Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A monologue that works

Normally I would not react well if I saw a monologue reaching across three pages. I would feel a slight risk of dying of boredom before I reached the end.

I like to be proven wrong once in a while.

I have not read the script of this short, but it is a three minute soliloquy never the less. A working one.

Yes, of course you need a good actor to pull it off, but no actor in the world could make a poorly written text to shine.

Family constellation

There was news about this new law in Sweden which gave single women the right to insemination. I commented that I had heard the KD-party’s arguments against it and laughed at them. My mother-in-law agreed that KD are insane, but exploded about how much she disagreed with the new law – with just about the same arguments as KD just had.

I stared at her; not fully comprehending that educated people could be so doltish.
There was only one of her arguments I could buy: that it was discriminating, because it only included women and not men; a result of a biological fact that men in general don’t have a womb.

She was worried that my sons would be left without girlfriends and family because if women could get kids on their own, why bother with men.

I live in a country where your are allowed to a divorce, live together without being married, live in a homosexual relationship, have insemination if you are a lesbian couple, adopt if you are a suitable parent no matter partner or no partner, and have the right to an abortion.

The fact is that today, single Swedish women travel to neighbour countries to have their insemination, loosing their child’s right to ever know who the father is. These children will be born no matter what Swedish law says.

Just as people lived in homosexual relationships or made abortions long before the law agreed to this right.

There is an idea that in the perfect world, a man and a woman find each other, get kids and live the rest of their lives together. If this were the situation for everybody, it would have been fine, but it isn’t; and never has been. It’s just that people over the years have lived in shame becoming single mothers, died of illegal abortion, and not being able to live with whom they loved.

Is it not better for everybody to accept the situation as it is, rather than ignoring facts just because they don’t fit into the prefect world?

People like my mother-in-law is afraid that if something becomes legal people will do it so much more.

Like the arguments at the time saying that the number of homosexuals would increase to the level that would bring the human existence to the brink of collapsing (since homosexuals at the time did not produce any offspring) if it became legal.

I still believe that people will fall in love and have the desire to have children. I believe that women in general want to have a family. I did not marry my husband because I wanted a father for my children. It’s not “worst case” for women to have to partner up with a man who takes responsibility, to be able to have children. "Worst case" is to stand as a single, wanting to have children but unable to find a man to love, and feeling the time to be able to become a mother is getting short.

I don’t believe that the fact that something is illegal will keep people with the need to do it anyway, some way.

What I do believe in is a child’s right to know the father. Half of our genes come from our fathers. To be able to find out who the father is is vital to understand yourself.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Heartstrings - A wonderful short film

Heartstrings from Rhiannon Evans on Vimeo.

Writing synopsis

I've been asked to send longer synopsis for two of my very short scripts from my scripts for sale page. I felt that was kind of strange. Don't you read a synopsis to save time? To get a hint of the script might be worthy your time? Then why do you need a synopsis for a two page script?

I've never heard a writer that loved to write a synopsis. It is not the forum where a writer feels he or she can shine. It is something that needs to be done, and though we all know it is vital for a sell to come through, it is not here we put our passion.

What on earth should I write between a one sentence treatment and a script of two pages that sells the script better than the script itself?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Me, my characters and who is who

I put my heart and my soul into my scripts. I tell things that I think are essential. The characters all have something of me in them.

If you know this, do you think you can read one of my scripts and know me afterwards?

I don’t think you can.

I think a reader that does not know me, can know a little about my moral and values in life after exploring a script of mine, but not much more.

The bare thought that someone might assume a character I had written is me, gives me goose bumps. It would limit me so much if I felt that all characters represented me.

I want my characters to be multi dimensional and engaging, and also make intriguing constellations. To make them so, I don’t clone myself and make them all do and think as I do. I must pass the borders of what I think is okay to do, how I talk and how I think.

Yet, all characters have something of me because I am the writer. To understand how the character thinks and acts, I need something to relate to, something from my own experience.

