Tuesday, 14 August 2007

I can’t be bothered to write. None of its good anyway.

I don’t know if anyone is completely confident with what they write or are motivated twenty-four-seven to write. If you are then congratulations, if not I think its something that will improve but won't ever go away.

I do think that most aspiring writers suffer the same problems with confidence and motivation. For me personally it boils down to most of the time I have no confidence in writing and on short occasions I have a lot.

In the times of no confidence I just try to forget everything and everyone and just write for myself. The moment you start thinking what other people will make of it and comparing it to greater works - its ruined. Just go with your instincts and shut out everything else.

I’d like to think I have high standards when it comes to stories and being critical. So if I can make myself happy then that’s the first obstacle out the way and for me the most important.

An example of a clash between high and low confidence was with a short drama script called Brother Sleep - began with the best of intentions this summer. Its about a ten year old boy who feels the victim of some injustice in the world but doesn’t know any better.

At the beginning of the summer I returned to the initial idea and it felt great and I felt confident about it. It would be like another Narratives. So I had a blitz on that but then it stopped. I’d gave everything in the idea and then had nothing more to give. Also the story and what happened had been devalued the more I thought about it and worked on it. So instinctively I blamed the idea for not being good enough and keeping my interest. So the confidence plummeted and I left it.

This I’ve found happens with a lot of ideas - I give it my all, leave it, feel bad about it and then return to it a later date. But this time I felt like I could write it all in one go. I felt that confident. So weeks past and I felt pretty sad that I’d done a one eighty on the project.

‘You always kill the things you love.’

That’s I what I thought I did. But a month later a new thought on it sparked off another train of ideas that lead to that return in confidence and motivation. I’m still on that high with it even though I’m on a break from it, which is great. The scene breakdown awaits adapting.

What I gathered from this was that in most cases having low confidence in yourself and your writing boils partly down to all these great ideas that stay for awhile and then go. Or those great ideas that go nowhere. Its bound to knock your confidence each time. But its not your ability that needs questioning.

‘Every idea has a time.’

Tarantino said it best - in relation to his written opening scene of Kill Bill (he’d left for four years) - 'it was left in a draw and has been building up ever since.' And when he went back to it - it had built up so much, it was all there in his mind and was ready to be written.

In no literal comparrison - this is true for all those projects i was so confident and determined to write at the beginning of the summer. Some have returned and others are waiting for their time.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Now for the salesman in me.

‘Psychology for Screenwriters - by William Indick.’

I think this book should be on every serious screenwriters bookshelf. It’s the first of its kind and is worth it. I'm only on the third chapter. So it must be good eh?

This book made me realise i didn’t know much about my characters and what really drives them. It opens up a whole new world of thought not to mention literally the minds of my characters.

At the heart of any story is the characters and to know their psychology and what drives them in its basic terms is an invaluable tool. Its the most vital elements of a script. Structure, story, dialogue can be re-worked later, characters can‘t without heavily compromising the journey and whole reason of your script.

As an example;
The Neurotic complex; the id, ego and the superego; all exist within ourselves and are in constant conflict - but due to the difficulty of conveying a character’s inner conflict the three types are displayed visually - in different characters; the id and natural impulse is represented by the villain. The ego, the protagonist and the superego, his father. So the inner battle of our hero becomes a visual one.

This isn’t just a book on psychology. Its tied into films and scriptwriting and gives you ways in which to further build on conflict in your script. It’s a pretty incredible book and revelation for the budding screenwriter.

'You will buy this book.' - as his hand slightly motions past your face.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Heroes. Pilot. Script.

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on an U.S. pilot script. It's a joint project and has been going about three months. But the reason its what I’m working on now is down to the pilot script of Heroes: Genesis. (Not why it exists but why I’ve returned to work on it.)

Heroes is one of these shows that (as a writer) makes you feel many different emotions all at once; firstly awe, at the fact that its such an exciting and original show, then jealously, because it is such a great show and you wish you had written it and then comes, self-doubt and worthlessness, because you’ll never be able to write anything that good. Also add possible heartbreak, when a major element/reason of the show mirrors one of your own ideas. But I’ve managed to suppress the negative and i'm in complete awe of the show. Above all else its inspiring and that's what took me back to my script.

