As I mentioned in my last post, I had finished my main job of caring for adults with special needs. I still have my other jobs and producing the indie feature MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING (MAT.) Here’s a LARGE victory with MAT: We’ve reached 551 views of our full trailer in about three weeks! We just feel so incredibly blessed that there is such a response to a movie featuring a guy with special needs and a campy zombie obsession.
So… I’ll address the elephant in the room of my terrible picture and curious title. It’s to admit that I’ve plateaued with my writing. (My writing that hill in the background.) Ugh. How the hell did I get here? It’s actually very simple: I’ve spent years “chasing the page.” Right. But what does that mean to anyone besides Holly? Maybe this is clear except explain mine to be sure. Here’s also a link to my Dog Theory post since we all can have such different meanings to the same words.
I digressed on this idea with voluminous paragraphs going into great detail on the steps that I’ve taken in my quest for the “perfect page.” But I won’t torment you all like I have done myself. So… Here’s a summary: I read numerous scriptwriting books, taken classes ranging from one day to an entire Master of Fine Arts, read tons of scripts (I read 100+ in 2021 alone), judged in writing contests, and written hundreds of writing pieces in various forms.
People say that you’re not supposed to admit to the number of projects if you haven’t “sold” anything. There’s a difference between selling stuff (I’ve done this plenty) and getting stuff made. I’m sure that many can relate. My thoughts on this idea about keeping my project numbers secret? Folks advocating this don’t understand writing in that it’s something that you continually work at because it’s ever-evolving. I drive myself crazy with constant new ideas and/or building on my existing ones for I write every single day even if it’s just five minutes. It’s not perfect except that’s how I can manage it with my life.
But I’ve been so damn hung up on writing the “perfect” page. It’s also driven me bonkers except it’s the reason that I plateaued. Hmmm… A great example is my directorial debut. I had many rounds of feedback and rewriting until I felt that it overall worked on the page. As my actors rehearsed, I felt that my words “worked” for the purpose of my story.
And then during production… We shot my big dialogue scene. I felt a pit grow in my stomach because I recognized that scene was far too long. My first round of editing reinforced this because I cut the scene in a way that gave equal weight to my two main characters. This caused the scene to “feel” even longer because there wasn’t space for reactions with looks, breaths, movement, etc.
Why are reactions important? People respond with more than just words in real life. I then recut my scene to have room for reactions and more breathing time. The outcome? It “felt” shorter despite the longer run time than my first cut. As I have the short in the festival circuit, I won’t post the different cuts here. But I will do that with another project soon where I will go more in-depth about all of that.
My solution to all of this? Those shorts that I’ve been writing about in my posts. They’ll give me the chance to see how my words translate in production. My quest will no longer be just about the page for I’m moving onto the next step: See how my words translate in production and the final product. I bought my own camera, sound equipment, and lights. I’m also learning to edit in iMovie, Final Cut, Premiere Pro and soon with Avid. Here’s a link to my Vimeo page where you can see my editing attempts. I’ll also be doing a deep dive into After Effects and eventually Resolve.
None of my equipment is top of the line. Some of it is used. It’s all “good enough” to help me understand the process. The other aspect to it is that none of it was uber expensive. I’ll also write about my other steps in the coming weeks. If you feel that you’ve plateaued, I also suggest seeing what your writing looks like in production. I took the steps of getting the bigger equipment except most cell phones have their own cameras. Entire movies have been shot on cell phones. Both Resolve and Avid have a free version of their products. This is if you want to dig in deeper.
If you want to warm up to the idea of comparing pages to a finished product, I suggest a variation on my exercise of 61 pilots in 61 days. I ended up doing the 61 pilots in 63 days. It could let you know that even professionals don’t translate every single word on the page into the finished product.
You’re welcome to reach out at hollysorianoblog at gmail.com if you have any questions or want to explore this further.