Day 4/Step 4 - of writing a movie/pilot with Mozz.
Happy Friday Everyone. I am running late on my post. My writing morning was taken up by a good chunk of just reading about Jeff Bezzos's cock pics and how it will take down a presidency. (PLOT TWIST!)
Today is Friday and you should have a title, a logline, and some 300 words on your project.
The next step is crucial to me. And Armistead often accusses me of spending too much time on it. Because we are on research or world building mode or both.
If your story is based on fact/history, this is where you go off and start researching. But the reality is that for the next couple of days you are going to get very specific about the world in your project.
When and where does it take Place? what is the environment like? the politics. The time period. (I have had to write two scripts for different producers set in the 70s back to back, I'm pretty much an expert on the 70's now!)
Think of how precisely the screenplay for Children of Men built its world. When a character speaks it sounds so real to that world.
I used to play Dungeons and Dragons and then fell in love with Pathfinder. And I think my gaming years have helped me incredibly in building worlds. I want to know the history, the locations, the important places. The name of the corner bar and what it looks like. The lay out of the apartment.
Also knowing your world helps you set the tone of your world. Is your world the snappy action driven Indiana Jones or the bubbly 13 going on 30?
BECOME THE GOD OF YOUR WORLD. Know that world inside out. Know the system of that world inside out. If you are writing about a journalist stopping a conspiracy, don't wait until you have a question about what a journalist would do in that situation, figure out the rules of a journalist's worlds.
Start imagining locations, homes, a story in New York is going to Look different than one in China, one in LA or one is Tennessee. the minute you question where your world takes place the better. I am almost always attracted to movies that take places in worlds that I don't know anything about. I rather see a film about bank robbers in Wisconsin, than ones in New York. Because NY has been used over and over again. But man, Wisconsin, what kind of desperate world does that bank robber live in! You may come from an interesting world. I come from Newark, NJ via Puerto Rico. (I need to write more stories set in those worlds.) However, I did love the world they built for Ocean's 8. I thought the stakes for the film were low, but the world was pretty fun, and the lay out of how things went down. That was all because of the world and character building.
I tend to collect a lot of pictures about my world.
Then put your characters in that world and know where they fit in that world. A character must know her place in that world before she seeks to change that world.
I start with my protagonist. I answer all the questions about him or her. From what they look like, to what music they listen to, what they do for a living and why? Their most painful memories as a child. Your character in the film begins way before the film starts. As a matter story, your film starts at the last possible second in which that story can be told. But your characters they have had a life. Treat them that way.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY - WHAT DO THEY WANT? AND WHAT WOULD THEY BE WILLING TO DO TO GET WHAT THEY WANT?
You will be sketching out your character bios. I tend to brief character monologues based on a moment in their lives that is not in the film and sometimes, when you need a moment, that reveals that character that monologue totally influences the moment.
But get to know your main and supporting characters.
Here is where at last you will give them NAMES. which I discussed in the LOGLINE POST.
You are also going to start playing with themes here. What are you going to explore? when you decide on your theme, you will find yourself finding visual descriptions that will help move the story along. I wouldn't make any hard and fast decisions here. when you are writing the project a theme will reveal itself, and my strongest themes have shown up on the second, or third draft. Actually I am about to turn in a production draft of a film that was 6 years in the making. It is in the production draft that I finally hit on the strongest theme. But you get to start asking those questions now.
WORLD BUILDING is where you are going to write up a storm, most of which you will not use, but which will be necessary to tell the truth on the page.
Who was involved?
Where did it take place?
When did it take place?
Why did that happen?
for a visual medium the most important
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
and also, world building is where you can be DEAD WRONG. And when working on my projects I find that it is best to be WRONG A LOT at the beginning. Allow yourself to be DEAD WRONG now. It will save you pain and suffering and writer's block later.
I'm working on a script right now. And normally this will take a few days. So...
I'M GOING TO GIVE US ALL A WEEK TO GET THIS DONE. I'll see you here next Friday to go onto wow, some actual writing on STEP 5.
THIS IS ALSO THE PERFECT TIME FOR YOU KNOW GREG TO CATCH UP. OR for us to have a conversation below on film topics and shit.
Step 3 of write a script while Mozz does.
You are probably beginning to wonder. When does Monty actually write his script? To which I will say. FUCK YOU ASSHOLE! just trust me. Writing a screenplay or a pilot whether it's your first of your 20th, is fun, but it is a challenge. So I broke it into chunks for myself a long time ago. Some I stole from teachers, some I read in a book, but over the years I refined it to make it all very Mozzie.
I also hate writing alone. So I hope that you are keeping me company while beating out those loglines and character names. Believe me, there will be a day when all of this will make it to the front of my eyes.
Day 3 is pretty simple. First take a look at your logline and read it. I include my loglines in my morning meditations, really anytime I do a ten minute meditations, I will say my affirmation "Monty is sexy, successful and everybody wants him." and then I say the logline. That logline should be part of you, you should be humming it, affirming it, and sharpening it.
