For me, collaboration is the most exciting thing about film making. One persons ideas can be good but one persons ideas can also be limited.
Writing can be a solitary art.
For a lot of it you’re alone, staring at a computer screen, putting the ‘inspired’ thoughts you’ve had onto virtual paper. It’s incredibly easy to become possessive over your ideas, it’s easy to get lost within the idea. As the writer, you know what you’re trying to communicate to an audience, you know the purpose of this scene, you know the effect that it’s supposed to have and therefore, sometimes, things aren’t explained enough. Or they’re explained too much. You have to trust your audience to pick up on the ideas and concepts you’re laying down but you have to give them just enough to work it out for themselves. This is one of the hardest parts of writing.
Once you reach the later drafts and you’re really fine tuning your idea, you can loose sight of what you’re communicating effectively and what you aren’t. You get bogged down in this world you’re creating and you need to get someone else’s perspective on what is working and what isn’t. What needs to be added to, and what needs to be taken away.
For the past couple of months I’ve been constantly writing new material. A film that should have been between 15-20 pages had now become bloated at 24. I was trying to flesh out the world, build it into something more than a 2-dimensional film setting and add subtext so that people feel something about what’s happening. So what gets the cut? This is where collaboration comes in.
For the first time, my producer and I were able to sit down, face to face, and really work on the latest draft. We were brutal. Cutting full sequences, squashing things together and speaking at length about what we felt wasn’t working. I started to realise which of my ideas weren’t being communicated properly, the things in my head that weren’t down there on the paper. He asked me what the film was about at it’s core, my intention behind specific scenes and the motivation of supporting characters. I had the answers. I’ve been building this idea and this world in my head for months. The answers just weren’t in the script. Writing and writing and writing has it’s uses but after a while you just have to put the pen down and talk about your idea. In your head you know what you want to do but it’s when you really start to talk about it that you realise what you actually want to do, and if that’s what’s coming across or not.
Draft 7 will always stick in my mind as the draft that took the film to the next level. It isn’t perfect, it needs a lot of work but it feels like this is the form that the film will take. I believe I will look back at draft 7 as the draft that pushed this film from good to great. If indeed it is great.
Collaboration has given me perspective. Collaboration has inspired me. Collaboration will make this film better. After four drafts in three days, I’m taking time away from the script. I find myself in two moods. I feel the script has improved, I feel it’s good, I’m excited about it. Yet, at the same time I’m frustrated there are aspects of it that aren’t working in the way I want them to. This is a good mind set to be in. Knowing you’ve got something good, but knowing that it can be better.
I’m going to do some reading and research and come back with some (hopefully) fresh ideas. The page count will inevitable go back up, and it will inevitable get me in trouble, but that’s script writing.
I’ll keep writing, he’ll keep critiquing.