So what does a writer’s vision actually look like? … you’ve mentioned a few of these now. — Yeah, big piles of dosh, but what do the producers actually want to see from the writer? Tell us, tell us, tell us!?
So what does a writer’s vision actually look like?
A piece of paper with some black ink marks on it. If you’re lucky the ink marks make readable words, if you’re really lucky the words are in the right order to make some kind of sense.
… you’ve mentioned a few of these now.
Yes, I repeat myself a lot. It’s to cover the fact I have nothing interesting to say.
— Yeah, big piles of dosh,
Sadly, no. Little piles, clumps perhaps, is more realistic. Big piles are but a fantastic dream.
but what do the producers actually want to see from the writer?
Producers want to see you lying in a pool of your own excrement, a broken psychological mess with bleeding stumps where once were fingers from slavishly actioning their increasingly bizarre and inane script notes. Producers are evil. They kick puppies.
Tell us, tell us, tell us!?
Alright, alright, alright!!
The truth is, I’m not really sure. When I was first asked for one I queried the producer in question since I had no idea what I was supposed to write. His reply was:
Writer’s Vision – what story/message they hope to be told with their script. Their inspiration/motivation for writing it (yes, I know, I begged you to write it within 9 days – no need to mention this, because I’m sure I’d edit it … )
And he included a sales pack for a film as an example.
Not a very good example as it turned out because the words ‘Writer’s vision’ didn’t appear anywhere in the document. When I mentioned this to him he said he knew that and pointedly didn’t offer any further information.
So, what the hell is a writer’s vision?
Well, I can only tell you the two I’ve written have been accepted and approved, so whereas I’ve still never seen anyone else’s I know how I do them. Unfortunately, I can’t show you them because the films haven’t been made/released yet but I’ll have a go at describing what I did.
First up, I figured since it’s going in the sales pack it needs to be short (ish). A paragraph or two, definitely no longer than one side of A4. So mine are just a single page, title of the film and WRITER’S VISION written at the top and a few paragraphs of text underneath. The thing to remember is the text is going to be lifted and printed in the pack, so there’s no point trying to make it look pretty because it won’t be your formatting in the final version.
My first attempt talked about how the characters reflect, and are affected by, the theme. Plus a bit of generalisation about how people generally behave in similar ways. This draft was rejected because it was too cold and didn’t feature enough of ‘me’ in it. Assuming they didn’t want it written in blood (or other bodily fluids) I had another go.
The second draft related the theme to instances from my own life and how they had affected me and my friends. I talked about the mistakes my (mostly fictional) friends and I have made in our lives and how I hoped dramatising them might give other people pause for thought.
Which seemed to do the trick.
For this latest writer’s vision I’ve followed much the same format. It starts with an explicit statement about the theme – basically a logline which describes what the movie’s about rather than what actually happens. So whereas the logline might be:
“LOCK IN: A man trapped in a pub overnight comes to terms with the damage his alcoholism has caused his friends and family.”
(Which is a film I’d probably never write unless the pub was in space or there was a danger giant killer robots might attack at any moment.)
The theme statement might be:
“LOCK IN is about the way we conform to societal expectations of substance abuse and the bizarre notion ‘fun’ isn’t something you have, it’s something you buy in bottles.”
Then I’d describe why I thought exploring this idea was important, what I hope the audience will gain from the film (which for me is always entertainment first, thinking second – the thinking shouldn’t kick in until about an hour afterwards. Probably in the pub) and an example from my life of how the theme has affected me or someone close to me.
(Like friends refusing to come to the pub because they couldn’t afford to get drunk. I’d offer to buy them a drink, but that wasn’t enough for them, they had to get DRUNK or it was pointless – making me wonder what the hell goes wrong with your life that you can’t face your friends when you’re sober? It’s not the music, it’s not the location, the company or the atmosphere – the point of going out is solely to get drunk and if they can’t do that they’d rather sit in the house on their own.)
Next I’d relate the main character to the theme and explain how his journey represents the spiritual journey of all something somethings … I don’t fucking know. I’d make some shit up about him reflecting the binge drinking culture or something.
I’d wrap it up with another statement about what the film is and the message it carries:
“Alcoholism is rife because it’s the only drug which is not only socially acceptable but is actually socially EXPECTED. If you don’t take heroin, cocaine, speed, acid, hash or ketamine – no one thinks any less of you (depending on who you hang out with). Don’t smoke? “Good choice, I’ve been thinking of giving up myself.” Don’t drink? “Why? What’s wrong with you?” It’s the only drug you have to justify not taking and I want to make a film which … blah, blah, blah”
And then finish it all off with some punchy tagline:
“LOCK IN – every man’s dream is this man’s nightmare.”
But something good, for a script I’ve actually written and which actually makes sense.
And … yeah, that’s about it. That’s how I write my writer’s visions (all two of them) … hope it’s useful.