Like when I’m angry and behave like a “bad guy”, what thoughts did I have, what triggered me, those kinds of things. It could be the nervousness from an event, or the panic in a specific situation, all strong emotions.

It does not need to be my own thoughts and actions. It can be someone else’s, a person I met or a friend. The crucial thing is that I can understand the – likely - underlying mechanisms, even if I disagree.

The characters are there to tell the story, transfer something I think is of significant value. They are not me. Just because a character is nasty and angry and rude, it does not mean that I’m that way, or promote that kind of behavior. Every character’s behavior serves the overall story.

I’m not uneasy about what a reader might think of me. I’m much more nervous about what the reader might think about my script. It is the final handiwork that counts. The writing skill merged with the craft of telling a story.

I’m not being judged. It’s my work under the loupe, like a jewel being examined if it is real or fake.

As it is for a jewel, it is a matter of if you have something you can sell or something you keep for nostalgia.

Made by Mauro Cateb, Brazilian jeweler
Photo edited by the writer

Monday, February 20, 2012

Structure of a short

I've finished the first "complete" version of When the Music Stops. With complete I mean that I have written everything that I want, compared to the raw, compressed version I wrote first.

Now I wanted to check if the structure was right. I did a print out, but of a special kind. I printed six pages on one sheet of paper. This was not a matter of reading, but a matter of getting an overview of the structure.

I saw that the happiest moment, the mid point, was too far back in the story. I inspected the place where it should have been. To my amazement the scene fitted much better there - a switching of places between two scenes.

Before it was more like happiness - doubt -happiness peak - despair.

From turning point one to midpoint there is now happiness, peaking at the midpoint. And between midpoint and turning point two there comes doubt and despair reaching its low-point just before turning point two.

Much better.

Now it is time to proofread and polish.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Me, a damn cocksure screenwriter

I’ve just said no to a producer.

Though he said it was an opportunity of a lifetime.

My gut feeling said no, with a very clear voice.

When he told me what he wanted to do with the script, I felt it was something else completely. It was like he had read my script and saw what he thought it should have been. I’m not against rewriting to fit needs and improve the script, but when the story takes a completely different turn then it is something else. But he still wanted my particular script because it is a third price winner in an international contest, which obviously is something good when you apply for funding.

Then he offered me to be assistant director. The reason for this I don’t know. But I tell you it is not a good choice of words to say that I should not only be a script writer. What’s so “only” about that? Then he claimed it was not difficult to be a director. I began feeling like a hedgehog. I guess it was not his intention to express himself derogatory, but my ear caught it that way never the less.

Now, I’m not very interested in directing. At least not now at this point in my life.

The question was if I wanted him to do something completely different than I intended with my script. He didn’t offer me a price, but mentioned figures that should have been tempting.

But somehow I got a feeling that he was boasting too much. What he said and what I found on Internet didn’t match.

My gut feeling said no.

I slept on it. Took a walk to clear my mind.

I looked at his work on the web page again. I still wasn’t impressed. I know everybody can’t show me material that make me jump out of my seat, but this was so far from what I look for in a movie that it can possibly get.

Someone might say that I’m way too overconfident if I turn an offer down like this.

It might be so.

A screenwriting guru told me that I should be grateful if someone wants to buy my scripts.

I’m sceptical to this demand to feel grateful.

I see no need to not take pride in my work. To feel grateful that someone wants to buy my work is to me to say that my scripts are not worthy better treatment. I feel grateful if someone passes my name on in a positive manner, I feel grateful if someone links to my blog and say a few nice words about it, but I can’t muster gratefulness because someone wants to buy my scripts. I feel happy and flattered if it goes as far as an actual sell, and excited to see what kind of movie that will come out of it. But obviously I’m not humble enough to feel grateful.

Me, a damn cocksure screenwriter.

