30 April 2014

12 in 12: "Standers" Sitting Short

The shortest screenplay I had ever written was my first one, California, at 81 pages.  Not a bad length for what I was hoping to shoot as a super low-budget (i.e., no budget) indie flick.  Throw on a four minute opening credit sequence and a five minute end credit roll and you've 90 minutes, no problem.  Probably wouldn't've even had to do that:  The Final Destination (the fourth one in the series), is 82 minutes long.  And that's with a long opening credits sequence.  You really only get 70 minutes of movie.

I think the sad thing is that people paid money to see it in theaters.
So what's the point I'm getting at?

I finished Standers on Monday night.  I knew it was going to be short, but even I was surprised when I typed FADE OUT. and saw the number in the upper right corner staring back at me:  68.

Seriously:  68 pages.

Two pages short of a Final Destination movie...

Going with the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (that's the Oscars), a film is considered feature-length at 40+ minutes, so I guess it's a feature script.  Although most screenwriting contests list their minimum page count at 80 or 85 pages, so that throws a wrench into the works.

It's kind of like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
but without the other couple.
And less choking.  Well... maybe less choking.
But here's the thing:  I always intended Standers to be something I develop with the two lead actors.  All but maybe 8 pages takes place in one location, so I knew the script -- and the movie -- would basically fall upon the chemistry and abilities of the actors to bring their characters to life.  Really, this script was all about laying the foundation for readers to get the idea of the movie.  It's a jumping off point for the actors and I to improvise and create a believable, relatable relationship between the two characters who will carry the film.

As it is, having written three scripts over the course of the past three months (with one script knocked out before endeavoring into the 12 in 12 challenge), I'm just happy I did finish Standers.  I'm not getting hit with exhaustion just yet, but I am feeling the workload.  I think if I wasn't also trying to do some re-writing on previous scripts while working on a new script things might feel more under control.  Not that things are out of control -- they're just...  Well, there's a lot I'm working on.

Nevertheless, the whole point of being a working writer is to write.  And while, yes, I am writing, I'm not getting paid, so there's that.  Still:  I'm writing and working on a lot of material I probably wouldn't have gotten to for years, so there's that, too.

Heading into May, I at least know that The Education of Tobias Smith will be longer than 68 pages.  In fact, I'm more worried that I'm going to end up an epic of 150 pages.  And that's just as troublesome as having a 68 page script...

Too short, too long; I just can't win.

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