Monday, March 2, 2009

On Screenwriting

As some of you know, I write screenplays. I also write stage plays and musicals, but there is something about the screenplay. It makes story telling relatively brief - novels can take hundreds of pages, but a screenplay is best at a neat 100. The prescribed rule is three acts: beginning, middle and end; introduction, substance, denouement. And unlike a stage play, where one is limited to what is physically possible on stage, anything can happen in a screenplay. Modern film technology makes literally anything possible.
Unlike many other younger screenwriters, I didn't take classes on screenwriting - I learned as I went along. My first was ridiculously long (almost 200 pages), though my second came in at just 110 pages. Regardless, I have sold one screenplay (to a Canadian production company which went belly-up soon after - the rights reverted back to me) and recently had a nibble on another, while a third actually made the Top 1000 in the final Project Greenlight contest. The interesting part, to me, is visualizing the movie in my head as I write it. Will the (hopefully) eventual director envision the same thing? Well, that's kind of the idea, if I've done it right.
I tend to write Horror movies because I love them, grew up on them and know the genre better than most others, though I have written an Action picture with Sci-Fi themes and a rather bizarre Buddy Comedy about a playwright who is car-jacked by a magician's assistant on the run. Many of my ideas come from dreams I've had - it's very scary in here, folks - though some come from real-life. I keep a dream diary by my nightstand and try to write down all the best ones. Sometimes, what I've written in the middle of the night makes absolutely no sense in the morning. Sometimes, I bounce ideas off my sister (most recently I had a dream about zombie werewolves - don't ask - and she had some great input for me) or friends, many of whom think I eat too late or watch too many movies (as if such a thing were possible). Mostly, I write for myself, though I do hope to one day see at least one of my scripts produced.
My very first screenplay was about a film crew making a horror movie about the Jersey Devil who discover their subject matter is very real, after all. It was too long and over-plotted and even my most recent re-write is quite obviously an early effort. But I was encouraged by several people in the business to keep trying. And so I do.
And here (via) is why:

Do I want to win an Oscar? Sure, who doesn't? Will I? Probably not, but that's not the point. I just want to tell stories and maybe entertain some folks (and myself) along the way. Oh, and there's that whole "writing is immortal" thing. I mean, it isn't likely, given my age and sexual orientation, that I will have children to carry on my legacy. So, look out Lance and Diablo. I'm gunning for your spot in 2010. Or 2011 or 2012.
More, anon.

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