I just had the first production meeting for my film short. What a great and somewhat terrifying experience. It was great because I felt like the meeting was my first steps down a career path that I should have been traveling for a while now, yet somehow haven’t. It was also terrifying because my work was being scrutinized. If you ever want to see me squirm, read something I wrote aloud while I’m in earshot. Actually, let me amend that: If you’re reading some of my prose, I typically don’t mind. I think my work is pretty solid in that regard.
During college, I had to go through a number of literary workshops where my non-fiction pieces were shared with other students to be discussed the next day. I loved workshops – for the most part – and would even write my pieces with a performance quality in mind, since students would be asked to read their pieces aloud before discussion. I had no problem with workshops because I always considered myself to be a superior writer. That notion doesn’t carry through to screenwriting because I really don’t have anything to compare myself with.
Sure, I’ve read other screenplays, but the styles vary wildly. Screenplays are different from other kinds of writing because they’re mostly a blueprint that the rest of the crew uses to build the movie. Some screenplays go into production without even being complete. One action-oriented screenplay I read had filler descriptions, like, “I’m not sure yet, but something kick-ass happens here.” On the flipside, you get a screenwriter like Shane Black who writes in funny bits that are never meant to translate to the screen. For my part, I write my screenplays with utility in mind and I’m never quite sure how readers are going to react to my style. Furthermore, the people at this meeting tonight are bourgeoning industry professionals who subsist by working on actual productions. If anyone would know I was an amateur it’d be these guys. Thankfully, they enjoyed my script and it was great to see how they envisioned the film.
That’s the kind of experience I need – knowing what my descriptions conjure inside other people’s heads so that I can better control the final outcome of the film. On the other hand, if and when I make it in the big leagues, I’ll probably be asked to rewrite portions of the script that aren’t working for the rest of the crew anyway, so what does it matter what I write the first time?
The long and short of this is that I’m excited. The production could use a little help, however. We need a house that we can more or less “beat up” like an abandoned home, because we need to board up windows and spread trash around inside. We also need a deserted looking residential street. If you can provide or know of a place that has these locations, please pass them along!