Friday, 20 November 2009

Big Apples

I'm in New York. Hurrah. This year it's just mainly for a holiday. But as luck would have it, the International Emmys are this Sunday so I thought I would swing by, see some old friends, and meet my worthy Ustinov successor, Clare Tonkin!

I'll report back on that and more from the festival next week.

I'm back in London on Dec 1st so won't be reading scripts until then. But I'm happy to take bookings for when I return. Contact me as usual on jezfreedman"at"

A couple of thoughts in the meantime. I was listening to an online shiur the other day and bizarrely got some of the best screenwriting advice I'd heard in ages.

The lecturer said that if you don't understand something or if something is just not working for you in your thought process - ask more questions. That may well lead you to solving your original problem.
Secondly, if you have a single problem, and then think of a solution, that may or may not be right. But if you have several problems, and then think of one solution that solves them all - it will very likely be the right one.

Thinking of screenwriting - how true is it that if something is not working, be it structure, characters, whatever - if you dig deeper, ask more questions, look at other areas, very often you will find the solution to your original problem.
So to that if you have many things that aren't working, sometimes one idea - to cut the opening, to combine two characters into one, whatever it may be - will very often solve all your problems. That sense of economy is what screenwriting is all about.

As I digest everything that arose from the DOUGH script meeting earlier this week, one thing that really became the motto was narrative drive.

There were scenes and indeed whole sequences in the script that both me and Jonathan liked, and were equally convinced that John would like because of their visual, cinematic quality, only for John to quite rightly come along and say well yes, they look nice, but how are they moving the story forward?

Answer is, they weren't. And this led to a lack of focus and a 10-15 min story lull which now needs to be cut. The knock on effect from this is that it allows us more breathing space and screen time to develop some things that were crucial to the story, but are actually underdeveloped at the moment.

One solution solved about three problems.

Have a good weekend.

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