Thursday, December 2, 2010

Doubting the screenplay

Chris and I have decided to do the reading a week from tomorrow (Dec 10th) with the actors for Casualties of Love after a lot of stalling on my part mostly.

And that stalling comes with the fact that I will have to spend some money for the theater and for 5 actors who will each get what we call "gas money", but is really a sort of payment that barely could be a tankful. Also getting gas money is a production assistant who will probably operate the video camera and another assistant. I might also have a friend or two, directors, to watch and offer ideas afterwards. And I buy  lunch too.

The other reason for stalling is that I don't quite like the script. 

Yes, it's my script, and I want to do it, but I realize that something is missing in it and I don't know what it is.  Some people have read it and thought it was okay, but when I say something is missing, they offer a pile of suggestions. Unfortunately none of the suggestions led to a solution.

Is this a writer's block? I always answered the issue of writer's block by saying I couldn't afford to have writer's block. Certainly when a screenplay assignment is due, it has to be ready. 

But when it's my script for my film, I begin to have doubts. And not only for Casualties of Love, but for all my scripts. All 34 unproduced scripts and even some ideas.  One script that always inspires me is my favorite, Emperor of Mars, but yet, even that one has me uncertain some times.

Welcome to the world of the independent freelance writer. Any writer who is certain their script is perfect is rare, at least among the writers I know.

But what is the problem with Casualties?

I think it has to do with the last act. Simply put, I don't think it works. Yet. There is an ending and it's an okay ending, but somehow I know it can be better.

Fortunately that's why I'm having a reading of the screenplay; to find the holes and mistakes and bland dialog that stops the movie in it's tracks. A film has to move forward and every scene must move it a few more feet at a time.

Right now I have an ending that doesn't really offer a twist of any kind. And that's deadly as a bad ending can kill a sale. So right now, I'm waiting for the Patron Saint of Screenwriters to drop a friendly inspiration into my mind. But more than likely it will come from somewhere out of the hard drive in my brain that always comes to the rescue.

And it might happen today or tomorrow, or even at the reading where I at last get to hear the words spoken for the first time besides the hundred times I've heard them in my own mind. Writing is a lonely business and sharing can bring wonderful surprises -- or horrible realizations that what you've just written is awful.

But I'm also using the reading for a sales tool. Once completed I will take the video home and edit a promotional trailer, a 5 minute clip of the best material that I can show potential investors that I am serious. And that some money has already been spent on the project.

Investors don't like to be the first in, they would rather see someone else there first. Gives them a little more confidence that the project is real. Of course, the oldest saying in Hollywood (besides "I can put you in the movies") is "Don't invest your own money". Of course that suggests you have money in the first place.

So, today we tell the actors we chose that they are the lucky ones, they get to read the screenplay for Chris and I and my director friends. And I get to figure out the third

(Mon: Preparing for the next disappointments)

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