When I was in college -- which actually wasn't that long ago (just 4 months) -- my professor for Advanced Screenwriting had students publicly (in the class) state what their goal was for the course. In advanced screenwriting, you had a few choices for what you could work on, but as far as I remember, everyone chose to write a feature-length screenplay over the 15 week course (oh, what luxury). So we'd each take a piece of paper and hand write something to the effect of, "I, Zach Jansen, will write a feature-length rough draft screenplay for Advanced Screenwriting," and then sign it and read it aloud.
The point of it, of course, was to give you incentive to complete your script. It was basically working on our innate psychology of fear and not wanting to be embarrassed. If you didn't finish the script, you've got about 15 or so people who know it. You have a slip of paper that mocks you. But that's the negative point of view; conversely, it does get a fire roaring behind you, almost compelling you to finish the script. A "your success is everyone's success" kind of thing.
I took the class twice -- I didn't fail the first time, just needed to fill some credits, so it made sense to me to take it again -- and wrote two feature scripts. The first was called What Happened to Christine, a murder mystery thriller inspired by a true incident that happened near Eau Claire, Wisconsin, about a decade ago. I was working at WQOW, the ABC affiliate, when the story first broke, and when the details of the case began to unfold I knew there was a movie there. But I didn't know exactly what the movie would be.
So, come the spring of 2011, I took Advanced Screenwriting (for the first time) and decided to use the class to finally write the script. It was either that or this NASA using a movie director to fake the moon landing idea I had; but it turns out I wasn't the only one who wanted to write that script*, which pushed me even more to write Christine. Plus, by that time, I'd been working the story over in my head for six or seven years: I knew the characters, I knew the themes I wanted to explore, I knew the structure that seemed most apt -- really, all I had to do was write it.
So I did. And What Happened to Christine became my second feature-length screenplay.
Then two years later it was optioned by an independent producer who's planning to go into production with it later this year. I can probably give much of the credit for the script's journey to that piece of paper I wrote my goal on at the beginning of Advanced Screenwriting.
When I took the class the second time (in spring 2013), I was set on writing another script that had been rolling about in my brain for a few years. I'd say at least five years because I remember sitting down with some research info in my current house, which we moved to in 2008. But how ever long it was, I knew I wanted to get the script written. It was based upon the Loveland Frog, a cryptid that supposedly lives in the Little Miami River in southeastern Ohio. And the title came from a "Weird Al" Yankovic song: The Incredible Frog Is On the Loose Again! And in the class, we wrote our goal down and proclaimed it out loud.
Frog Boy ended up being my sixth feature-length script.
Okay now: The point.
With every script I've written since What Happened to Christine, I've made sure to put ink to paper and wrote my goal of completing the script. Between Christine and Frog Boy I did it halfheartedly, but after Frog Boy I was sold on the powerful simplicity of getting the endgame out of my head and somewhere out in the open. And since this whole 12 in 12 challenge is about getting scripts written, I publicly declared (on the Internet) and have written that I'm going to write 12 scripts in 12 months.
But that's a vague, broad statement that has a hollow ring to me. So I'm going to make sure to list all the screenplays I intend to write (minus the one I've finished already). I'm not exactly sure on how to roll it out, but I've got a few ideas. Thus, I'm not going to mention them here now (hence the "Part I" in the post's title), but you can expect to get the info in the next few days, in one fashion or another.
Basically, this is just a ploy, a stunt to get more traffic on my blog. I tease you here and you're more tempted to come back later. Although I'm pretty sure there are only, maybe, 10 regular readers -- of which my wife is probably not one, so I know I have to up my game -- so anything that can be done to draw in another three or four isn't below my self-promotional means.
And hey, thanks to everyone who does come here often and also to those just coming for the first time. Please come back.
* - I did write the fake moon landing script concurrently with Christine for the Movie Poet feature contest and I've read a couple similar scripts. One was fantastic and clever. Another was eh. I thought the one that made 2013's Black List was so so. But whatever the case, my script, How We Really Won the Space Race, was optioned earlier this year, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what the filmmakers do with it.