I printed the Heroes script out around February I think - with the intention of reading it as soon as possible. I always knew that I wanted to read it before I saw it. But it never felt like the right time to read it. I had flicked through and caught the opening picture of the eclipse and then at its various stages with multiplying cockroaches and saw the end picture- the last image of the pilot episode. Some people had already seen the show or were currently watching it. But I couldn’t bare to watch it online or downloaded to DVD- to me it just goes against the whole point of a good show. I always knew I wanted to experience the Heroes universe in my own time.

The right time came five months later and the night before the episode is about to air on BB2.

I’m no expert on reading scripts or reviewing them but a few things come to mind with the Genesis script; above all - its quality. It's well written and thought out. It's visually perfect, dramatic, suspenseful, has amazing intrigue; complex but is presented in a simple way and has a variety of distinct characters who have clear goals. Overall it was an amazing read and experience.

One of the reasons for reading the script before I saw the episode was to see how it translated and how much of it did.

*Minor Spoiler Alert*

A very interesting and rightful cut was with Issac - he had handcuffed himself to the radiator in a bid to kick his habit. But ended up doing a 'saw' and cut off his hand to free himself for a fix. I don't know how this original conclusion came about as surely Issac would be needed to paint more images of the future.

They also cut a whole character and his story out of the pilot. This character is D.L and he now turns up in a later episode. But its easy to see why he was cut because he wasn't completely necessary and didn't advance the story at all.

Another noticeable cut was with Claire, the cheerleader and having dinner with her family. This was a great scene and a favourite of mine mainly because - in reply of her mother asking what she did today she said 'I jumped off a cliff and didn't die'. Her mother then tried to identify with her and said she'd had many metaphorical jumps herself. But really didn't understand what she meant.

Also in this scene her father wasn't said to be the mysterious villain guy with the glasses, which was odd. Her father in the scene was called Kent. So it seems they decided afterwards to combine him and the father character for better effect or he planned to take his place during the series and they brought it forward. One of the great things with the script - was that this villian character was only known as Horn Rimmed Glasses.

An odd change was the names of Peter Petrelli and his (flying) brother. They originally were Ethan and Harrison Cambell.

Although I loved watching the episode it did seem to run past me pretty quickly. It's being able to read at your own pace, the enhanced level of detail and being open to interpretation and free of boundaries is why I prefered reading the script over watching it.

The fact that the script was so visual and entertaining it inspired me to return to a project that was similar in its market and target audience. It's something I’d left for awhile and didn't seem as keen on. But it wasn’t that the idea was boring or had no life it was the fact that I had done all I could on it so far and just needed some new inspiration and perspective. And there was no greater inspiration (and reality check) than Heroes.

You can read the Heroes pilot script here.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

I think we need a break.

Something that i've known for a while but not fully appreciated until recently - is the the value of 'time away' from an idea and continued 'experiencing' of other stories - to keep your mind still going and open to inspiration. Its through being inspired that we want to create and only through experience can we be creative.

The above is a probable theory for overcoming a block or disinterest in an idea. Sometimes you can overdo it and put everything into an story/script for a relentless period of time - and then nothing. You've wrote down all you feel, everything associated with the idea - and now you're at a standstill.

This is good.

It either means you need to go away and research your arena or characters more - or its time to go away and recharge your batteries - take in other creative forms and return with new energy, inspiration, perspective and ideas for your story and characters.

At the other end it could mean you didn't get a quick enough grip on the story and characters in the first place and you let them get away. So you need to put the time in to get to know them.

Monday, 6 August 2007

One Hour Drama.

For the last two weeks i've been working on a new idea for the one hour drama and have managed to create something just as dramatic and moving as Requiem. Oddly enough it was one of the ideas that came out not going with that.

For next term we need to have two outlines for this. So for my second I have two ideas in mind and they also came out of leaving Requiem:

1. A social/political sci-fi drama about a future who favour politcial honour over family.
2. A family drama about the effect of a high school shooting on the killer's family.

I still want to complete a first draft of this for next term. Although at the moment i think i should be concentrating the two outlines.