To be bold and ambitious or rather, naive and foolish, would all collectively summarise my decision to write the screenplay for WWII Drama one evening in February 2008.
Although, fingers to keys for the first scene wouldn't happen for at least a year and a half later and confined to evenings during a work placement. (To note: it's not an action war film).
As previously noted, it was a daunting prospect to be writing a drama set during the Second World War, although, it wasn't a decision made with my head but my heart. I had a burning desire to write this story and it just took over any rational thought. Plus I knew it had elements that had never been done before, other relevant positive factors and featured a knock-out title.
So I would have been a fool not to follow it, right?
I also knew nothing about the two world wars and had no real clue to the amount of research that lay in front me, as I had never written a script that required any large amount of research before. I hadn't even written a feature screenplay.
At a Danny Boyle talk last year (BFI Oct 08), he mentioned something along the lines of: In order to stay fresh, challenged and to lose your ego, he attempts a film in a different genre. This would account for his special array of films and is a great piece of advice because going in 'you know very little' and have to learn a whole new lot of everything.
In hindsight, the process of writing in a new genre is the greatest challenge there is and becomes a liberating and extremely grounding experience. I have always had ambitions to venture into different genres but this has made me even more determined but also aware of the ground work involved.
I did underestimate initially how much research was involved and soon learnt how it never ends, and that I wish I had a basic level of WWII and 1940s knowledge before I started. This lack of previous knowledge meeting the real deal soon started to chip away at my original treatment and reveal the various cliches it contained. But as the research and feedback continued the central story became more focused and its emotional journey enhanced. I became fascinated with what I was reading and it fed into my script and affected me emotionally unlike anything I've ever experienced.
The screenplay itself didn't end up as polished as I wanted due to the limited time I had to write it. But I am extremely proud and surprised at where it ended up and will trust my ability even more in the future. It did break my heart handing it in at what I consider an unfinished state, but thankfully it all worked out.
The process was unlike anything I've experienced and has become my own war story to tell or at least, to hold up against any further projects. The strangest thing is that I hardly remember the experience and question whether it was really me that wrote it.
In the end, it turned out to be an extremely challenging, rewarding and enlightening experience. It was as profound as they come and for a first feature screenplay it has certainly set the bar. It has also made me realise that I have so much to learn about character, writing and the world.
Although, I must say, I can't take full credit for the development of WWII Drama and hand over a good portion of that to my tutor for the project, Rosie Cullen. I don't think I could ever thank her enough for her advice, support and encouragement.
I look forward to polishing the current draft of WWII Drama for colleague feedback and then returning to it after one or two projects are complete. I aim to use it as a calling card script and look forward to the reunion and its next stage.
WWII Drama is the pinnacle of my writing achievements and is one I would go crazy over seeing in the cinema, and I think many others would also.
It... would... be... INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And that is why I write.
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