Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Five more drafts: You must be crazy

"Five more drafts? Are you kidding me?"
That's what I'm saying in my mind as I get notes on "Pink," my first feature length screenplay.
I'm already thinking about pitching Hollywood types and he says five more drafts. An array of emotions rush through me: disregard the notes, you'll never finish, I guess I'll stay in debt a little longer.
I bite my tongue.
" 'Little Miss Sunshine' went through 99 drafts," I'm told as encouragement.
Why does everyone know that? It's meant to help writers through the slogs of rewrites, edits and updates, but to me its just depressing.
Clearly, I've never been through anything like this.
My last page 1 story for the newspaper changed little before publication.
Five more drafts, really.
Does that mean I won't be done in time for "Pitch Fest" at the Screenwriters World Conference in August?
Unless you've got a well-connected agent, doing what I'm attempting to do requires not only a great script, but the marketing moxie to get it into people's hands. There is no point in writing a killer script, if nobody is going to see it. As such, in the weeks of lag time while I've been waiting for feedback on my masterpiece version 4, I put on my producers cap and started percolating marketing ideas, talking to potential investors and putting things in motion.
The Sunday evening conversation capped what had already been a huge week for Pink.
On Monday, evening a group of 15 actors read the script aloud (a table read) to help me listen to the story to see what working and what's not.
Then on Tuesday, the CFAA advanced writers group "workshopped" the script dissecting it for character development, flow, engagement, clarity, the whole nine-yards.
Both of these processes are well worth your time, for anyone who thinks they have a completed script.
I left both of those engagements with substantial notes on areas the script could improve but also the reassurance we're on the right path.
Let me not leave the impression the CFAA notes were all roses either. They offered serious reasoned notes, but suggested there was significant work to be done.
By Thursday, I've processed those notes and had some idea of what needed to be done.
But Sunday, I was like the hiker who just realized there are a more switch backs and a stream to traverse before the mountain assent begins.
Sometimes its hard to find the traction I need. Here is the partial blog post I started Wednesday:
The road before me is enormous.
So enormous sometimes its hard to know what to do first.
Should I spend time on the script tonight? Should I have gone to The Comedy Spot to watch my old Harold improv performers? Should I get back to the marketing/business plan?
For the record, home from work, I spent an hour flipping around between EPSN, Anthony Bourdain's Part Unknown, and a brief stop to see what's on Access Sacramento before spending a good hour and half re-reading "Producer-to-Producer" by Maureen Ryan.
Now, here I am writing a blog post. 
After the phone call Sunday I was trapped in a vortex. I wanted to think about something else, but Pink, the notes and what comes next was all I could think about. I watched "Olympus Has Fallen" to cleanse my mind. Still not ready to move on I watched "Lovelace," the biopic on "Deep Throat" actress Linda Lovelace. I didn't love how they told the story but it's a powerful and enjoyable film. Like Pink, Lovelace is a sexy period piece that says a lot about repression. After looking up its box officer numbers, I added it to my list of comparable movies.
That night as I lied down for bed trying not to think about my film, the answers in forms of new scenes that play to the same theme and bring the secondary characters into tighter focus jumped into my head and started dancing.
Fuck five rewrites. I can do this in three.  

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