The part-time job all weekend and the deadlined freelance one on top have sure kept me busy the last few days and naught writing was done.
HOWEVER, I've come out with lessons learned:
1) I've been proofing a 550-page novel. It was work, so not a pleasure read - that said, it was a good one, quite the page turner. Still, I did have my critical eye open, and although it was indeed entertaining (the VOICE made it flow) I couldn't help but ponder a couple of points:
a) the plot advanced thanks to too many coincidences and "eureka" moments that lacked logic - they pick the right clues and discard the wrong ones way too easily.
b) a lot of nemeses. The "main" one, that is the one that appears in the final confrontation, lacked substance. One other possible one would have made for a great ultimate villain, except that, all along, the writer didn't seem to be sure whether she was a bad one or a good one, which made me not sure whether I should feel for her or hate her. And the protagonist didn't know either, which didn't help.
I'm all for characters changing side and all, but I guess a writer should not change their mind about them every five minutes - not in the final draft anyway. It's just confusing.
c) it all started with a painting ... clues hidden ... but I'm not convinced the painting had a purpose in being made in the first place! I'm a sucker for logic, so if something doesn't make sense, I just shake my head.
2) I watched District 9.
a) Never in a million years would I have thought that the little air-head funny bloke at the beginning was going to be the main guy. Seriously. But see how he changes? Talk about a character's arc. It feels like such a huge growth, surely, they can't make it work seamlessly within a mere couple of hours? Well, for me it worked. Thumbs up.
b) the guy transmuting ... I mean, that's The Fly all over, no? If I'd written that myself, I'd probably have binned it thinking it was so obviously not an original idea. However now, it reminds me that anyway "every story has already been told, it's the way you say it that matters."
- Use your voice
- Keep it logical
- Know who what and why 'cos if you're confused, so will the reader be
- As long as YOU like your story, go for it
- Have fun!
PS: I also realised how I can't wait to get back to doing some writing! Yay!
I'm not yet decided whether I shall name the film that I am about to talk about. This is going to be full of spoilers, you're warned. It's not my favourite genre and I only watched it because my friend wrote the score. I believe it is categorised as horror, I call it gore.
As far as the story goes, young girl escapes after being held captive and tortured. Fifteen years later, she finds the location of her tormentors and proceeds to exact revenge. So far, fine.
It starts with her escape, there's intrigue, surprise. She goes on to kill the people, including their kids. Wait ... The heroine kills innocent kids? Not too happy about that but let's see what happens next. Surely, they've got something coming up that will make it ok and make me like her again ... well, actually they haven't but hey. I have no idea where this is going so I watch on.
Now there's a monster that tries to kill her. Who is this? ... I wonder. This is shortly answered in a clever flashback that takes us instants before the opening scene. Quickly enough though, I notice the "monster" is only ever seen alone with her and not when her best mate's around. Could it be that the "monster" is just a figment of her traumatised mind's imagination? Yep. It's ok, let's just say it was clumsy, not a huge deal.
Midpoint: our heroine kills herself.
Hang on, what? Surely she's not really dead. Surely she'll come back to life just like that woman she killed earlier. No? No. She's actually dead. At this point, I frowned. My little mind went racing; it is not equiped to deal with a heroine who dies right in the middle of her story. So what happens now?
Now, my friends, we follow the story of her best mate. Why she's still in this bloody (in both senses) house beats me yet, again I watch on, mostly because I don't want to tell my friend I haven't watched the whole thing.
Our new heroine discovers the torture chambers in a secret basement. She finds another poor traumatised woman, that of fifteen years ago whose ghost had been haunting the first heroine ever since. She delivers her. In a way, I'm thinking she's better as a heroine. Not only doesn't she kill innocent children, she actually saves people (even the bad ones in fact). Anyway the poor woman is messed up and crazy and tries to kill her. Fortunately some official looking people arrive in the nick of time with big guns and shoot her in the head. It turns out, however, that those people are actually the evil ones! The torture thing wasn't just a family business, it is indeed the work of a much bigger organisation!
They now lock up our heroine in order to experiment on her. Oh my! Apparently after you isolate people (young women, no less) long enough and make them suffer, some of them reach a state of transcendance. They do. Even they start to see things, like the first heroine was seeing that "monster" woman. I'm thinking probably our new heroine is going to see her dead friend or something (which would get our original heroine back in the film). No. Well, it was just an idea.
Anyway, nothing much interesting happens, she gets skinned alive and all, and I'm bored. To tell you the truth, I fast-forwarded most of the second half.
The worst, however, is that I was left with nausea. It started pretty early on and didn't leave me. Of course I want a film to make me feel emotions, to leave me with something that will stay with me for a long long time. However, an urge for puking is not the kind of something that I want. No thank you.
This film has been shown at festivals and has won some prizes, so maybe it's just me ... bah.
... LATER Now that I think of it, some bits I fast-forwarded may have contained the visions of heroine #2, which might have been very interesting and even the point of the film, who knows. But frankly this far into the movie, it was too late. I just didn't care anymore.
The last week or so has been incredible in terms of meeting people. Whereas I wasn't sure if I should start networking before I had any good-enough script ready, by talking to people, I have now someone interested in reading my (hardly started!) script. I am not so much excited by the prospect of seeing the film already that much closer to being made (I wouldn't be surprised if nothing came out of this particular project) but I am excited by the motivation it is giving me to finish the screenplay.
