28 May 2014

12 in 12: When 25% Is Passing

To those just joining this blog, I'd like to say thanks, really appreciate your patronage.  And I should also explain the impetus for the dramatic increase in posts this year (this one's the 13th of May -- one-upping the total of 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 combined).

Fortunately, the math I'll use is not as complicated.
It's complicated, to be sure, but not as.
In February, I was finishing up a script called Bake Sale, an R-rated comedy that I had note-carded years ago but finally got around to writing.  Not having school and homework to worry about helped open up my schedule to write.  And my sons had reached an age where constant supervision wasn't an absolute necessary (they're 4 and 3, so yeah, they need Mom and Dad still, but at least there's no more diaper changing to be concerned with).  Anyhow, the point is, now that I was no longer a student but an actual screenwriting degree holding person, I felt I should get to writing screenplays full-time -- Bake Sale is the seventh feature I've written, so it's not like I was slacking or anything before then.

So after taking January to get the school smell off, I started Bake Sale and completed it in about 3 weeks.  And to be honest, I tend to write quickly.  The prep work might take a while -- years in some cases... -- but when I actually sit down to write the screenplay, I can usually knock it out in 3-5 weeks.  I was in the long stretch of writing the third act (which is always a bitch for me, especially when the first 2/3 to 3/4 of the script just dances from my fingertips), a colleague on a screenwriting website mentioned he was going to challenge himself to write a feature screenplay every month for a year.

Now, the previous year (non-calendar, that is), he made 12 short films every month.  And he blogged his journey over on How to Kill Yourself in One Year.  If you're at all interested in what goes into making a film, I recommend going through his past posts -- plus, he's also blogging his process for this year, so you should make sure to see what he's doing with writing his scripts.

So when I saw what he was planning, I decided -- rather impetuously
Pen to paper:  To be a writer is to write.
I soon realized -- to join him and do what I've seen many "screenwriters" not do:  Write scripts.  I mean, I don't necessarily have a back-up plan.  I'm going screenwriting or bust, really; so how else to prove myself a capable writer other than to write and write and write and write and...  And so on.  Thus, for me, the 12 in 12 challenge was born.

I initially wanted to include Bake Sale with the challenge since I had written it in under a month.  But my fellow writer was starting in March and since the best camaraderie begins with solidarity, I, too, would start fresh on the first day of what used to be the first month of the year.  Kind of serendipitous if you think about it.

Well, maybe not, but it's something that's definitely not ironic in any way.

The first script, which I didn't really talk about, was one I'd been thinking about for about 3 years.  I had had a few false starts on it over that time, but I figured with a deadline I'd have to get it done.

Idyllic pastures hide horrific secrets.
Or not, who knows these days where evil lies?
And I did.  And I really like the script (entitled Enumclaw).  I'm finishing up a rewrite on it -- as I continue with writing new material -- and getting ready to send out queries to see if there might be any bites on it.  I think I might have some chance because the main character is a woman in mid-30s to mid-40s (a tragically under-represented cinematic demographic).  That may seem conniving or cynical, but you've got to know the business if you want to be in show business.  Nevertheless, 12 in 12 started strong and filled me with what I've been told is called optimism.  I've felt it before, but it's been a while, especially when in connection with my work.

Idyllic woods hide horrific secrets.
Or not, who knows these days where evil lies?
The second script, Standers, was another I'd been rolling over in my head for while -- maybe a year?  I thought it was a pretty solid two characters in one location thriller.  Then about 25 pages in I realized that what I thought would be a cheap no-budget feature indie film might not have the legs to get to feature length (which I say needs at least 80-85 pages).  It ended up at 68 pages.  But since I'd intended to shoot the script myself with reliance on the actors improvising and creating organic characters of their own, I at least had the blueprint to get that part of the project started.  So an F for script execution, but an A for intent.

And now I'm days away (probably finish it tonight) from completing the first draft of The Education of Tobias Smith.  I don't know if it's just coming off the low I had with Standers or the actual content -- i.e., story, characters, themes, etc. -- of the script itself, but I'm absolutely enamored with it.  I think I've written something interesting and entertaining and exciting and, ultimately, unmakable in Hollywood.  Seriously, the probability of me selling the script is in a direct inverse proportion to my enthusiasm for it. 

Idyllic frontiers hide horrific secrets.
And they do, at least, in The Education of Tobias Smith.
But there are non-horrific secrets, too.  Life, right?
I say that because there's a lot of grey areas and characters in the story.  No one in it is absolutely bad, no one absolutely good.  Ethics and morality are fuzzy and unexpected.  If I were to be honest with myself, I'd do better with the script if I adapted it into a novel -- which is always a great avenue to explore non-absolutes within characters and stories.  It's definitely something I'll have to consider, but as it is, The Education of Tobias Smith -- my milestone 10th feature screenplay -- just might be one of the best things I've written.  At the very least, it's my favorite script of all that I've written.  Which, of course, means everyone else will be struggling to find some positivity in it.

So here I am, a quarter of the way through this endeavor and with three more scripts in hand than I ever expected to have written at this point in the year.  I figured I'd just be re-writing Bake Sale or The Incredible Frog Boy Is On the Loose Again! through the summer.  Instead, I'm preparing to move ahead with Greyhound 1170.  I'm still trying to crack the story on that one, but I've got scenes in mind and a good idea of who the main characters are, so just a few days of more figuring and I'll be good to start scripting by the first weekend of June.  

Which is right on schedule.

And I think that brings us up to speed.  

As a finishing aside:  If anyone's interested in reading any of the 12 in 12 scripts -- or any of my other scripts for that matter -- just get a hold of me whichever way you like and I'll get back to you ASAP with whatever script (or scripts) piques your interested.

No comments:

Post a Comment