Day 12 17/02/2016 # A Screenwriter’s Brain

– 3 min –

There is a saying in Dutch that literally translated means: you are contaminated by those you spend time with. And without realizing it, my thinking is changing into what I will call ‘a screenwriter’s brain’. And it feels similar to when I took an editing course, not the software, but in depth course about the history, rules etc. Then, when you’re watching a movie, editing is the only thing you look at. But this faded after a few months and didn’t feel this strong. I still look at the editing now, but more on command, when I want to focus on it. And subconsciously I still notice it of course, you can’t help not to. But this experience with screenwriting is new for me and feels deeper, stronger. But who knows, it might fade into normality again in a while.

I was sitting in the park, enjoying the winter sunshine and a older man sat down on the same bench. He started up a conversation about the weather and such and because he spoke English, and we’re in the Netherlands, I asked him where he was from and so he began to share his story. And an amazing one, from when he was young, becoming a circus acrobat and the many adventures he had had. Granted, he was a gifted storyteller, you could tell immediately, and surely he has told his story before, but as he was sharing his story, my brain immediately started to think about how would I tell this story in a screenplay, which of his events was his inciting incident, the pivotal moments. And I kept asking for what happened next. And when he sort of skipped to another time in his life, I wanted to go back to an earlier time, because I had not gotten the answer to the question WHY he took the next step. At some point he settled down, married and had kids. But he didn’t tell me how he got to the Netherlands and how his travels had ended. And until I knew that, the story still wasn’t whole in my mind and I wanted to get it whole.

I was a bit startled by this discovery, it felt like a tipping point. No longer was I looking and listening to people and their stories, even their daily events as simple stories, but I was thinking how can I integrate that in a screenplay, all of a sudden possible characters everywhere. And when watching a movie or TV show, I think ‘what is their secret, their fear, their desire’. What do they want? And how do they get there? Oh boy. But it’s practice as well! Surely this is a normal thing at this stage. But I do hope I will be able to turn it off as well a little, maybe when you’re not busy trying to write a story. Maybe it’s the same as when you’re looking for red shoes and all of a sudden you see red shoes and focus on red shoes everywhere. Sort of.

It is also nice, I have to admit. Because it means it is becoming part of you. Something you didn’t think of in the beginning. Like when I started baking 3 years ago or so. I didn’t have a clue about the ingredients and what they did in the recipe, their contribution. And when I read a recipe, I had to reread it many times. But now, when someone is telling me a recipe, I find myself remembering it easily by heart, because I understand the basic ingredients and what they do. I LOVE that! And now it’s happening with this as well, she says modestly. At the same time I am also wondering whether I am ruining my love of stories and motion pictures for good with this, you know, taking the craft apart and understanding how it’s done. Will I still love the product once I know how it’s working, how it’s done or should be done?

This is my dilemma. And the choice between 2 good things, or is it bad things? Do I keep enjoying it as a spectator, however with the strong longing of wanting to do it myself, already for most of my life (and do something else, but then what?) or do I, as I am doing now, dive in completely and love it and perhaps succeed or ruin my love for it for good, because I know too much. Tough choices. A great theme for a movie too. Because most difficult choices are not between good and evil, but between a few bad things or a few good things. The so called ‘impossible choices’. A Robert McKee lesson. Something we all relate to and are the real dilemma’s in life, aren’t they.

Have to keep this last thing in mind as well for the screenplay.

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