So both scripts are kind of finished. Both films are really into production: Sam’s script needs one minor tweak near the end, and Rich needs a little more threat.
The fact I can focus on just two scripts without feeling guilty is interesting. Other scripts are being made, other films are starting to come together.
We were in Plymouth at a session led by Natasha Buckley. Well, I was an hour late because I had a blow out, but by the time I arrived Rich (who is replacing Keith due to other commitments) had already fitted himself in wonderfully. In fact, he was introduced to me by a few other members of the group…
The session was using a few acting exercises to examine confidence and creativity – the old chestnuts of teamwork (build the highest tower of paper) as well as some interesting exercises – linking arms to prevent others from joining, unless they ask nicely.
Having edited on linear and non-linear equipment, as well as playing about with 8mm film as a kid, I know enough to know I know nothing. I have always ever only just scratched the surface.
I know a little of the art – when things feel wrong, when scenes are just a bit too long. An example in the scriptwriting session was about each edit in ‘The Full Monty’ having a millisecond shaved off it, turning it from a funny drama to a comedy.
Pete Snelling came in and had a look at the two scripts. He spent the morning looking at Sam’s. He really liked the story, saying it was solid. It just needed to be dirtied up, made a bit more life like: The writing equivalent of the uncanny valley.
We are documenting the experience of the Tor Project. By us, I mean Keith, Sam, Kate and Alan, who are all at Bridgwater College (as students or Lecturers). We are making two films and developing our professional skills.
Kate Leys has worked on ‘4 Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘The Full Monty’ and more. She describes her job as a scriptwriter as being to ask those stupid questions other people thing are just too stupid to ask… ‘But why are they doing that?’
She talked for about six hours (without hesitation, deviation or repetition). Every second was gold. We analysed ‘Shrek’ and I saw it was about Johari Window – and actually, most stories are – the main character always discovers something about themselves they didn’t know. It’s the point.
The main thing to remember is that we need to tell a story. And any story, to be interesting, needs a beginning, a middle and an end. And it needs to be big. It needs to come from somewhere, and go somewhere.
The example was given of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. What does Indianna want? The ark. Why can’t he have it? It’s lost. What is stopping him? Nazis. What does he need? The love of a good woman. He is useless throughout the film: The opening sequence sets that up – he sets off the traps, gets chased by the bad guys, and loses the thing he was trying to get. Things only go well when he has a woman’s help.
However, the biggest lesson was at the start: no one knows what makes a good screenplay. It just reads well. There is no formula, there is only that little voice in your ear that says “hold on… I’m lost. What was the point again?”
Listen to it. If the script reads well, it should work. If the script doesn’t read well, it will be crap. You cannot polish a turd.