My brain wheels have been CRANKING ever since I wrote a new 10 page short last night and had a long analysis and discussion about it with one of my dearest friends, Brian Villalobos.
This was an idea that I’d had many, many years ago and never actually wrote. Recently when I switched to FadeIn as my new writing software, I was importing old scripts and saw this title among them (even though I never actually wrote anything). I was like “Oh yeah! That idea!” I then heard a podcast which actually related to certain elements of this idea, and with my shiny new software (Ooh! New toy!), I was off and running.
I knew there would be three related scenes, all set at the exact same location over three different periods of time. I knew roughly what the “story” of each scene was. I actually wrote them in reverse order because the last scene was practically complete in my head, the second scene I had a pretty good idea about and the first scene I only had a very loose concept of the basic theme. Scenes 3 and 2 flowed out of me like water from a firehose. I tried not to think too much and just let it get out of my head and into existence so I’d have something there that I could always go back and tweak. Then I had to figure out the first scene. I took a long walk. I had a few basic ideas and possibilities, but then on this walk, one of them locked in and it started writing itself. I got home and started pouring it out, and simultaneously messaging with Brian. I finished it and immediately sent it over, as one of the parts was written for him and I trust and respect his intelligence, instinct and feedback immensely. I told him to pull no punches, I’m not delicate, and I’m good at filtering what is useful to me and what is just “not in line with my vision” or such. I’m open to critique.
He gave me lots of great feedback, all of which I agreed with and as often happens, confirmed some of my own instincts as to what could be viewed as weaknesses. It was revealing. It got me thinking. Mentally exploring other paths and possibilities. It was late so I went to sleep on it. Today my brain still ruminated on it all. What does it want to be? What do I want it to be? What is my intention here? I still have not answered that question but it’s all terribly interesting to me.
The biggest (subjective) weaknesses (my word, not his, and I totally agree with this) is that there isn’t enough conflict and not really any stakes. It’s light, quippy, and (as most of my writing is) extremely dialogue heavy. Walls of bantering dialogue. Here was my biggest revelation of the day though: I’m not sure it wants to be anything different. Again, I completely agree with the feedback and even things that I just personally see as deficiencies that didn’t even come from him, but every time I thought of good ways to introduce more conflict or higher stakes, I wasn’t sure I liked it. I realized that what I had written was just three moments in time about love in different forms between three characters. By all conventional wisdom and “rules,” this likely is not a good screenplay. And yet, it might just be what it wants to be and what I wanted it to be. There’s so much conflict and darkness going on all around that maybe I just want three scenes about three good people and the love they share between them all. Or maybe not. Maybe there’s so much deeper it could go.
So it’s a strange dilemma. I’m trying to just get some distance and come back to it a little fresher later. I don’t want to “force” any changes on it but at the same time is there any chance of it turning out well under these circumstances? Could the story, acting, cinematography, atmosphere, etc. still engage people and make them feel? Or will it just be a boring 10 minute character study that doesn’t really go anywhere or do anything and keeps people from really connecting with the characters? I really don’t know. I have no idea where this journey will go but I find it utterly fascinating, and I always say that the journey is more important than the destination.