Categories: Director, Scriptwriting
Written By: Azhur Saleem
It’s been a while since I’ve written on here about the film and it’s because we’ve been busy writing away on the idea. As an update, Paul and I are forging through the script and it’s shaping up nicely.
The process has been amazing though. It’s important to us to try and get as much of the idea nailed before we sit down at our laptops on Final Draft and start putting it together. The reason for this is just to get the overall idea organised in our heads – and it’s MUCH easier to change things at this stage. You don’t want to get to page 90 and realise there’s a logic problem making you have to go back to page 1. Also, working on index cards, where each card represents a turning point or scene, means you don’t worry about the details or dialogue, even characterisation. You just work out the structure of the film.
A lot of time was spent discussing the idea, what kind of film we wanted to make and what we wanted to say as filmmakers. All of this is changeable, so it’s a case of moving around and slowly narrowing down our choices till we’ve refined our idea. At times though it did feel like we were circling this concept and trying to find the right way in. We must’ve come up with five different versions of the film; some were too huge and over-blown, some were too plot-driven, another idea had amazing antagonists but a weak protagonist who we had no idea how to write. Little things like changing what characters did for a living suddenly coloured the rest of the script – in a good or bad way.
Basically at the end of it this idea is one mercurial beast and pinning it down is based purely on gut-instinct and if this film is something that we would like to see. It’s so destructive to try and imagine what executive producers, or managers or financiers want to see out of it as you’ll water down the story. Another thing I’ve also had to remind myself is that it’s a work-in-progress. At university I always thought the first draft should be perfect and if it wasn’t there was something wrong with the idea and/or my writing. But you have to force your way through it and FIND the idea that serves the concept best.
When we couldn’t see the wood for the trees we always went back to our log-line (which even itself could change). It was more of a philosophical statement which would then inform us on our decisions. We debated each choice, making sure there were no plot or logic holes. If it didn’t make sense, we tried to make it make sense. Sometimes that worked, sometimes not. Other times you’d get towards the end of the film and realise the set up for the finale just didn’t work. That’s when you realise there aren’t any sacred cows. Even if we loved the first act and it was ‘perfect’ it would have to go if the ending wasn’t working. The setup has to be right and feel natural and believable.
Once we had the structure sorted on the index cards we wrote up the treatment, which was a little more detailed version of the cards and then onto writing the script. As using the index cards was for structure, when it gets to the script stage, we can concentrate on the little details and not worry about where the film is going. That’s already been worked out. In fact it makes the scriptwriting quite fun, you get to the meat of the scene.
I can’t wait for people to start reading it. I think there’s moments in the film that are really interesting and quite dark, set-pieces that visually reflect the philosophical statement at the heart of the film and really what I can’t wait for is to put on my directing hat and start visualising the film and designing all the elements!
I’ll try and update once we’re done and wrap up my experience on writing the first draft, then after that it’s brand new territory!