Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ending the story: soggy or cliché

Me, a writer of movie scripts

Now I have come to the end of as far as I wrote on the first draft.

I’m in the middle of the story.

Well, not middle middle, because I’ve passed the middle from a structural point of view, but rather in the middle of the beginning of the ending.

Make sense?

I have a pretty solid idea what kind of ending I want on most subplots, but unfortunately not on the major one.

In its most basic core it is a father-son relationship; son making revolution against the past generation’s way of life, and he joins the enemy. And here we are talking about an enemy that his father’s generation tried to kill. So the father is at war with his own son.

I know what kind of ending I want on the story, but this father-son-thing I’ve not figured out yet.

The father may be stubborn to stupidity which will either get him killed or humiliated or both.

Or he may accept the son’s choice and then as a conclusion of this also make peace with the enemy.

The first will be cliché and the second soggy. Besides, if the father gives up the war, others will fight them instead, so the son will not be safe and the story comes to no real conclusion.

Hum. . .

Now, as I write this, I suddenly got a vision. Got to go now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Like a box of chocolates

I don’t hate rewriting. It is a vital part of the process and I can’t allow myself to hate it, when the result of it becomes so much better.

But writing the first draft is an uncomparable thrill. It is pure passion floating from the fingers to the keyboard and out on the screen; like a dam bursting and its water creating a waterfall and rivers seeking to find new ways, exploring.

So from that point of view rewriting is boring.

Rewriting is more like twisting and turning every single scene and every single line of dialog to find the very best angle. It is more like pain than passion.

I want to write a new story because of the bolt, but I have so many good first drafts that I would be a fool to neglect, just for another dumped first draft. Yet it is hard to neglect that I have an urge for that passion.

I have found it when I do other things, like when I make a model in one-inch-scale (1:12), but the experience is rare.

It’s something special with a white page and new text filling it up.

I can’t get enough of it. It’s like a box of chocolates.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Use of improper words for historical reasons

A publisher refused to republish a popular child book because they were not allowed to replace the word “negro” with a word more political correct. The book was published first time 1953 and then the word “negro” was the commonly used word for a person with dark skin.

These things are controversial. Should you rewrite something without the original writer’s content? Even the beloved Astrid Lindgren used the word “negro”. Texts reflect the culture in which they were written. Should you change them just because the values have changed?

When it comes to books and other media meant for children I say: definitely.

I have an old song book that both my parent’s had when they were kid. They still re-publish it with the same content, just because it is classic.

In it there are several songs about spanking children that are not nice and quiet, child labour and who good it feels to work hard. And the use of the word “nigger”.

When I sing and read for my children I transfer values. I can’t sing a song about a “nigger” and then explain that they should never ever use that word.

I have some old child books where they spank their children, which I have had trouble with because they are written in verse. It’s not just to rephrase.

Of course I have explained that in the old days parents thought that spanking was good but that we know better these days, but it’s no fun reading about a child being on an adventure just to get home and get spanked. History and cultural reflections of their time may be, but I would not mind a pro rewrote those verses.

My oldest son sang a song about a year ago which included “you should be quiet and nice” and “you are not allowed to be angry”. I got upset and tried to find the origin of these very old fashioned ideas. But the song was nowhere to be found (and he didn’t dare sing it again after my reaction). He had made the song himself, as it turned out, based on verses in those old books I had read.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A lost longing

I wonder what happened to my enthusiasm about writing a blog entry each day.

I used to think about what to write on the bus and then at first possible moment write it down.

Now I think of other things.

I’ve seen blogs I liked come and go. I don’t want my blog to be one of those who simply vanish.

Maybe I’m just in one of those phases; One where I try other things, stretching my legs and take a little walkabout.

Don’t worry. I’m here. And my blog is still alive.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rewriting a first draft

Rewriting a first draft stuck in the third act

I’m working my way through my first draft of Sunlight. A draft never finished. I think it was because the main character’s arc was done before the story was finished. And, as usual, I got stuck in the third act.

As I read it trough the first time I found the script thrilling. It was much better than I remember it.

I had made notes about some extra scenes in the beginning, showing what kind of environment the place is, but I decided not to. The script should start when the story begins, not before. It will soon be obvious that it is a world of men (men filled with testosterone since women are lacking) and the world has become a desert because of human wars about the final recourses left.

