Day 7 - Step Seven
Today will be it, the last easy day before you dive into outlining, carding and writing. Today will be the last day you will have the day to yourself.
By this point, you have gone from title to beginnings and endings, and it's taking you longer than 7 days, because you had an entire week of world building.
By this point, you are either still writing and excited, or you have tested out the concept of your film by doing the early parts and reazlized that you don't have enough story and just stopped.
It could also be because 1. The concept is not turning you on enough to do the work. 2. If it's not making you run to the page with excitement and anticipation, why write it? (I may add that you want to attack all of life this wake, if it's not making you run to it with excitement and anticipation, why are you still doing it? living it? being about it?)
TODAY YOU WILL BE WRITING what I call a Bridge Scene. A scene in the middle. Either 12 words or the entire scene, sketch it out, write it as an outline, whatever makes you happy. But you know this scene exists cause you've already fantasized it.
I like to call this one my "Oscar Scene!" or my Pivot Scene, the scene in the middle of a film where the story pivots in the direction of the ending you think you are going to have.
Do it. Tomorrow the hard work starts.
Writing a screenplay with Mozzie. DAY OFF:
I will write on Sundays. No doubt, I will either take notes from a draft that needs loving and do about two hours of work from 5am to 7am.
But the rest of the day, I give it over to GOD. (Or Good Orderly Direction if you do the Artist Way, or Alistair as I like to call him on him days, or Adisa on her days, Adisa in African means. I am grave, or I speak gravely. Bryn on they days. God is everything, but sometimes I like to address them depending on the particular dilemma I'm facing. as in, Damn it Alistair! sounds much better when I have a boy issue! When things are tough , Adisa and I, we have some compasionate words. etc. etc. )
Anyhow! wow, completely off topic today. One of the things I will do however, is read a script in bed tonight. that I admire and mine it for educational purposes. (Alistair, Adisa and Bryn know I'm single I so I won't be having sex, but we'll have a talk about that in private between the four of us.)
For this purpose. I have put two scripts on my blog, you can go and download or read on screen. BLACKKKLANSMAN - which is a gorgeous read. Really a revolution on the page. But also 146 pages, long, which you will be told. Don't do. It must be 110 pages, and I will always say. The story needs to be the length it needs to be. I am about to send out the production draft of a script that came out way too long, so I am using this as an example of why my script should be too long too.
And one of my favorite tv pilots of all times - ALIAS - Truth Be Told. If you wanna read a script by JJ ABRAMS that feels like you're right in it. This has been one of the most instructive scripts of my lifetime.
Have a beautiful Sunday!
Alistair be with you, and also Adisa, and also Bryn!
Day 6 - Step Six
Writing a screenplay with Mozzie.
Today is going to be another easy day. Because the process of structuring your story takes time, it will make the actual writing of it go by in a flash.
Today, you are going to write the very last scene in your movie, or pilot. The last image, the last scene, it can be 12 words, or it can be a fully sketched out scene.
It will be the last movie of the scene.
Why do I do this?
1. Because if you don't know where your race ends, then you don't know where you are going.
2. Everytime I have set a writing ending goal, I have overshot it, It means that i will know where i am going, but around page 27 of my screenplay the characters, if you'd done the work of getting to know them, will start making their own choices, and it will be the exciting fight you will have with them, you will want to take them to this ending, they will want to do things their way. (Yes, I'm serious, characters do that!) and somehow, you will get a better ending to your film than you've ever imagined.
But first you have got to know where it is that you want to go.
As in life, if you don't know where you want to end up, you are just letting the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune decide your life for you. The same with a story, and if you are the god of your story, then decide early how you want things to end.
Believe me, the ending you will get to will be magical. And It will look nothing like the ending you will come up today. But making that decision, will give you a roadmap, a goal, and allow you to fight to get there, changing your characters along the way, and getting to the ending they were meant to have.
DAY 5 - STEP FIVE
writing a screenplay with Mozzie.
So you have had a week to build your world.
You have characters with bios.
They have objectives.
You know the world of your film/pilot.
You have spent the week filling out those details. (As I have)
Or you can just totally say, SHIT, I forgot I got homework due Today.
Anyway, whichever camp you are in. You should be able to catch up, because Today's assignment is super simple.
Today you are going to write your opening image/scene. Don't go into the next scene. There's something that comes before to the next step.
But I find that writers at some point want to write. So I am giving you permission to write, with as much detail or it can be just 12 words. The opening moment/image even sequence of your film, and fill it in with as much detail as you wish. Stop if it takes you to a second page.
So you see, today is super simple.
Do not write the next scene though.
I just want to get you writing something after a week of just planning out your world.
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)