Friday, February 24, 2006

Draft 3 completed of Heist!

Apologies for not being as diligent with my blog posts. Work has been crazy and my kids have been sick, but still, I've managed to squeeze in enough time to complete a second and third draft.

Based on feedback from James on my first draft, I'd incorporated some new changes and twists. I also included what I felt was a more satisfying showdown between two of the principals. While it still fell a little flat, both James and I felt as though we were on a much better direction. I think that the latest draft fills most of the holes. However, I still think that we'll need another draft or two to clean things up and get the dialog in shape. I finished the new (third) draft and sent it to James tonight.

I also managed to find time this weekend to work on a screenplay that I'd put on the back burner for the past year or so. I had about 65 pages written of it. It's a kids movie called "Rescuing Champ". My daughter gave me the idea for it. She was tickled that I've resumed work on it. I managed to get most of the way through the draft that I'd been working on - did a bunch of clean up and changed some of the plot a bit. I don't want to say too much about what it's about just yet. I don't have it registered. Once I complete it, I'll post a synopsis.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Good feedback from James on the initial draft..

It was funny because when we talked about it, it was almost as if I knew what parts were going to fall flat for him, and I was right about most of them. He was right to tear apart what he did, and it was great because it challenged me as a writer to develop solutions that would hold up to his standard. As a result, I think we have a story that's quite a bit better than I'd hoped for already.

I've only managed to get through a rework of the opening this weekend. Not because I'm at a loss of words - more so a lack of time. I had a request for a synopsis of another of my screenplays over the weekend from a company called Andrew Lauren Productions in New York. ALP is the production company that brought us "The Squid and the Whale" which I've not seen yet but hope to soon. It would be great if they followed up with a request of the script based on the synopsis.

James bought a new camera - the one that we'll be using to shoot Heist. Its the JVC GY-hd101E. It's HDV, so the resolution is better, AND you can use different lenses with it, which is cool. I'm very fired up about it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Heist script is finished!

Well, I at least have a completed draft.

It came in at 101 pages. I think there's some trimming that will get it down a few pages. I may even discover that entire scenes can be removed.

For now though, I'm just going to wallow a bit in the satisfaction of having completed another feature length screenplay. I've sent the finished draft to James, and though he seemed pretty happy with the first 75 pages, I'm prepared to deal with the fact that he may not like the ending, but as I've said before, that's not a tragedy - there's a lot of ways that it could have gone, and I tried to pick the one that provided some emotional satisfaction, a bit of redemption and a fresh start for one of the principals. We can always rework it. I'm not scared of doing that at all.

This is the first film where I've tried to delve heavily in the development of themes throughout. It was fun and I think that it helps provide a richness to the story.

There were a few thematic elements that I feel good about that go with the film that carry across all the characters. The one of the heist for example is one that carries across just about all the principals. The main characters all seem to be looking for a quick solution to a problem which they're solving or planning to solve through some nefarious means.

One of the other themes that I play around with a bit is this notion of something being right under your nose that you're completely unaware of being there. Still another, is this idea of how seemingly simply mistakes or actions can result in situations that can dramatically change the entire landscape of a situation - or someone's life.

There are other themes that I play with - themes with dialog, etc. and I have to say that it was a great exercise as a writer. Whether or not I pulled this thematic development off remains to be seen, but I have to say that I did enjoy it.

Regardless of its success, it was a great exercise. I'm pretty confident that whatever might be wrong with it can be fixed. I feel that I've created some strong, well defined characters. While it is every bit a crime/suspense/thriller it's also an interesting character piece on a number of levels. Still, it will be interesting to start getting the outside views on what I've done.

So the plan is to get notes back from James, incorporate those, then have my initial review by my "English major neighbor" friend. She'll do all the clean up work on it grammatically, look for good structure and provide a good initial set of story basic story and structure notes.

Once these are incorporated, I'll send the script out for its first coverage report, which I may decide to publish parts of in this blog.

Work on planning and pre-production will hopefully will pick up considerably from here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Another productive weekend...

After some much needed support on the direction that heist is going in, I could hardly wait for the weekend to arrive so that I could write.

However, due to commitments that I had elsewhere, I could only get a few hours in. Fortunately, that translated to lots of cleanup and almost 10 new pages for a total of about 75...

Where at one point I'd been worried about being able to stretch the story to 80 pages, I'm now wondering if I'll be able to get it in under 90. I don't think that will more than 90 though, 95 max.

A good friend and supporter of various projects of mine over the years, Dave (don't want to mention full names until I check with him) has agreed to help with the firearm education, safety and selection for the film. He's a certified NRA safety instructor, film enthusiast, gun collector and all around great guy to have on your team for just about any project, film or otherwise so I really look forward to working with him on Heist. Having Dave will really help bring the production values to a new level. Not that there's a ton of gun sequences, but what's there will look real now - no question.

James is on his way back home to Perth Australia now. He'll be back in May.. I'm hoping to wrap the script soon so that we can start preproduction work.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Positive feedback from James on the nearly completed draft of Heist.

I sent him the 66 pages that I've completed. I waited pretty impatiently for him to get back to me with his thoughts. When I finally saw the first line of his email response (which was "You bastard! How could you leave me hanging like that!") I felt that I was on a good track. :)

Of course, he's still waiting to see if I can pull the ending off. As he put it, I seem to have "just the right number of balls in the air" but he was also quick to point out that I could still screw it up. I'm abundantly aware of that, but even if I do a crappy ending the first time out, its not a tragedy, that's what rewrites are for.... :) The timing on the ending will be tough, so I expect some rework - especially with all the details that are involved.

All the things that I've so far been concerned about; authenticity of the characters, pacing, overall story, holding interest, etc. all seem to be right where they need to be. So that was good, and has encouraged me to dig into it again this weekend to try to complete it.

I have been chipping at it in bits at night, but I'll need at least another 10 solid hours of dedicated time to complete it.

I was inspired yesterday by the success of another Robert Rodriguez disciple, Roger Ingraham. Roger produced and directed the feature "Moonshine" which was an official selection at Sundance this year. The report that I heard on the news last night said that he was 22 years old. In his interview, he said that he'd produced the film for about $9,200 and that included a car crash scene.. When he said that he'd read "The 10 minute film school" by Rodriguez, I couldn't help but grin. It was so great to hear about someone who has applied these low budget techniques with such great success. They mentioned that Miramax and New Line Cinema had requested private screenings at Sundance.. The memorable comment from the interview was "The hardest thing about the project was just deciding to do it." :)