Monday, January 11, 2010

The Writing Week (Vol. 3) part 106 – Developing a New World, and Reassurances

Friday evening was a good end to a long first week back at work. Gretchen, my producer, was on the east coast for the week, and we had a conference call at the end of the work day with the production company that’s developing my script with us. I invited Gretchen to take the call with me at my office, since it would be quieter, and as we had made tentative plans to meet up anyway, it would give us more face time.

One of the main things I’ve been curious to know is how writers get a producer credit on their films. One of the writers Gretchen’s worked with in the past managed that, and he didn’t have a ton of previous credits to his name. Apparently, it’s easier than I would have thought, with the main deciding factor being a commonly added clause in a writer’s contract, as negotiated by his/her lawyer. That’s probably putting it in layman’s terms, but it was reassuring to think that this is doable, even for rookie writers. (I’m getting way ahead of myself, I know.)

Anyway, we jumped on the call, which was really one of the most painless ones I’ve had. There were very few notes coming from the production company, and a lot more enthusiasm about the script. The executive developing it is really stoked to see more pages, which I hope to have soon. Gretchen had some issues with the second half of my Act Two revisions, but we hashed out a couple solutions, which I think are helping a lot. I was wondering if the excitement levels surrounding the project had cooled off over the holidays (and before), since it had been nearly a month since our last call. Friday’s chat was incredibly reassuring, even invigorating, in how much enthusiasm there was.

During the call, one of the main things we discussed was the world that I had created. Obviously, since the entire concept calls for a massive, Armageddon sized disaster, the setting has to be quite different from normal, everyday life. For the most part, the executive was pleased with what I’d done. Still, during these ongoing rewrites, I continue to think about how best to establish a new world. The classic way to convey necessary information about a new reality is through newspaper clippings or footage. This can be done really well, at times, but it can also be out of place. In my story, it’d be out of place. Exposition can also be great; yet this, too, runs the risk of failure if it’s too on the nose or basic. As much as I love CHILDREN OF MEN, I can’t deny that some of the dialogue is too explanatory for people who have been living in those conditions for 18 years. That info is clearly just for the audience, and therefore not as well delivered as it could otherwise have been.

This weekend, King Suckerman and I went and saw DAYBREAKERS, which I used as a bit of a learning tool. While it won’t go down in history as one of the best vampire movies ever made, I do have to give credit to the Spierig Brothers for adding a lot of creative elements into the world they created and for giving us the info we needed easily right up front. The film reminded me a lot of what Gretchen kept telling me – “put yourself in the world and try to think of how people (including yourself) would react.” Daybreakers has a lot of great little tidbits that make the scenario (vampires comprising the majority of the population and human blood running out) fun and grounded. Even examples such as UV warnings in cars and day-driving capabilities that tint out windows completely enrich the world and help root you to it. This is what I have to do with my film (or make sure I am continuing to do), and it’s what any writer has to be aware of when creating a new world.

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