The First Draft

It’s been over a week since I wrote those long awaited last two words ‘The End’ on the first draft of my script and leaving it alone proved to be as difficult as being trapped in a room made of bubble wrap whilst wearing giant sponge hands. However, I resisted the urge by watching some films, starting a new book and focusing on trying to put the story out of my mind for just a little while. This last task proved near impossible as this project has now been at the forefront of my mind for almost six months.

Anyway, when the time came to re-read, I found myself doing two things; one, because I hadn’t really stopped thinking about it, I was already mentally making improvements and two, having started to read Alexander Mackendrick’s ‘On Filmmaking’, I was now becoming wrapped up in intrinsic aspects of scene building I wasn’t aware of before and that I knew in large areas my script might be lacking. You can imagine the outcome – I read through my script at speed, tutting, frowning and being over all rather despondent at the outcome. 

With a couple of day’s hindsight on this, I really shouldn’t have been so overly critical of myself. IT’S ONLY A FIRST DRAFT – IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE TERRIBLE.

Well, ‘terrible’ is probably too harsh a term to use. It was a long and drawn out exercise, but has left me knowing more about my story than I did before. I now have a better grasp on what works, what doesn’t and what needs to be changed in order to work.

Having completed reading the first draft, I did two things. I re-read Elliot Grove’s chapters of scene writing and dialogue and read what Mackendrick had to say on the art too. Grove breaks down scene’s into handy charts that let you carve out what you require from your scene – whether this be what the goal of the scene is, who is in conflict with this, how this might be achieved and are there any twists that can make the scene more interesting. Add to this, note taking on characters moral point of views and character essays and it allows you to shape these scenes through the actions and voices of your characters – which is what good screen writing is all about.

Mackendrick, although offering very little in the way of practical advice, does offer some words of wisdom:

“Remember that scripts are not so much written as rewritten and rewritten and rewritten… So plunge ahead regardless. Don’t wait to get it right, just get it written.“

– ‘On Filmaking’, Alexander Mackendrick.

Rewrite two has begun.

And as for films I’ve watched, I was recommended this wonderful short, directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp entitled ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’

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