Saturday, January 7, 2017

Of Writing and Being Clever

So here I am, at 2am, just after rewriting some parts of the movie script I am doing. I'm allowing myself this because I worked on my corporate stuff over the week, so this weekend, it will be this project and a few others.

I got feedback on my first draft from friends and a professional script doctor. I would really recommend working with someone who can comment professionally on your script, especially someone who is used to extremely different working arrangements and styles.

Method Writing

I started this project wanting to break free from my usual scriptwriting routine. Here's how I did it last time:

1. Synopsis

- Just a few paragraphs

2. Rough Treatment

- This details the acts, whatever format you choose

3. Scene Breakdown

- This step usually doesn't exist, but I used to work with production managers who want to know how many locations and how many actors with speaking and non-speaking roles are in how many scenes. This helps in calculating the budget, payments and duration of shoot.

4, Actual script - first draft

- Then you fill in the scene breakdown with stuff like dialogue and whatever.

5. Polishing

- this usually takes the most time and can take as many rewrites as possible.

6. Shooting script

- This is purely optional. You break up the scenes into shots to help the director and the AD. In fact, sometimes the scriptwriter doesn't do this in Malaysia.

I got bored with this method really fast, so for this project, I went all chaotic evil from the get go.

It jumped from one stage to the next and all over, because I wrote what I felt like writing, how I wanted to do it.

It's quite a mess now and I'm cleaning it up. I think it will be quite good after a few polishes.

Feedback is very important and knowing my extremely charming (in the way serial killers are charming) and dominant personality, I needed to apply shutting up and listening to people who know their shit.

You can always agree or disagree with feedback, but your goal is always the final product. And I want to push the thing as far as it could go because this story has already surprised me that it got this far. And I can't wait to close the book on this one, because I am working on other projects as well.

Relevant Questions

The script doctor asked me questions I found in scriptwriting books but never took seriously. It is different, hearing someone say it than reading it in a book.

Some of them are like, "Why are you writing this shit?"

And my answer would be, "To have fun!"

"So why would anyone go and watch this movie?"

"To have fun!"

I wasn't being glib or clever - and we'll talk about that in a while. I am being serious when I say I am writing these damned things to have fun. And I hope the fun translates to the audience.

Being Clever

One of the things I learned over the past few years about movies and writing them, is that it's not such a good idea to try and be clever.

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden asked Edward Norton, "So how's it working out for you, being clever?"

See, I have a deep-seated psychological issue of needing to be the cleverest person in the world. I believe everyone has that. They think, even in their stupidity and moments of sheer foolishness, that they are either smarter or they deserve to be smarter, BECAUSE.

It is linked to the primary driving force for all humans - to want to be or be seen as superior to others, due to their own insecurities.

I know this, because I have it too. I can only recognise things I see in myself.

I would like to say that after embodying the teachings of Eckhart Tolle that I have attained a level where the ego couldn't reach me, but that would be a lie.

I struggle with all these things on a daily basis. I am still insecure about my intelligence, despite being the Greatest Mind of the 21st Century. I do observe it, and notice it, whenever it pops up, but it doesn't mean I am any better at handling it.

I did do a short film that was too clever for everyone else. It had subtle hints at a bigger story, some wanky subtext shoved in all over the place. And when it was screened, nobody got it.

So I realised at the time that I write movies to reach out to the audience, to you. So understanding how stupid all of you are in understanding the glorious me, it would be stupid of me to assume that you would be so desperate and insecure yourself to want to understand every single fucking facet of any of my work.

Nobody has the time for that, except me.

The work serves a function to someone - anyone - and it is from their perspective. And while I enjoy puzzles to a certain degree and have dedicated my life in the pursuit of certain subcultures, I cannot expect the same of you. Any of you.

So let me mansplain everything to you, the inferior person, in an inferior language you could understand and one I wouldn't have any rejections over - fun.

Because in an existence with no real meaning, you should just have fun. Or else.