Monday, June 20, 2011

FEAR, LOATHING, AND PRODUCTION NOTES: A Savage Journey Into The Heart of Indie Filmmaking (Part 3, Screenwriting)

"I'm not a writer!" 

It was the first honest thing I'd said to Sandy in weeks, and spat out in desperation as she wrestled me back through the window frame I'd sought to escape through.

I've never been skilled with words. When other minds are forming coherent sentences, linear progressions of thought, and tangible plans, mine is almost constantly in some sort of right-hemisphere daze, a perpetual acid trip which has saved me hundreds of dollars in drug-related expenses over the years.

"Fred Lansing has been calling me non-stop for two days now. We're shooting tomorrow and he wants a copy of the script."

So that was her game. Feign offense at my procrastination and thereby clear her own name with the cast. I realized she had to be recording our exchange and gave the room a cursory scan for surveillance equipment, spotting nothing out of the ordinary. No surprise. She's far too good to leave a trail. Releasing my grip on the window sill, I allowed her to pull me back inside and made a mental note to return the next day with some industrial-grade debugging equipment.

"The script is finished. It just needs some editing for grammatical errors and typos." This was a lie to throw off the unknown third parties which were certainly listening in. " Also, I'd like to state for the record this woman is under the influence of several known hallucinogens."

That would give the bastards on the other end of the wire something to chew on. "Hah," I laughed, maybe out loud, maybe not. The world had taken on a hazy sheen and it was difficult to distinguish between the two. On some level of consciousness I was aware of Sandy throwing her arms up, exasperated, and storming from the room. Good. I needed my space dammit. I'm an artist.

It's easy (some might say inevitable) to go a little mad while creating. The trick is to ride it out, see the chemical shift coming and prepare for it. Clearing your workspace of sharp objects and some of the stronger drugs is essential. You don't want to be chasing the wife around with an ax when your last tenuous connection to reality finally snaps. And it will. It will certainly snap.

Starting a new project means making a date with the blank word document, its featureless face challenging you from behind a wall of expensive and easy-to-crack glass. Delay if you want, but any respite is tainted by the knowledge that soon, very soon, you will have your time with that hateful, empty screen. Every line written will spawn a dozen questions. Can my actors pull this emotion off convincingly? Do I have the time for all these effects shots? Do I have the time for all this dialogue? After hours of second-guessing every letter committed to the page, you're left with something of a cinematic stew spoiled by too many chefs, each and every one those chefs being a figment of your imagination. Philistines will believe that a psychic landscape fertile enough to host such a roster of distinct voices could also bang out a screenplay. They are wrong, of course, as philistines so often are.

No comments:

Post a Comment