatalism to the story that can only be explored in a place that lacks authoritative order.  The concepts of free will and autonomy have to be believed by the characters to exist, but in reality the end of the story was decided right in the opening scene(s).  At least that's my intention.

As for the vague, first draft logline:  A young, straight-laced Easterner tries to make a fresh start in the burgeoning Western frontier, but when he falls for a local prostitute, he learns that a fresh start could lead to sudden end.

Or something like that.  It should improve after I write the script and get a stronger feel for the story and its themes. 

I'm really looking forward to writing this script, especially since it's following the struggle I'm having with Standers.  I feel, with Standers, that I've maybe taken a short script idea and tried to stretch it over a feature film.  At the same time, I write a really good scene in Standers and think I'm going in the right direction.  Well, with whatever I'm dealing with I should have the script done by the end of the weekend -- much sooner than scheduled and expected.  In the end, I'm still hoping that I can cast a pair of good actors to help mold Standers into a more interesting story that can be produced independently and inexpensively.

Yeah, this sign won't be in the script.
Or the highway either, I suppose.
Moving on, however, The Education of Tobias Smith is next in line.  I've never written any kind of a period piece before*, so that's going to be interesting to do.  Sure, it's really only establishing the world of the story like I'd do with any other script but there are details that'll be needed to give a reader an assurance that I, as the writer, know what I'm doing and talking about.  In a period piece (and sci-fi and fantasy) it's necessary to not only know the story and characters, but to remember to use the period setting to give the story bits of flavor:  It can be the dialogue/language, a detail about wardrobe or furniture, building layouts, etc.

Basically it's like this:  You open a script and it says INT. HOUSE -- DAY, you're probably going to picture the house your live in or the one you grew up in.  But if the script says INT. HOUSE -- DAY -- 1870, you've got an idea of what to picture, but it's going to be the descriptive/action paragraph that'll sell the location and make you feel comfortable where exactly you should be picturing the action.  Then again, for most folks, a house is a house is a house, so maybe I'm overthinking it...

Anyhow, we'll see how things work on once I start scripting.

Ending on a reminder:  I'm still lining up the subsequent scripts I'll be writing for the 12 in 12, so there'll be more posts like this in the coming days.  It's all about getting the plan on paper (or in cyberspace) and keeping to it.  So now I'm committed to The Education of Tobias Smith.  Should be fun.

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* While How We Really Won the Space Race does take place in the 1960s, there really wasn't much to include in terms of establishing the time period.

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