Still, some writing must happen today and you are going to up your writing by about 20 to 30 percent. At this point, I hope you have a notebook or a document. I keep a journal next to me at all times, cause as this goes along. The ideas will flow.
Remember when you went into Blockbuster to rent a movie and you decided which movie you were going to rent by reading the back of the VHS/DVD cover. (am i dating myself?)
That's how much writing you are going to do today. About 100 to 300 words. And a Tagline!
Taglines are so much fun for me. My favorite tagline of all time.
Young Sherlock Holmes - Before a lifetime of Adventures, He had the Adventure of a lifetime.
I don't know what it was about that tagline. But it was the motto of my life. It is the life I want to lead most of all. A Lifetime of Adventures, but oh my god, before that... oh, there's this adventure that sets it all off. That's what I want my life to be.
Holy fucking shit! Did that make me want to see that movie as a kid, and let's face it when you are writing, you are really writing it for some part of you that gets that thrill. Always write for that part of you.
so Tagline the movie with a little something that gives you a thrill.
And then you are going to describe it like the back of a vhs or dvd. (Hey, I have included, Nominated for 11 academy awards in my description) Fuck it, it's your story! And no one will see it but you. But thrill yourself with 100-300 words of your story.
It will feel incomplete, there will be so many holes to fill. (he he!) But just tell it. What you are doing is starting to make decisions on tone, and execution before you start making the big decisions.
The second way I write these 300 words is to pretend I call my best friend, usually Greg or Armistead and on a voice recorder tell them about this amazing movie I just saw. But I only have 3 minutes to do it.
Then I listen to what I have described and I start typing. Write without stopping and then go back and fix it, don't fixate on the first 10 words. If you start doing that now, you'll fixate on the first 10 pages, Then fixate on act one, then on the first never completed draft. Now, vomit it out, fix it later. You have the whole entire day.
OFF TO IT! (I gotta get mine done too)
74 Christie Street was my first American Address, moving here from Puerto Rico. I remember the small house, and the neighbors, the Portuguese family that lived above us (Maria Barca broke my toe in a tragic rope jumping mishap) and the mixed race young couple, and the first black man I ever met. His white wife had a way of always being angry with him, and he had a way of making learning the language rather easily, sitting in the back stoop, staring at the dead garden in the back, by which he would teach me a word daily.
The apartment was small, and I had no bedroom, back then, I slept in the living room. I suppose this is why I love my aloness now. My early life was a life of constant traffic.
Besides a few roaches, the apartment was bare of anything but a stove and the refrigerator that my father had gotten for the family. In the pantry, there was one book, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.
The softcover curiosity was black, with what appeared to be a protruding woman’s face and a single drop of blood dripping from its lower lip; and the tagline, “a town possessed by unspeakable evil.” I had no idea what that meant.
And it was through that book that my journey into English began. I remember how I would keep the book hidden between the couch cushions of the couch that doubled as my bed, and when everyone went to sleep, I would sit there with a flashlight and a Spanish to English dictionary; taking me days to do a few pages, word by word. Even more so because the work had to be do in darkness, and because Mark Petrie was approximately my age. Mark Petrie was my first American friend.
The horror of that translation paralleled the horrors of my immigration story, leaving a safe, beautiful island, swimming in the rivers after school, the lushness of the Puerto Rican plant life (who itself carried its own monsters.) to the soulless empty parking lot that was Newark, NJ.
In my depression and solitude, I doubled down on the book. I had to get to the end of the chilling tale, and I must grasp its meaning. Through this novel, I got my first lesson of what America was, a country in constant battle with its demons. I also fell in love with the story-telling medium.
I recently read Salem’s Lot again, and it was just as exhilarating as the first time. The action scenes were much more effective, of course, now they moved at the speed they were always intended to and not at every three words per translation.
Then there is Ben, Ben is also a vampire, an emotional one that drains the life out of love. He’s in such need of love, as a writer, as a man, that he would latch on to anyone who gives him just the little bit of attention and then, well, then they end up dead.
That Mark Petrie is not dead at the end of the book, well, it is because that relationship had barely started when they set the woods ablaze.
Finally, I’m going to call out Ben and Mark on one inhuman action, when they ran, they didn’t stop by the church to pick up Mrs. Curless, Father Callahan’s secretary, she was praying at the church. No doubt, the woman would be safe and could leave on her own accord, but something about abandoning a woman of God in a town where she would no doubt be entombed in the only place that was safe, made me feel incredibly sad. A Puerto Rican would never do that, those praying ladies are the things that keep us alive.
This edition of the book came “with previously unpublished material and a new introduction by the author.”
Came with two stories, One for the Road, a terrifying little story that takes place shortly after the events of the novel, which let us know that Mark and Ben’s actions did not stem the growth of darkness, but it is the story Jerusalem’s Lot, that really excited me. This short could be its own movie, a period piece King Tale that I would be excited to either adapt for the screen or direct, all on its own.
It was that story that kept me up at night, for several nights. I have read it three times, and delight on the way it scares me. Sending me back in time to that little boy, learning English by reading the Master of Terror.