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Making my first feature…Part 2: Procrastiwriting

April 11, 2012

As I mentioned in first post, I co-wrote a film called Love Reason and now we’re trying to produce it.  Hooray!

[About 1/3 of it has already been filmed and we’re currently in the middle of an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funding to finish it.  Every little bit helps; even that five bucks you have stashed in your car for “emergencies.”  If this isn’t an emergency, I don’t know what is.]

Over the next couple weeks I’m going to share my experiences working on Love Reason and what I’ve learned from them.   Click here to read PART ONE:  Let’s Work Together.   Now, on to the second part…

 PART TWO:  Procrastiwriting.

Deadlines.  Ha!  I laugh at your face, deadline.  You don’t own me.  I can move you back a week and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Travis and I had a few conversations about how we wanted to handle the script.  He had an outline and a few scenes, so the blueprint was already there.  But early in the process we slipped into the habit of dismissing deadlines.  It was bad cycle that we got into that went something like…

  • Monday:  We can probably finish Act I by the end of the week.  No problem.  Plenty of time.
  • Tuesday:  Work was crazy!  No time to write.  Plenty of time the rest of the week, though.
  • Wednesday:  Work, not so crazy…but there was a new Modern Family and Happy Endings!  I still gots time to write later.
  • Thursday:  I almost wrote during lunch, but someone suggested Chipotle for lunch.  Do I really want to be the one asshole who’s in his office writing while everyone else is deep throating a 1,500-calorie,  foil-wrapped flavor torpedo?  Nope.  I can write tonight…
  • Friday:  I wish I would’ve written last night, but my stomach hurt for some reason…  It’s been a long week, I deserve a break.  If I write for 24 straight hours this weekend, I’ll still be ahead of the game!
  • Saturday:  Who writes on Saturday?  Besides, my dog deserves to go to the dogpark.  He had a rough week, too.
  • Sunday:  Writing day!  If I write for an hour, then I get to play PS3, right?
We got some writing done, but not at the speed at which either one of us were proud of.  I normally operate at maximum procrastination, but I’m not normally this bad when I’m working with someone else.  With our powers combined, we created Captain Procrastination.  Another problem (which turned out to be related) was the fact that there was a bit of miscommunication about certain aspects of the script.  I made assumptions about what he wanted, he made assumptions about what I assumed…  We had apparently skipped a step in the process.
Although we talked about the script and there was an outline, we didn’t physically sit down and go scene by scene.  What’s the purpose of this scene?  Why is this character in this scene?  We thought we knew everything we needed to know, but we were mistaken.
We met a few times at Cracker Barrel (Momma’s Pancake Breakfast, eggs over easy, bacon, side of hashbrown casserole) and talked in depth about the script.  We went over the outline (shown below, and yes that is a primitive penis drawing near the bottom of it) and talked about each scene in detail.
I like to put all the notes into a Final Draft document:  For each sequence in the outline, I’ll add a scene heading and below it I’ll write what needs to happen for that part.  Sometimes I’ll add a few lines of dialogue, sometimes it’s as vague as “Weird stuff happens with a stuffed bear.”  And as I write the actual script, I’ll just add to that master file with all my notes in one place, guiding me along…
Once we got over that initial hump of excuses, delays, and assumptions, we fell into a nice groove and we found a system that worked.  What was that system you ask?
…to be continued…

Lesson Learned:  When working with a partner, the most important work you can do is before you even start writing the script.  If you’re not on the same page (literally and figuratively…and I supposed metaphorically) on day one, you’ll spend twice as much time rewriting.  Be clear in what you plan to write and never ever assume anything.  And even in this digital age of email, Dropboxes, texts, Twitter, and Google docs, don’t take for granted a good ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversation.  There’s nothing quite like eating pancakes at 10 pm next to a diabetic teenager in her Tazmanian Devil pajamas, while breaking a story.*

*Based on actual events.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 20, 2012 6:44 pm

    The whole scene by scene thing is something I’ve found I have to do for myself, or I won’t get anything done. Or if I do, I’ll end up lost in the woods a week or two down the road. I’ll be writing a scene and think “Now, what was the point of this scene again. I know it’s important, I just can’t remember why…”

    Great read. Can’t wait to read part 3!

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