I am spending this weekend reworking the script for my new film BADFELLAZ. Lots of characters have been deleted, or combined to make a better film. It is not unusual for me to issue more than 100 revised versions of a script. A lot of this is due to actors who drop out of a project, budget issues, or logistics problems that do not make what I write practical. On the other hand, sometimes, actors are so good I have to write new sequences for them.
Then, it becomes a balancing act, requiring me to self edit and that’s a whole ‘nother minefield. Self editing is a nightmare of second guessing, self doubt, and personal reflection. Is that gag funny? Is that action scene too much? IS there too much dialog and not enough action? Who wants to see a film like this? Is my ego in check, or should I write another big fight scene for myself?
Truth is, a writer has to be somewhat insane to be a good writer. Sane people simply do not create worlds, beings, motives, and scenarios for things that do not exist. In my case, my characters become my best friends.
So instead of finding me at a posh gathering of other “industry types” chatting about “works in development” or other nonsensical, unrealistic bullshit, I can be found most nights pecking away at this computer. And more often than not, it is the best place for a crazy person to be. After all, who the hell wants to be bothered with so called “real movie people” who are more plastic, phony and delusional than the characters in my mind?
So yeah, when I am writing, my characters tell me what they are going to say. When it doesn’t feel right, I know a character is rejecting my idea for their next line or action in the script. The voices in my head keep me writing, and I can’t stop until they say I’ve got it right.
This “getting it right” thing is especially troublesome if you’re the writer, producer, director and star. You not only have to weigh what a character says he/she wants, it has to be balanced with the reality of:
“Hey character in my head, no, I do not have two million dollars to write a scene with you jumping from an exploding Zeppelin.”
Yes, my personal late night writing sessions can be quite animated.
If I had one piece of advice to give writers, it is to go with your gut and keep writing. There is no such thing as writer’s block. You have to write through it. If it comes out like crap, rewrite it. This is not just about art, it’s a job and if done right, it can be commercially viable art. But, if you half ass it, the script will suck, and no amount of cool zombies, guns, or profanity will make it a good film. Especially when the script sucks.
Outside of determining your marketing and post production game plan before you shoot the first scene, the script is the foundation for a film that will ultimately succeed or fail. Success or failure is wholly dependent upon how well you combine the voices in your head—with the production manager on your production team.
After all, your made up characters cannot pay your bills or make your film work. That’s up to you.