John August was interviewed on Making Of, where he talks about adaptations and choosing projects.
“My favorite genre of movies are movies that get made.”
Something you and I have in common, JA. 🙂
Well, that’s it! We spent a couple more hours beefing up some scenes, fixing some final typos, and tweaking the formatting in Final Draft to bring us in at a perfect 100 pages.
As always, we’ll continually refine the text… we’d like to keep looking closely at the dialogue and left margin, to assure we’ve got just the right verb here, just the perfect turn of phrase there… but it’s braces on a pretty smile… tiny incremental adjustments.
Thanks to our readers for all the great feedback and encouragement. Now we’re off to find some good horror screenplay competitions, get it in front of a few good people in Hollywood, and find a producer who wants a fun, classic horror story with a unique twist — The Descent meets The Birds.
Total man hours: 115 (chip) + 105 (sean) = 220
As Sean and I worked side by side most of the time, total linear clock hours: 125
Total calendar time (since we couldn’t get together as often or for as long as we’d have liked): 11 weeks
To see the blogs that chronicled “the writing of”, click here.
We’ve spent the past few days polishing the script… folded in much (but not all) of the feedback we got, fixed the typos, found some new words that sounded more better.
Still very pleased with the first draft, the structure overall. The polishing is putting that final sheen on it, but it really isn’t getting what I’d call a “second draft”. Don’t think it needed it. Is that hubris? Could be… time will tell. It is after all a genre movie, and it was pretty carefully outlined as such before we set to writing, so we had a clear structural target from the get-go.
Important changes: Continue reading New horror project: the polish
Well, it’s been a while since this series has been updated. We’ve had a series of illnesses, a wake to attend, a short road trip (to attend said wake and then to forget about said wake), some storyboards for a music video to get done, and on and on.
But now we’re back at it.
We did hear from the InkTip lead that was looking for just this kind of script: It was a no-go. I suspect that it was largely a budgetary concern… they wanted to make a movie for under a million dollars but our script has heavy CGI, a house that burns down, another building that blows up, and lots of gunfire. Chances are the synopsis alone told them they couldn’t afford it. Just as well… I think the script deserves more lovin’ than that.
We did get feedback from two more readers (here’s the first set of feedback). Reader C called for a little more back story and a little more humor, but overall:
Great job … I think it is ready to rock.
Reader D was very positive:
GOOD FUN! I would really like to see the movie. Excellent gore levels. I particularly enjoyed the character depth and the complex relationships… Thank you for having strong female characters that are actually friends and not having it become a big jealous catfight over a guy. That is so tired. Overall, it was awesome and fun. I’m impressed.
So the feedback overall is solid. Both readers suggested a small amount of additional back story to help explain the Crazy Old Lady’s history with her missing father, as well as some small clarification on the two female leads relationship… this is similar to what we heard before.
We’re folding in many of the minor suggestions people have given us, and expect to have it ready for primetime within a week.
Thanks for following along!
Finally just watched this film, as I’m working on a script that (I was told) might bear some resemblance to it (not this one).
I’m happy to say that it doesn’t.
What a terrible film, in so many ways. I don’t like to go on and on, but just truly dreadful writing, the performances are ham-fisted (but perhaps only because the players had so little to work with), the editing is clumsy.
A representative example: The guy is obsessed with the girl. He is excruciatingly boring to her. The girl has left her address book at the guy’s house. The guy is driving her to his house so she can retrieve the book. The two pull into the driveway. We must show that the drive has been miserable for the girl, and heaven for the guy. So the guy says:
Here we are at the house, Helena. I’m so glad I got to tell you that story… in such depth and detail. I’m really sorry, Helena. We’ll find your book.
Really. He really says that. Oh my God.*
There is simply no trust that the audience will give enough of a shit to even remember from moment to moment what is going on in the story, or who these people even are. So her name (Helena) is repeated every few seconds; we are told that we are arriving at the house (even though we are seeing a shot of them pulling up to the house); rather than hear the tail end of the story and trust her expression, he exposes to us that he told a long story (and in excruciating detail); and then they remind us why we’re at the house at all (to find the book). It’s a fucking radio play for alzheimer’s patients.
It is a good example, I suppose, of what was probably a terrific idea on paper (and a terrific logline – “An obsessed surgeon kidnaps the woman of his dreams, removes her arms and legs, and makes her his prize possession”), and could have been a terrifically twisted film, but clearly needed a rewrite. Someone needed to say “Hey, this has promise. The story’s all there. Let’s get someone in to polish the dialogue so the characters don’t play like shallow schoolchildren and then let’s make us a movie!”
Oh well. Now I’ve checked it off my to-do list.**
Well, we’ve gotten feedback from two of our first-draft readers so far.
It was great!! Wow. You guys really put some work into this piece and it shows. Excellent job on many levels … I was intrigued, involved and enjoyed the ride. Felt like a mash-up between Gremlins and The Descent. I don’t think you’ll have any problems getting the right people behind this script!
Of course I lead with the most positive points, and leave out the dumb things he said like “make it better” and whatnot. 🙂 Seriously, he gave us some great feedback, pointed out the weak spots, gave us direction for the second draft but overall, the review was pretty positive.
I think it’s a great first draft. No real notes on structure, some scenes need to be a little more kinetic though.
Somewhat more reserved, as you can see. This reader is an asshole, obviously, and doesn’t realize just how groundbreaking this script is. Continue reading New horror project: feedback
Spent a few hours today tightening up some loose ends on the first draft.
