A feature in five days -Aftermath

I was going to do a book review today, but I felt like wrapping up the five day script challenge first.

As I mentioned in the comments on the last post, the official word is good. The script has been well received and I’ve had remarkably few notes.

Worryingly, it does seem that the less time I have, the stronger my work is. The notes I have had are mostly minor. The biggest one being a lack of clarity on the chronology of the sub plot – which is fair enough, since I only worked it out myself once I was halfway through.

As I was wandering up to the office yesterday, I had a flashback. A proper ‘Lost’ style, wooshing flashback. An image, of a single page of script which contains these words:

       FELICJA
Something about the problem.

       ANIA
The solution to the problem.

       FELICJA
Something about implementing the solution.

Balls! I left the placeholders in.

I tend to do this when I sort of know what needs to go in there, but not the specifics or how to tie it to the theme. Rather than get stuck at a particular point puzzling over the details, I sometimes find it’s better to drop in these placeholders and just move on.

What I don’t normally do is leave them in when I send someone the script.

Oh well, one mistake in 122 pages – not bad.

At least, the only one I can remember so far.

Something this script drove home to me (yet again) is how glad I am to be a writer now as opposed to prior ten years ago. This script is a Rom-Com set in Krakow, where the city is as much a character as the people. The script needs to reflect the city and its locations.

The problem is, I’ve never even been there. Never even set foot in Poland.

Yet, with the aid of the Internet, I can confidently (ish) write a script set in a city I’ve never seen. I can search for hotels, find one in the location I want and describe it accurately from photos. I can find anecdotes from travellers who’ve stayed there and weave those in.

One scene requires a night club to be right next to the hotel.

No problem.

I found several nearby, found out what the clientele were like, what music they play and can even see photos of the interiors. I can measure the distance from the club to the hotel and time the conversations exactly.

One character is picked up from his hotel and driven to a specific location. I want the driver to give him a brief tour of the city en route – easy. Google maps plans the route, shows me which streets are one way (or were when the maps were compiled) and then I can switch between the map view and the satellite view to determine what can be seen from the car.

Later on, I need a walking tour of the city – so I look up a company which gives walking tours and find their itinerary. Then I put each location into Wikipedia and paraphrase the first line of description as my scene description. A search of travellers’ comments gives me the details to point out.

I’m not saying all this adds up to a incredibly detailed and accurate description of Krakow – but it’s a hell of a lot better than if I’d just made it up. The director, who goes there a lot, thinks I’ve captured the city well – something which would have been incredibly difficult B.I. (before Internet).

Yeah, going there would be better; but on a five day schedule, that isn’t really practical.

The down side of course, is it’s hard to stay focused on your script when every single piece of information (both real, imaginary and just plain wrong) in the whole world is available and waiting. I learnt some really bizarre and random pieces of information while I was writing this script – including ideas for two more feature scripts.

Still, five days eh? Not bad.

And in case the short time frame wasn’t enough, for the first four days I was nervously waiting for the results of some rather life-changing information; and on Thursday I had a phone call from the BBC asking for more sketches. I spent the last two days of the script scribbling sketch ideas down on a pad beside the keyboard.

All in all, it was a stressful few days; but I’m glad I pushed myself that little bit harder.

Although, it does make me wonder: if it only take five days to write a feature script, what the hell have I been doing with my life?

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Categories: BBC, BBC Sketch Show, Progress, Random Witterings | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “A feature in five days -Aftermath

  1. POLAND info (for your file):

    Was commenting on a Poppy Day blog the other day, and dug this fact up:

    Of all the countries involved in WWII, Poland lost the largest PERCENTAGE of its population at over 18.5% dead.

    Germany believe it or not, lost more in total numbers dead than Poland, but not as a percentage of its country’s population. In sheer numbers, Russia of course, lost more than any other nation on earth. But it’s Poland that lost the largest amount of its citizens as a PERCENTAGE OF THE COUNTRY as a direct result of WWII.

  2. “What the hell have I been doing with my life?”

    Living at a normal speed perhaps?

  3. Lizzy

    Phill…bless you and you tips….as the book I’m struggling with I’m trying to figure out exactly how to explain London and unfortunately I’ve not ever been there. Yet. I have no idea WHY I didn’t think “DUH google” but alas, I didn’t. Now I shall google until I can google no more! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Danny: I didn’t know that – but it’s a scary fact.

    My favourite fact is that Poland was moved a couple of hundred miles to the left after the second world war.

    Oli: Not good enough, I could be retired by now if I’d just pulled my finger out.

    Lizzy: Google is my middle name. Well, it’s not, it’s David; but I’m thinking of changing it.

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