Thursday, December 28, 2006

10,000 Bad Drawings - The First Screenplay

So, some of you... who am I kidding...

One lonely guy with nothing better to do during the holidays sent me an email asking about my first screenplay. His keen eyesight and moderate reading skill caught the minor detail that the screenplay I am forcing on production companies is the second I have written. So he asked:

What happened with the first? Did it get turned down? Did you get to talk to agents?

No. It did not get turned down.

No. I did not talk to agents.


Because it SUCKED!!! And I knew it.

Just to shortcut all of the emails that will flood in... Or just answer the one rebuttal email I ~~might~~ get (doubtful), I'll answer.

My GOAL for my first screenplay was to simply see if I could write 90+ pages.

That's it. It wasn't to sell it. It wasn't to make a million dollar sale. It was simply to see if I could do it. Oh yeah, there was an addendum: To write 90+ pages in screenplay format.

I did okay. There were a few decent scenes in it. A few mediocre characters. Zero plot. But I learned a lot.

It was called A NOVEL ROMANCE about a sexually deviant romance novelist who runs into an ex-camp counselor from his youth. He falls madly in love with her, but can not muster the ability to have sex with her in the same machismo manner as his other conquests that he writes about in his romance novels.

The story goes in and out of reality and the fiction of his romance novels. Something only Michel Gondry would want to touch with an eighty foot pole.

I later read Chuck Palahnuik's, CHOKE, and was, like... ummm... he wrote what I wanted to write only cooler, more coherent, and edgier.

That was the final nail in the coffin for that script. The story was uninteresting and better mastered in the work of others. I also used Voiceover - poorly, Flashback - poorly, tried to write the script with a "low budget" in mind, and substituted gimmicks for story when I would run dry, which was quite often, considering I had no idea what I was doing. But, I accomplished what I had set out to do. Write a 90+ page screenplay. And LEARN from the experience.

If screenwriting is craft, like Alex Epstein likes to believe, then everything leads to the mastery of the craft. If it is art, then the same applies. Practice has always made perfect in art.

Me, I grew up on comics and cartoons. There's a quote from the great Chuck Jones that talks about how he learned to draw. His father noticed that he had a proclivity towards drawing, so he would bring home stacks of paper from his work. With the paper he bestowed this piece of advice:

We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us that have to come out before we can get to the good ones.

I am a firm believer in 10,000 bad drawings.

1 comment:

Emily Blake said...

That is the healthiest attitude you could have. Every newbie pummels agents with queries about their first script and their first script is always crap. Including me.

Good for you for being smarter than the rest of us. You might want to wait until you have number 4 or 5 done, too.