SCREENWRITING ON A MOBILE PHONE

SCRIPT WRITING

A few tweeters have sent me messages about writing. I am no expert, but this is how I do it. How it works best for me.

When I write a script, I never sit down and start writing. I always think about the concept, outline, characters, scenes, themes etc.  I never used to do that, but when I didn’t know where I was going, it meant I would spend a lot of time trying to fix drafts that did not really work.

So I never start writing the script until I more or less know where I am going. Although there is still plenty of room for the unexpected, changes, but I still like to have a structure.  However, the way I write can be even more hazardous in another aspect.

MOBILE PHONE WRITING

iphone

I speak all my ideas into a mobile phone microphone/recorder for a few weeks. As I go for a walk, food shop, whatever. I let myself daydream that way. I don’t recommend this to everybody, as it can be dangerous! Why? I have nearly been taken over the bonnet of cars while in the middle of a scene in my head, or I have came back from shopping with Banana’s, when I went for shoes! Threw the dog a brolley, instead of a stick!

I have also walked into a few lamposts and people in my time. I mean what a twat! I am not very cool, but cool is overated! Someone has asked me the time in the street, and I give them the directions to Ben Nevis!  I get so caught up in my story, that I don’t even know where I am walking to half the time.

Why not sit in front of a desk like a normal person? I can do that too. But on the move in your head really lets you completely focus on the script. No distractions at all. I also flesh out natural dialouge this way when I walk. It helps when trying to get the way people talk, not the way writers write. Have you seen some scottish soaps, people talking like robots!

I use the phone with the recorder, because before this, it looked as if I was talking to myself. One person saw me talking to myself in the park one day. I was writing, talking out a highly emotional scene, and they asked “If I was ok?” I said I am a filmmaker without a budget, I will never be ok, but thanks for asking! I even had tears but I was not upset. I was just so into the scene I was creating.

After that, I got the phone, because it looks as if I am talking to people, doing deals, arranging meetings, organising flights! All that shit!  When in reality, I had no friends or contacts left for years, so I am making up my own fantasy life!  Very very sad. haha

Anyway, Working this way works for me, so thats why I write this way. It feels much more natural. When I see my characters on the screen talking, they don’t look as if they are saying lines. It looks as if a lot has been improvised in this latest film, and some of it has, but most of it was also written. Kinda the way Gervais did “The office”. That was all scripted.

Sitting in front of a flashing cursor on a laptop does not inspire me to daydream. I used to look out the classroom window and daydream of more interesting lives when I was a kid.  So I guess this is where it comes from. I am a dreamer, doer, and an accident waiting to happen!

So if you see me walking and talking in the street on a mobile, there is a good chance I ain’t talking to anybody, I am writing a screenplay. If I am emotional, shouting, then its either a charged scene, or maybe I really am on the phone to my debt collectors. Either way, it’s drama that is going on!

INDEX CARD

indexcards

After I have about a months worth of notes, or even a few months, I can then place all the scenes on to index cards, and pin them to a few cork boards. It gives me an idea of structure, and timing. This will let me see if I have too many or two little ideas for scenes.

This part might seem very biz like, but the previous way of writing with my thoughts is so free, kind of natural, it then makes sense to get more biz like about it with this structure. So this laying out the cards works well for me.

WRITING THE SCRIPT

screenplay

After this, I then write a first draft very fast. Usually about 10 pages a day. 7/10 days for 90 pages.  Only if I have done a lot of thinking, taken a lot of notes first. Went over a few cars! Quite simply because it is more or less already written previous. Its just getting it on to to the page now.

I don’t think it’s good to spend too much time on a first draft after you have the outline fleshed out well. Simply because it is going to change a lot in other drafts, so no point in getting it too detailed, precise in a first draft. Just get the paint on the canvas, then start playing around with it. This works for me.

ps. Excuse bad grammar. I give myself a short time span to write blogs. Redrafting would be a luxuary.

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FAST FOOD MOVIE MAKING!

mcdonalds

I lost a budget last year at the 11th hour for my horror flick that was set to shoot in Los Angeles. More about it at my “film Journals“.  I had developed it with my own money from corp video work for two years.  I was left so broke, that I needed any job fast to pay the rent. Within 48 hours I was empting bins at Mcdonalds. Glam movie business!

macdoanlkds

(The Mcdonalds I worked at, until recently. Still from phone camera)

I have juggled unskilled jobs my whole life, so that was no big deal. But losing a £500,000 budget was tough. Incy Wincy Spider! My Mcdonalds badge said I was “loving it”  My face said “fuck off I shouldn’t be here!  However, I have absurd optimism, so I just plough on! I was not starving, dying of cancer, so I was not down for long.