In the second act focus is moving from the main character to his brother. The brother needs attention, but I think I need to reconsider my strategy. We should perhaps follow the brother through the main character instead.

I sometimes read at forums questions about naming characters, if it is really necessary, especially if the character’s name is never mentioned. I can tell you one thing: a character who play’s an important part, and walks and talks, needs a name. It is very strange to have a character called “father” (and not a religious father, but a biological). In action texts it becomes “the father” or “XX’s father”. It gets much better reading if there is a name instead.

I think I should put some more focus on the fact that one of the societies learned by the human mistakes, and the other didn’t – and they will repeat the same thing over again.

And the one group who learned they are way too angel-like with no flaws. That is no good either.

Image by: Solangita2207
Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Image edited by the writer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Listening to other people's conversation

Listening to dialog on the bus

I overheard this wonderful, but tragic, dialog on the bus today.

It was two young women talking: one being beaten by her girlfriend, the other trying to talk her into leaving her.

The talk went back and forth about care and love and finding the right one.

The beaten girl said she didn’t want to start dating all over again. And her friend replied with a question if she wanted to spend the rest of her life with a woman beating her, becoming a victim and what on Earth she thought she would gain by that.

“Well, maybe I can write a book about it when I get old and get lots of dough.”

The last reply didn’t seem like a serious intention to me, so it almost made me smile, and I thought that I’ll use this in a movie script long before that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Table next to the Window

Untitled from Jessica Liander on Vimeo.

I’ve just received this link from Jessica Liander and her permission to spread it.

Read more about the project here.

This is the fourth movie I’ve seen based on a script of mine. It still thrills me. I hope it will always do. I guess that someday I’ll be very disappointed on the result, but not so far and not this time either.

This script I wrote in collaboration with Håkan Eklund.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How not to name a movie

We Swedes need to be told with bold letters when a movie is a romantic comedy. I don’t know if it is to warn us to make sure we don’t watch it by mistake, or if it is to make sure we don’t miss a masterpiece, but anyway it has been made sure that we don’t miss it.


The title is changed to a Swedish title including the word “love”.

"Two weeks’ notice" is way too inaccurate, and gets the Swedish equivalent to “Love at work”. "Maid in Manhattan" – this quite funny and nice title – gets known in Sweden as “Love is checking in”. And the latest in line: “No reservations” becomes “Love on the menu”.

Now why do they do this?

The tourist” does not only keep its name, but also keeps its original English title on the posters. It does not include the word “action” or “thriller” but we are supposed to understand this anyway.

Somehow the Swedish love-titles spoil the thrill. Not that I don’t understand that they eventually will fall in love, but why tell me? The love-thing is rather late in the stories. It is after all the grand finale when they become a couple with true love’s first kiss and all. The title reveals the ending. It doesn’t allow any other ideas about how this story can go. It dooms the story to end happily.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Expendables - Fifteen years too late

The Expendables Désirée Nordlund Writer of Movie Scripts

How is it possible that the cream of action actors can participate in a movie that becomes one of the worst I have ever seen?

I’m talking about “The Expendables”.

During the 1980th and early 90th a lot of pretty brain-dead action movies were made. The good guy killed loads of bad guys, some close-up fist-fights and knife-stabbing and finally everything exploded. Any girl involved was either in need of macho male support, or supported by big tits.

Action movies do in general not look this way today. The characters and the story are more complex. Emotions are allowed, testosterone levels minimized.

So what happens when you put all the male actors from the major action movies from the 80th in a movie project year 2010?

I guessed it would either be a fun version of the action ideals of the 80th, or a very serious, emotional action of 2010.

The actual result was a movie from 1980th somewhere, with the only difference that the actors were older. The good guys killed loads of bad guys, several close-up fist fights and knife-stabbing and finally everything exploded, about three times. One girl involved was in need of macho male support, the other had only big tits.

Basic story was bad and unrealistic and in-jokes broke every chance of keeping a functional illusion; in the whole movie there was only one line worth the trouble of remembering.

Honestly, what were they thinking?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ett livsviktigt möte / A vital meeting

The short movie made from my third sold short script. The title is "A vital meeting" in English. The film won the short film contest at UngVERAfilm on Åland 2010.

It is about a stressed mother who needs to be at a vital meeting at work, but her daughter wants to play.

Play it in full screen if possible.