Gave the dog some more face time.
Figured out how we could keep the spray can of bear piss, have it still be relevant, then when to get rid of it.
Wrote a new stanza for the Victorian poetry book that explains some of the creature’s mythos.
Toughest thing was that early scene that we’d skipped… a flashback/fantasy sequence that demonstrates the old lady is living in the past, fixated on her father. We’d finished the beginning and end of the scene but were unsure just what events/dialogue needed to be in there to communicate the two points we thought the scene needed to communicate. It was a deliciously creepy scene that we loved, but couldn’t put a bow on.
The longer we struggled with it, we decided that if it was that hard to decide how the scene should say what it needed to say, maybe it didn’t need to say it. So as hard as it was, we CUT the scene.
45 minutes later, an epiphany, and we realized how we could simply and elegantly, with 3 simple passages of dialogue, do everything we needed to do, PLUS foreshadow some later existing points. Luckily, I’d copied it off to WORD and stored it so we pulled it up, made a few changes, and put it back. SO happy. It’s still creepy, still a favorite, and now is perfect in content as well. The whole thing only added a third of a page.
TOTAL PAGE COUNT: 93.5 — or 97.5 — or 99.8 — depending. (Good ol’ Zhura)
So here we are, with a (pleasantly readable) finished first draft in just:
Sean’s got about 88 hours.
96% percent of those hours we worked side by side, so that’s man hours, not clock hours. Clock hours we’re at about 95.33.
Full time 8 hour days would put us at about 12 days to complete this first draft from story outline through last word.
Of course, we worked an average of probably 3.5 hours a day, and not every day. So we’ve used about 6.5 actual weeks to get here.
Copies are now out to our favorite readers for some honest feedback. We hope to live with it for a week, read our hardcopies, get notes from others, and jump on the next rev in about a week.
Till then — WOO HOO!
So far less than perfect. I’ve still got niggling problems like whole portions of the script (a dozen pages or more) suddenly and inexplicably becoming BOLD, or the startling LAUNCH of my cursor back to page ONE, or the uninvited random insertion of ACTS while typing.
Speaking of page count, good ol’ Zhura made things more complicated than they needed to be again. While working in EDIT mode, the script appears to be just about 93.5 pages. In VIEW mode, it appears to be the same (a change from earlier in our experience, where I swear there was a differential between the two).
When printed to PDF, we ended up with 97.5 pages. This sucks if you’re trying to use the EDIT or VIEW modes to in any way guesstimate how long your script is.
Just as a goof, I exported the script from Zhura as a TEXT doc. Then took it into FINAL DRAFT. In FD the script is nearly 100 full pages (99.8).
So clearly, somebody’s wrong.
UPS: Totally web based. Simultaneous login allows real-time remote collaboration. Notes features. Upload projects from a variety of applications.
DOWNS: Wierd random buggy glitches (see above and here). Uneven page count. No text search or search-and-replace.
So Zhura, while free and largely pretty cool, is nevertheless proving to make me very nervous about trusting it with my work. At the very least, I’m going to end up always taking my work into FD to do final polishes if I’m going to have any real sense of page break and page count.
Wrote for about 7 hours today.
Finished 11.5 pages of sheer craziness.
Another man dead… this time sacrificed to the beasties by someone else.
A building destroyed in a massive explosion.
Two survivors with a gun in each hand run a gauntlet of creatures.
The lead beastie confronted.
And escape for our heroes.
Plus, we save the last dog.
We reached the end of our story. 92 pages.
It’s not quite done… there’s one scene we purposefully skipped early on around page 30 that we need to go back and fill in. Just one page, if that.
And a few loose ends… in our fervor to muscle through the action sequences, we neglected to clarify where the dog was from moment to moment. He deserves some lovin’, so we need to sprinkle in a couple references to him.
And somewhere along the way the old lady suddenly was no longer carrying her spray bottle full of bear piss. We have to decide whether she just loses it somewhere, put it in where it’s missing, or just remove it from the story all together. I like giving a character a spray bottle full of bear piss, so I’m hoping we find a way to keep it.
But all in all, it’s DONE (with an asterisk)!
Hours (chip): 89.5
Hours (sean): He says he’s around 85.
Another 6.66 pages today. We’re SO close to being finished we just want to get back at it right away tonight.
But ah, duty calls. Sean had to take his Aunt to the doctor again, and my son has a baseball game tonight.
Then later it’s American Idol Finals!
And Dancing With The Stars results!
Oh lord. Did I just say that?
Luckily, today I read something from John August that made me feel a little better:
[to a reader’s question] Here’s the thing: writing sucks. It’s difficult on a good day, and intolerable on most others. That’s why I’ll gladly answer your question rather than spend these 20 minutes of staring at the scene I ought to be writing.
So I don’t feel TOO bad that I may forgo finishing till tomorrow, that I may see Adam Lambert and Gilles Marini take their respective prizes. I think. Or maybe Kris and Melissa. Or Shawn. Though I may not be able to forgive Shawn for the lame Jabbawockeez ripoff.
Starting Thursday, So You Think You Can Dance will be my excuse.
Anyway, today our characters reached the goal that they’ve been trying to get to throughout the third act. Unfortunately, things are not all hunky dory… not yet. Someone else is dead, another is missing. And someone else is about to die – he just doesn’t know it yet.
Salvation is not forthcoming. Looks like if they’re getting out of this, they’re doing it the hard way…
Alone. With a gun.
Or two or three.
Hours (chip): 82.5