– 3 min –
Well, that didn’t take very long.
When I shared this momentous event, that I started writing my very first screenplay on a screenwriting group on Facebook, one guy commented amongst other very kind things ‘this will be your bootcamp’, which was also meant kind, but also very true. And somehow I immediately knew and envisioned what that would mean. Diving in, feeling incompetent, not knowing what you’re doing, not remembering anything you learned from books you’ve read, classes you took, getting ‘dirty’ and asking yourself what the heck you got yourself into. And you thought you were ready for this.
Day 1 was great. I wrote down everything that had been lingering in my head for a long time. I took one of the ideas I had written down long ago that I wanted to develop, I sort of had the main character, the situation he got into and that they wanted to change that, changing back to the old situation. It felt like a pretty good start. I was happy about my first day.
But then on day 2 I already felt like Private Benjamin, you know, the movie with Goldie Hawn. Hey, see, you HAVE remembered something? You have a feeling and you are referring back to a character in a movie you saw. Trying to give myself a pep talk here.
Why wasn’t I moving forward? On day 1, I just dove in and started writing sort of a treatment (which in hindsight wasn’t a treatment, but the main story idea), but with some scenes and dialogue, to get it out of my system, because it had been singing in there for a long time. Then, as I was trying to move passed the what would probably be about 10 minutes in the film plus a montage sequence, there seemed to be nothing coming out anymore and I couldn’t figure out why. So, I thought, it must be the story. So, on day 2 I shelved it and picked up another idea that I had had and started developing in my head while I was biking on the way to an appointment and while waiting for the appointment I started to write that one and it went like hot cakes, I was very excited. But then the same thing happened. I got a bit further with this one, I had a more general overview of the whole story, but it wasn’t going deep enough. I didn’t know why they were doing what they were doing apart from very superficial reasons. I kept asking ‘but why are they doing that’, as I want to see in every film. I want a character motivation, one that I can relate to. And then it dawned on me: I didn’t know my characters well enough. I had not developed them enough. Who are they, really? What drives them? What motivates them? Why are they doing what they are doing? Who are their parents? How did they grow up? What are their core values, their personalities? How did they get to the point where they are now, before the inciting incident? Without that, it would become one of those, pardon my French, superficial crappy event-packed-all-about-the-visuals Hollywood movies and I can’t write that. My system simply prevents me from writing that, hence being stuck.
Alright, alright. So, I thought I could just dive in and figured I’d be ok. But I guess all the lessons from the books and classes I had gathered had sunk a little deeper than I thought. After all, it had been about 1,5 years ago since I last dove into the topic of screenwriting really, apart from all the great tips and advices I had been reading on the screenwriting group on Facebook in the last month, stirring me on to finally just start writing.
So humbly, at the end of day 2, I picked up the Screenwriter’s Workbook from Syd Field again, that I had started to get into, after his first book Screenplay, but had laid it aside, due to lack of inspiration at the time. I thought, I have a story in my head, I want to write that first, I don’t want to dive into the characters first. But then I realized it does all begin with them. Ouch. The first bootcamp pains.