There is now a reader out there (who is not a friend) who will read it and possibly consider producing it. More importantly, there is now a reader who is expecting to read my screenplay, the sooner the better, and I must not let them down. This is a chance to not only prove my reliability in coming up with the goods but also to showcase my skills as a writer.
The last few days have also seen me starting a collaboration on a short film. This too is a real motivator as we've already got a bunch of enthusiastic people involved. It has also been most interesting brainstorming ideas with someone else when I am used to working on my own (I am pleased to report that although we at times had slighty different views, I found myself very open to her ideas and we managed to weave in both our inputs nicely, me-thinks.) I knew that once a screenplay was written I would be fine letting it go. What I didn't know was whether I could create with someone else ... I can! Hurray! (I should watch it, mind you. The script is not finish, only a rough outline.)
Is there such a thing as too much preparation? Outline, re-outline, re-re-outline ...
Got my theme? Check
Got my plot? Check
Got my characters? Internal, external, what they did the last fifty years, where they were what they want, what bloody brand of cotton buds they clean their friggin' ears with ... nah, I sound like I hate them now. I don't! I like them, they're not all bright but they're good people. Except for that guy Gino, and that Mrs Wilkes. And Mrs Bagnato too.
I've realised after outlining, re-outlining, re-re-outlining that I had a lot of powerful women in this story, powerful over men they are. Does that mean something about me? I don't want to overpower men. I don't care about overpowering men, empowering myself is all I want! (damn that sounds cheesy).
Anyway the MC's a man and although he's not really strong at the beginning, he does empower himself as the story progresses. Which is the point. Hope it will balance all these weak men and nasty women. Sorry men.
Since there's no hitman anymore, then, I have changed the title to The Wettest June in History ... subject to change, it is still early.
A story of asthma, drug money and murders ... and a lot of rain.
I know all that, you now know that, so what am I waiting for?! Open that Movie Magic, woman!
PS: today's picture is that of little statuettes, of course. The least I can do to show my dedication to putting my foot in the industry's door ...
I am pleased to report that yesterday's to-do list was duly completed. Except for the 5 pages. Not that I haven't done any work on the script, but instead I have tightened up my outline. I had left it simmering for over a week, and my MC (main character)'s motivation wasn't clear enough. His background is now more polished, he's grown younger and I think it works better. Oh and there's no more hitman mistaken identity story here so I guess I need to find an alternative title for it.
I watched Scorpion yesterday. I can't say it blew me away. The story is unoriginal and not even well written. I didn't believe in either of the love stories and the bad boys didn't strike me as particularly scary, which made for a completely unemotional journey. To understand the importance of emotions in a screenplay I recommend Karl Iglesias' Writing For Emotional Impact; it's also got some invaluable tips on how to make the reader feel and care for the characters and story. The film wasn't all bad though. The soundtrack is what pushed it forward, supporting the MC's strive to fight his way out of his hole and sort himself out. Although I rolled my eyes at most of the dialogues, one bit has stuck into my mind (my translation):
LÉA: Why do you ignore me?
ANGELO: I don't ignore you. I don't see you.
Finally, attention to details. The MC's nickname is Scorpion. He's a sweaty muscular fighter and he's got that ridiculous little lion's head tattooed on his arm. Not even one with a big royal mane. What I would have liked to see, if he had to have a tattoo, is a big Scorpion one, preferably the design seen at the beginning and on the poster. I'm just saying.
Last Friday night, friends of mine invited me to a typical French auberge-like restaurant in Le Marais as a belated birthday treat. I sneaked outside for a cigarette as the dessert was not to my liking (a mille-feuilles, my friends, MUST be made with crème pâtissière; crème Chantilly or vanilla-flavoured crème fouettée as my kind waiter later corrected me is just not on). So there I was, sucking on my fag in the not so cold night, looking at the narrow streets and their blue signs, watching dressed-up women light up before elegantly climbing into taxis when it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't spent an evening like this in Paris for over thirteen years. It should have felt weird, yet it didn't. Yet it did.
It didn't in the sense that it felt like those thirteen years only lasted a couple of days and it did because obviously they did not. It felt like the place had not changed, the Parisians had not changed, but I had. It felt like I was travelling back in time, like I was visiting the ghosts of my past, yet another reminder that however restless I can get, however uncertain I sometimes am, the way is forward and going back is not an option.
When I go to France I say I am going home.
When I leave France I say I am going back home.
One of the friends I saw that night, Jo, is Swedish. She moved to London aged 19, then to Paris five years ago. She doesn't miss Sweden, she misses London.
The weird life of expats.
Something I'll never know: what it feels like to be born, raised, live forever in the same place. To have childhood friends.
Next step is to find that special place that really will be my home.
But really the next immediate step is to do some bloody writing, thing I've been avoiding all day, setting up a new blog instead. tssk tssk! ;)
I have five years to sell a screenplay, else ... well I haven't figured it out yet, but else something.
This blog will follow my journey into making it as a paid screenwriter as well as giving me an outlet for that bursting creativity that I struggle to contain and which at times takes the form of painting (and drawing), at times that of photography and at other times, that of writing (prose, poetry etc.). It would also take the form of music but I have neighbours. And I'd like to sculpt too. Cooking can also be very creative ...
The obstacles I have to face are: too many interests, short attention span and little monies.