NO BUDGET MOVIE MAKING

Ironically, after a few years of being stuck in limbo after securing and losing budgets for various reasons, I kick started my career again among leftover McFlurry and unhappy meals!  I have now completed “MISSION X“, and have 10 companies between UK & Hollywood interested in other projects, but I am dedicating my life to building my “creation to consumer” brand for the time being.

So whatever shitty job you are stuck in, you are not trapped if you want something bad enough. I have learned we trap ourselves. When you hit the bottom, it either kills you on a slow burn, or you become much tougher. I went into Iron Man mode. You want something bad enough, you will get it. I woke up to that fact that you can make a movie on a day job budget, with a little beg, steal, and borrowing. (legal of course) We have no excuses.

NO RULES!

I reminded myself that Tarantino worked in a video store, Kevin Smith made a movie about the general store he worked in, and Rodriguez moved into a drug clinic to kick start a career. Thats what I love about this business, there are no fucking rules! Even though the industry will try and convince you otherwise!  Nobody really knows shit! If they did, most movies would not be bad.

When you have funded your own movie, it also means you control the vision for it 100%. I never got enough control on my first movie, but at least I would on this.  I would also own it, so any sales could fund future development, festival trips, and pay the rent. I might even get lucky and have a hit! Either way, I would be “doing” and not “dreaming”

TOP DIRECTORS FUND THEIR OWN FILMS

Its not by coincidence that some of the top directors in the world funded their own flicks from peanuts. Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids) funded El Mariachi by volunteering for drug tests for cash.  Chris Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) funded “Following” with £10,000 from corporate videos.

Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) private funded the $50,000 PI. Kevin Smith funded the $30,000 “Clerks” budget from credit cards. Sam Rami, Kubrick. The Coens, Peter Jackson, and many more good and bad filmmakers done the same. They didn’t wait for permission to be creative.  So self funding is nothng new, but thats not my point.

UK FILM INDUSTRY/COTTAGE

One of the reasons we don’t have an industry is because we have sent out the wrong messages to filmmakers here for years. In the US, some dudes get a camera, a few actors, tiny amount of cash for a genre flick, and create a career. They might be artists at heart, but they also create genre horror/thrillers to make investors some money back too. Which in turn turns them into “movie makers!”

In the UK, we have an unhealthy preoccupation with winning “awards”. I am not attracted by this biz to get back slapping awards all the time. You want that, be a fucking sprinter! I want to make movies for movie fans. We take ourselves so fucking serious in the Uk, it takes the whole “fun” out of this biz. You got a burning “cause”, cool, make a documentary, write a fucking blog, start a human rights campaign. Just don’t drown me with the films “message”

NO BUDGET APPRENTICESHIP

Pulling off a movie yourself to show the industry is the best apprenticeship you could have. Making your own film will teach you EVERYTHING. If you are handed a lot of money at the start of a career, it does not encourage you to be inventive, entrepreneurial. Solving problems with money all the time is not beneficial in any way.

DIY at the start also instills a passion, drive that never leaves you. I have been around filmmakers who got funding at the start, and they don’t have that edge, fire in their belly. You need that, because like it or not, each new project is an uphill climb to secure finance. In the indie world, or Hollywood. Or even self distribution.

MASTERCLASSES, GURU’S, TEACHERS

I am not a fan of preachers, guru’s, life coaches, so called Experts. Anybody can pull out motivation quotes from a book, or teach theory, but actually pulling it off in the real world is another planet! It’s better learning from other filmmakers that are “doing it”, then go do it yourself. Schools teach you about 5% of what you need to learn.

TARANTINO: DON’T GO TO FILM SCHOOL!

DO IT!

Since I made this small flick, lots of industry doors are now opening. That proves its not about securing budgets at the start. Just “do it!” If interested, watch me over the weeks, months, years, and see if my way works. Or laugh at me falling on my ass! Either way, I am going to make sure it’s fun. I would rather fall on my ass, than sit on it!

Thanks for reading

David

PS. Next blog posts will be Twitter style size! Short and sweet. So please come back! haha cheers