Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eating Our Words or Reading Our Food?

Table Reading or Food Fight?
Writing a feature script adaptation like ours can readily be compared to creating a gourmet meal - appetizers are akin to act one; the main course to act two; dessert to act three. In a screenplay, words, phrases and dialogue add spice and surprise to the taste buds of those consuming the 'meal'.

How better to continue this comparison than by having a reading of the present draft of our GREEN DARKNESS script before we send it off for a critique?

The reading will be held around a dining table at Angela's home. Angela's Mom always told her not to read at the table--in case she got confused and ate her book! Make note--Refreshments to be held in reserve until the reading is done!

We figured organizing such an event would act like dangling a carrot in front of two donkeys (there's that food analogy again!) - Angela and I both work better/write faster with the pressure ax swinging like a pendulum over our heads. We've already chosen a new title, written a movie poster tagline, and now this new draft.

Angela proposed the table reading to an acting group from a city near her hometown. We kept the number of readers that we'd need down to a bare minimum by doubling up supporting characters and having one actor read many parts. (Our script helped a lot with this whittling of numbers, because we have three lead characters who play dual roles in the present and past.)

Wow! We were overwhelmed at the group's positive response to our proposed event. They haven't done anything like this before. Enthusiasm runs so high that we didn't object to having to go through the script again to separate the speaking parts. Fingers are crossed that everyone who wants to take part can find a date that works into their schedules.

Hopes soar that the table reading will be filmed, so Marla can see it too - we don't live in the same city. Angela may have to wear a gag so she'll refrain from defending or explaining any part of the script during the reading. She's just supposed to listen, but duct tape is at hand, just in case.

We're not under any illusion that the flavor of our words will be enough to fill stomachs. Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided for our actor guests. Reading aloud can dry one's mouth.

We just hope that the spice and passion of the script doesn't result in an actual food fight worthy of posting on YouTube!

Stay tuned for the reading's result -

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wrangling Three Octopi – And A Horse

Tackling an adaptation is a daunting task. You need to find the most interesting scenes, the ones that will translate well to the silverscreen and then make the plot your own.

Tackling a rewrite of an adaptation is not for whimps. Marla and I have both done a lot of rewriting in our time and I have also rewritten scripts for clients. It’s tough but somehow this one has proven to be much harder.

Part of that challenge has been the fact that we received feedback from a trusted consultant who recommended we dispose of the entire first act. That meant changing all the dramatic introductions that we’d worked so hard at, and since we were changing the location we had to start from the gate.

First step? Outline, of course. Which we did, until we had a solid plan for the new beginning. I was concerned that the new first act was going to come in short in terms of the page count. In a one hundred page script, the first act should be about 25 pages, the second act 50 pages and the third, 25. Those are rough estimates but you certainly want the act “breaks” to fall at about that page, give or take 2 or 3 pages.

So I transferred the outline into our screenwriting software and proceeded to flesh it out, BUT, since I knew Marla was going to be busy I decided to surprise her. Big mistake!

Did I mention that Marla and I are usually on the same wavelength? LOL We must have been that day, because she decided to surprise me! And did she ever!

I was barely halfway through my “fleshing” when I received a call from her. Apparently, Marla had had a fabulous idea for a new first act. It just jumped up and grabbed her unbidden and out of nowhere. That’s how inspiration works sometimes --and she couldn’t rest until she had it all written down. She nearly had to cancel her plans that day, but found the idea so strong it stayed with her all during the movie she went to see! Now that’s one very unforgettable idea!

And I loved it!

But then the octopi attacked. I should explain, that a rewrite is like tackling an octopus. I had already added a second octopus to the fray when I started fleshing out our outline and now Marla’s brainstorm was added to the frenzy. Three octopi, 24 tentacles, and suction cups galore.

A beastly sticky situation if ever there was such a beast.

It was a tough job, but I managed to assemble it into a semi-coherent mess. It’s in chronological order now, and that’s at least something we can work with! And we now have more conflict in the story, more hooks and intrigue.

No pain, no gain. Improvement has its ruts along the way. We’re getting there.

Now we “just” have to rewrite 30 pages in act 2. And change the mess into a masterpiece.

Oh, and the horse? Since we picked the actor we really want for the protagonist, and I saw him on a horse, I’ve been kind of obsessed with our protagonist riding a horse at some point in the story. Marla has been laughing at me for weeks, but her new intro…?  Have I got her on my wavelength at last?

Neigh! LOL