Friday, 4 December 2009

Fade in:

As I said in a previous blog some weeks ago at the end of the last film shoot, I am deep into writing a new film again.

And now I can report that it was with great joy, that at 3.30 this afternoon, I wrote the satisfying words "The End", and thus completed the first draft.

This has been a tough one to write. The subject was very complex in terms of medical terminology, and I had to get it precise.

And I'm no doctor. Though after all the research in the past few months, I feel ready to take my hippocratic oath!

The script is an adaptation of 148 pages of a book, so in a lot of ways the structure and the dialogue was already worked out for me. However, as I wrote, it was difficult not to write exactly what was written in the book, word for word. It kind of draws you in, and before you know it you're not thinking anymore.

That sounds strange doesn't it? Surely I'm meant to write what is in the book? It's difficult to explain, but put simply the written word doesn't always lend itself to the visual story. It also drains you of creativity, reading the book over and over, and when that happens, you'll do anything other than write, even stopping to watch the TV programme Neighbours!

I start the process by thoroughly researching what went into the original book, and at times research things mentioned that I want to embellish a bit more. My next stage involves a rough noting down of the actors that will populate my film, starting with the main lead. I find it helps if I assign a real world actor to this character, as close to my vision of him as I can think of. On this occasion it was Scots comedy actor Steven McNicoll. I can then picture him moving, and speaking, and at times, rather spookily, he will speak to me! No, I'm not going mad, and it doesn't happen very often, but if you get the character just right, the writing becomes easier, and you can't write fast enough to keep up with your imagining of his acting. That is a blessing, but very rare.

When I'm casting it on paper I must also consider the budget restrictions of getting the film shot, and at times this can be frustrating, for as a writer and director you don't want these limitations. But it can also be useful in keeping the story lines tight.

Then I structure the film, storyboard it in my head, then on paper. It must flow, and be easily understood by the audience. It's all very well me understanding it, after all, I'm coming up with it in my head, but getting that onto paper that can then be shot, edited and finally viewed and understood as you first imagined it, well, that's the tough part.

Finally, I write, keeping my notes of the characters, their genders and traits, the structure, locations and who's who at which location etc, close by.

Three weeks on, and it's done!

I will now leave it for a few days, review it fresh next week, and then once I'm satisfied with the first draft, I'll send it to the producer and the team. Hopefully before the end of the year, feedback and any alterations will reach me, and I start again, on draft two.

Writing is re-writing as they say.

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