I’m just plodding along at the moment, trying to get a re-write finished. It’s bloody painful, nothing’s flowing and nothing I’m writing is actually any good – I really am just stumbling towards the end with the intention of making it sing the next time through.
The problem is it’s a complete re-write which still has to have all the elements people loved about the last draft. Basically I’m dropping a different version of the story around the same characters and a lot of the same dialogue, which is a bit weird.
It’s not like taking the same characters and putting them in a new story (almost like a sequel or a different episode) and it’s not like keeping the story the same and replacing the characters with better ones – it’s keeping all the scenes with the heroes interacting with themselves and changing all the ones where they meet the villains.
The villains have changed characters and swapped motivations and gained new backstories – the heroes have always been spot on from the beginning and the way the talk and the things they say are crucial to the script’s appeal.
It’s a bit like taking Star Wars, keeping all the Farm, Cantina, Millenium Falcon and Rebel Base sequences, throwing out everything else and trying to weave a new story around what’s left.
In my head, it should be easy – I have these shining jewels of scenes which I just need to get to – as soon as I get to the next scene I can skip on five or ten pages without re-writing a word …
But it doesn’t actually work like that. Instead I’m finding the ‘fixed’ scenes need tweaking to fit. The plot’s coming into them from the wrong angle. It’s like threading beads onto a piece of string – you have to make sure the holes all line up and at the moment they just don’t.
On top of that, it turns out the perfect, saved scenes are actually chock full of exposition I no longer need. The budget’s been greatly expanded and it’s now possible to show all the expensive stuff instead of starting the film just after it finishes – so there’s absolutely no need for the characters to talk about it.
Except the bits that still aren’t clear – so I’m combing through each scene, extracting the best lines and the needed exposition and trying to build new scenes around those fragments.
Even the fight sequences can’t stand as they were – sometimes there are extra characters in the room, sometimes one or two might be missing – so everything has to change.
It would be easier to junk the whole script and start from scratch but that’s not the brief – it has to feel like it’s the same script only much, much better.
And it’s driving me fucking nuts.
I’ve been working on this on and off since September.
That was last fucking year!
I haven’t been doing it continuously, of course. The problem is people keep waving money (or at least more inevitable money) at me so I get sidetracked onto other projects. This particular project will (theoretically) pay me more than everything else I’ve written in my entire career combined … which is exactly the reason why it’s the least likely to happen.
A low budget film is one investor who fancies financing a film so he can boast about it to his mates.
A higher budget film needs a lot of people digging deep and expecting a return. The bigger the outlay, the more nervous people get and the less likely it is they’ll actually hand over the money. Since the majority of the money comes on the first day of principal photography I have to work on the projects most likely to go into production.
And even they’re not guaranteed.
So although I’ve been picking at this since September – I probably haven’t managed more than a week or two’s work in that time.
Which causes another problem – expectation.
If I knock something out in a week, I can claim I rushed it. That’s why it’s crap, not because I can’t do better – I just didn’t have time.
Six months down the line? It’s got to be a work of fucking genius … and it’s not. At the moment it’s extremely pedestrian and just … wrong.
I just need to get to the end, just keep plodding on – get it all down and then tidy it up later. And I am getting there, but fuck me am I not enjoying this?
And the less fun something is, the harder it is to concentrate.
I just spent the afternoon naming my T-shirts and arranging them in alphabetical order.
Anyone need any hoovering doing?
Fuck it. Back to work then.