Week 23-24 04-17/07/2016 # Eating, Sleeping, Drinking, Swimming In Screenplays

– 5 min –

Greetings from the ‘Mothership’! All is well on board and the weather is good. The food is tasty, a little monotonous however: evening, morning, noon, there is only one item on the menu. You guessed it: screenplays. Although they come in different sizes, they all look pretty much the same. Some harder to digest than others. Especially when you’re not familiar with a certain kind yet and every sentence being new. My fellow passengers are all from different kinds of boats, some more equipped and experienced than others, but we speak the same language: screenwriting language. Ok, that’s not entirely true. The some more advanced ones sometimes try to entice others to get into more complex conversations, which is then quickly put to a halt by the captain, not wanting us to occupy ourselves with that at this stage and focus only on what is on our plates, without trying to dissect it too much, but first recognizing what it looks like, learning to eat it and describing what we’ve been eating. And some passengers are already anxious to start cooking themselves, not seeing the point of this phase yet, but wanting to (continue to) try to make things, without properly knowing how to use the knives yet or thinking they know enough. I, on the other hand, and many others with me, am not in a hurry. We obey the rules and eat what we are served without protest.

Ok, now off the record. Secretly this ship is called Labour Camp, not Immersion, I’m telling you! I checked. The word Immersion is freshly painted over something else. My guess, right before it started picking up the first strays. Of course, you only find that out, after you’ve been taken on board and you’re settled in somewhat and you really don’t want to fold just yet. Not as the first one anyways. No one dared to say they highly underestimated what was presented to them, even though you know most of them think it. In the papers you signed, it said that you would only have to do labour one hour a day. Right. In what universe was that? But slowly we all open up about the intensity of it, I can’t remember if my comment was the first, but I indeed asked the captain if this ship’s name was actually Labour Camp, but changed to Immersion for marketing purposes. I really did do that by the way, of course with a wink.

Now, all jokes aside and in all seriousness, it is GREAT here. Really. Yes, it is labour intensive and taking up more than one hour a day for most of us, simply because we’re all trying to wrap our brain around this new thing, this new regime and trying to fit it into our normal day schedules. And for most, I’m guessing, also figuring out, at least I do, when is the best time to read and write, since I don’t have a normal work schedule at the moment. And I am an evening person. I don’t remember when studying psychology, when in the day I actually did my homework then or felt in the best flow. I do know and this I rediscovered a few weeks ago, that I LOVE movie soundtracks or film scores they’re called and having them play when studying and it was the best thing to listen to while studying. Calming, relaxing, yet inspiring and as if all the words you were reading were pouring in with much more ease and stuck much better too. I think it occurred to me, when I was going to a film event a few weeks ago, with a masterclass about film scoring and with a quiz as well, so I started listening to movie soundtracks again, while doing my homework, also for Immersion and then immediately fell in love again, being reacquainted with all those great scores and composers. I did very well on the quiz by the way, because I had been drinking them in again. But I digress completely now, I think. Or maybe not, because the film scores so tap into my love for storytelling and increase it by every note, going to my core. And I realize that film is indeed a complete art form, with writing, pictures, movement, speech, sound and music all coming together in one medium, in one product, the movie. And every element enhancing the others when done well. And all serving one another, when done well. The power in that is immense. An unexpected rediscovery.

Now that I am eating, sleeping, drinking and swimming in screenplays, I wonder why I haven’t done it before. Some have been doing it already, and although I had seen samples of screenplays in books, I actually never really read any full screenplays, I have to confess, even though so many people have said it on the screenwriting page on FB, that that is one of the number one things to do, when learning about screenwriting. Perhaps I underestimated the power of it or had no clue what that would do for me at the stage I was at, focusing much more on the stories itself, trying to develop those, trying to come up with stories, storytelling and not yet focusing so much on the actual screenwriting and in that format. Some part of me was also afraid of it, I think. No, really. Because it looked like yet another set of rules to learn, especially looking at the format and not in all screenplays being exactly the same and me then worrying about that, wondering what is correct then. All of that is now taken away. Because I don’t have to learn those rules or try to figure it out all by myself. Here is someone who is saying: just read the screenplay, then write a synopsis of it and the logline and what you learned from this particular screenplay. And we’re hand copying one entire screenplay as well. The thing is, without realizing it, you are hardwiring your brain to adopt screenwriting, as a new language, as I mentioned before, because you’re busy with it every single day.  So, you learn as you absorb it. I can honestly say already that I know exactly, well, mostly, what a screenplay ought to look like, formatting wise. What action lines look like, what name lines look like, dialogue lines, scene headings, and where spaces should be. Also when to capitalize a character in an action line. How to introduce a character not yet identified to the audience. How to write simultaneous dialogue, when two characters speak at the same time. And all of this without using software, but simply by hand. But also, and this is more about the content and the structure, recognize more of the important moments and the plotpoints and when comparing it to the movie, what is left out and you can see why (this latter thing I already studied more often, always watching the extra’s on the DVD’s, where they show and explain the deleted scenes). So, major results I am experiencing already. And we’re only a little 2,5 weeks in! Can you imagine the anticipated results after 6 months? Move over Aaron Sorkin, William Goldman! Ok, not William Goldman. That man is a legend. Even if I ever get to his level, I will still keep him on a pedestal.

I decided to have an ‘official’ summer break for the DIY film school by the way, like any other school, so I don’t overload myself with too many things and have a nice break, like one should when doing school and/or work. This doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally still read some things concerning film, because I find it relaxing anyways and it giving me energy. My own screenplay in the making is not on a summer break, but developing more in my mind somehow from all these screenplays we’re diving into, giving me all these new ideas. And apparently it is the goal that at the end of this 6-month course, we will have written our own screenplay. So who knows, it might be this screenplay.

Alright, enough on this ‘postcard’ for now. Back to more eating, sleeping, drinking, swimming! I will aim to do another update in two weeks.

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