Journey to Less Shittiness (Week 3)
I’ll be real with you, this was not a week I was able to breeze through. I started off setting a deadline to finish a first draft at the script I’m currently working on by Sunday…at time of this writing, I’m not even close. My procrastination has been turned up to 11 on my pomodoros, so I’m going to need to do some serious catching up there if I’m going to hit 14. And my 7 pages had better get done if I’m still shooting to make that first draft deadline.
1 script: HOT FUZZ (screenplay by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg)
I must’ve seen this move at least 5 times prior to this; I have a soft spot for these types of meta comedies that send up traditional Hollywood moviemaking (TROPIC THUNDER is another favorite in this bucket). I also have a soft spot for Edgar Wright, who I would put in the genius bucket, and as he’s such a visual filmmaker, I wanted to get a sense of how this style played out on paper. Were there a lot of “SMASH CUT TO:’s, or “CAMERA WHIP PANS TO:”, or some other crazy transition directions I had never even thought of?
Turns out, the answer is no! Barely any of these crucial camera directions that make an Edgar Wright film and Edgar Wright film made it to the screenplay (at least to the draft I read). So from there, Wright must do a TON of work on storyboarding how these shots are going to go in order to really make the visuals work for the story in the quintessentially Edgar Wright way.
- ROOM (screenplay by Emma Donoghue) adapted by Donoghue from her original novel, this movie really took me by surprise. [SPOILER ALERT (I guess? Though it came out 2 years ago)] I was shocked to see that they had escaped Room barely half way into the movie; I came in anticipating the climax would end up being their final escape, so it ended up engaging me a lot more knowing that there was so much more left in the story. There was an interesting moment during her interview where I thought the big reveal to Jack and climactic event would be him finding out his dad is Old Nick. Though that ended up being the inciting incident for Joy to realize how fucked up her situation is and decide to try to kill herself. Writing from the perspective Jack was a great approach to telling this story. With his voiceover describing his thinking throughout, I got the sense he might have been giving his story as some kind of project assigned in school. His nearly unceasing optimism throughout was painfully sad and adorable and made it particularly hard as the viewer to have more information than he did about how bleak the situation was.
- BLADE RUNNER 2049 (screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green) So this is kind of a two-fer, because I did bite the bullet to rent the original BLADE RUNNER to prepare myself for the reboot (or sequel or whatever you call it). I really didn’t hate 2049; the cinematography was very dramatic, the sound was excellent, the acting was solid…but since this is a blog about screenwriting, I have to say that the story left something to be desired. It felt like there were a few loose ends that didn’t really serve to help the story and made me fear for the sequel set up that they implied. Wallace not meeting any sort of end or having any kind of last sign off scene, plus the unfinished subplot of the Replicant rebellion that “Joe” was supposed to be helping out by killing Deckard (which he ultimately didn’t do), were both frustrating ellipses. And I’ll cut these guys some slack, there’s no way they could’ve wrapped up everything in this movie, and it was already testing my patience at 163 minutes, but maybe this was an indication they were trying to do too much.
Another interesting strategy change from the original was a lack of voiceover for our main Blade Runner protag. I really loved the film noir vibe that the voiceover added to the original, and it actually helped answer a lot of questions that were prompted by a pretty complicated world. I watched the original with a partner who had also never seen it and the voiceover perfectly answered all her questions she asked of me within the next 15 seconds or so.
Overall, I’d recommend checking it out, but don’t hold your breath. And go to the bathroom before it starts.
7 pages: I set a deadline for myself to get a somewhat readable version of the current script I’m working on done…and I think I hit it. I don’t know, I might be being too generous with myself, but it’s readable…I swear. I got 70 pages cranked out and they’re legible, there’s a semblance of a story, it’s a comedy and there might be a couple funny bits. In any case, I’m calling it shipped and I’m tasking my partner with reading it within the next week, which could potentially fit the definition for cruel and unusual punishment.
In this next week, I’m not going to touch it. I’ll see what she says and try to work on focusing mostly on story development for the other project I thought of last week.
14 pomodoros: I’ve done a terrible job with these, admittedly. The curse of procrastination is proving to be extremely potent, and there was more than one day where I set my alarm to an early hour and I ended up catching another few snoozes and putting the cycles off. I don’t think I hit 14 this week, but still, I’m feeling the writing habits are starting to form. I’m pulling up screenwriting things more frequently every day, I made a small investment in some formal screenwriting assistance via Stephanie Palmer’s Good in a Room, and I also started a couple writing books (Hero with a Thousand Faces and the Hidden Tools of Comedy). Feeling pretty good about the progress I’m making, I just need to be a bit more disciplined in getting out of bed on time.
NEXT WEEK: jumping back into the old school comedies with BLAZING SADDLES to read. I’ve never seen THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, which is apparently a travesty despite it being juvenile, but that’s on the list. I’m trying to make it to BATTLE OF THE SEXES tomorrow if I can get there in time after work. We’ll see how the day plays out.