Monday, July 17, 2006

The Wrong Write Stuff

Back home, the one thing I was looking forward to was continuing re-reading James Ellroy’s The Cold Six Thousand. A hardback edition, it’s a 600-odd page brick. Having to take the external hard drive off with me, there wasn’t room for the book as well.

Of course now that I can read the novel, with a book proposal to put together, there are other books piled up on the edge of the desk that need my attention instead.

In the meantime, Work Buddy and I are waiting for a short film script that a pal is writing and wants our help in the making. One of our circle of drinking buddies, our Short Film Writer would go on about this script he was writing, promising/threatening to show us each time we met. This went on until Work Buddy stepped up and said: Okay, let’s see it.

After about a month or so it finally turned up. We read it. We made notes. 20 pages of notes for the 40-page script. I missed the meeting when the notes were presented to our Short Film Writer. Instead I had to catch up with the Designated Author. From what I heard, SFW expected a few comments on the material before knocking some back. Instead he faced scene-by-scene, sometimes line-by-line comments.

Finally he went off with our material, ready to knock out the second draft.

And that was just over two months ago. And we’re still waiting...

We heard from SFW that it was almost done. We heard from SFW that it needed to lose ten pages.

Why it needs ten pages gone, we don’t know. Short films are like short stories. Given the restraints it needs scenes that are right, rather than less scenes than a normal feature.

SFW told us the descriptions were better. Which is nice. Nothing about the plot or the dialogue being ramped up a notch or two. Which... well, we’ll see. I hope to be hopeful.

Back in the distant past I was writing a script for a stop-motion animator who had won a competition that gave him the funding to go off to Germany for a year and make a short film.

Maybe its because English animators are used to working on commercials, producing 25-odd seconds of pretty pictures before the pack shot is slapped on the screen. There has to be a reason why most of the ones I’ve encountered have had such a slim grasp of narrative.

They get caught up in the pretty pictures and think that will satisfy the audience. I catch more than two minutes of their abstract shit and want to pour bleach in my eyes.

Working for The Animator, I can’t remember how many copies of the script I went through. They’re in the back of one of the filing cabinet drawers never to see the light of day.

Being pre-internet, scripts were faxed went back and forth from here to Germany. I would get notes from the animator saying “You have to incorporate this set!” Why? Because he had built it already.

The Animator’s way of editing the scripts was to lay out the individual scenes and rearrange them into a different order. When he eventually put the final scenes first, I accused him of being a premature ejaculator. Instead of building to a climax, he came straight away. Which didn't go down well.

I gave up and got out while I still had my sanity. He made a different film altogether, went on a self-improvement course and turned into a major league arsehole.

Find your own moral to this story, I’ve got work to do.


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