Photo by: en:User:WikiCats
Image edited by the writer

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A first raw version

My first version of "When the Music Stops" became five pages instead of ten. That is good. I did my best to write it as short as possible, to find what was absolutely essential for the story to work. If it had turned into ten pages at this stage I would have been in trouble.

The script I have now works, in terms of structure and content, but the audience wouldn’t have time to grasp what was going on before the movie was ended. There is no time to breathe and reflect.

Now I will take this rough piece of work and add what will give the story its soul.

Photo by Cephas
Image edited by the writer

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Finding names from another culture

”When the music stops” will probably be translated to German before production. Even if that will not be the case, the area for the story is Bern in Switzerland. Then I must give the characters German names, obviously.

I have this marvellous site I visit when I’m in search for names. It is Behind the Name where it is possible to search for both origin and meaning. After a little search, I had selected three German names.

Now comes the tricky part: How do I know if these names are used often enough to sound fairly normal?

I Googled them and I found hits with persons having those names, but it is not like making a search in the local phone directory.

Writing for another culture is difficult.

In this case values, architecture, behaviour and so on do not differ that much from what I’m used to. Still, I sit here with three names, which just as much could be names for three goblins.

Photo by:
Image edited by the writer

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

When the music stops

The short script assignment begins to find its shape. As a structure. I don’t write anything before I have the structure in place.

Although this will only be a ten minute story, one cannot neglect the structure. Every story needs its turning points and their high and low moments. Even a one minute script does.

Actually I use the same mindmap as when I plan my features. The same need is there, just a more limited space to tell it.

It will not be the same depth as a feature of course, but a story can be told in thirty seconds buy a kid in fun-hour in school. A story needs conflict and conflict causes movement and that movement needs a curvy road to make an interesting story. No matter length, you need those building blocks.

In this story I have a character with a rather special oddity that he himself never minded – set up. Then he gets a very tempting job offer – the catalyst. He realises that his oddity is more problematic than he thought and he tries to do something about it: becoming “normal” – debate and turning point one. At first being “normal” is good but soon he realises that being normal has its problems too: he cannot feel the passion for the thing he is offered job about, and that was all he lived for. He must go back and be himself – turning point 2. But he still wants the job, it is the job he always dreamed of – obstacle. So he finds a solution – finale.

Could be a feature, but I could just as much told the whole story less cryptic on these few rows. Long or short, you always need a story. And a story could be told in any length. A good story should always catch your interest no matter if it is written on the back of a matchbox or in a novel of the size of a brick.

The title of the script is (at least for now) “When the music stops”. When the mind map is finished I’ll send it to the commissioner for approval.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Daily Haiku

Haiku Daily
A grown-up woman
Carrying a bunny in her hand
Slippers in the snow

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Review: Cowboys & Aliens

As so often, when I review a movie on this blog, it is because I think the movie has flaws. Yes, I think Cowboys & Aliens had flaws. I enjoyed it, but it could have been better.

So hang on. Or stop reading, because here will be spoilers.

First some minor things:
There was this Ella, turning out to be an good-guy alien. It was a setup for that she knew the main character Jake and knew what he had been through, but the follow-up for this was very vague.

And then there was the bully ranch-owner Dolarhyde played by Harrison Ford. It was not shown that the "owned" the town. This could have been shown much better. He could have been much more of a villain.

And minor flaw number three: the evil aliens was said to not handle sunlight well, but once when they were out they did well enough. Just any ordinary monster. Bleak.

The major problem according to me is the relationship between the characters and the lack of character development.

The main character is Jake played by Daniel Craig. In the beginning of the movie he wakes up in the wild with an odd bracelet and no memory. When he arrives to a town he is arrested by the local sheriff because Jake is a wanted man.

The sheriff turns out to be a good man, treating everyone with respect. I can't say that Jake and the sheriff developed a friendship - far from it - but roles were established. One I expected to develop to a form of relationship during the movie.

Then the ranch-owner Dolarhyde turns up and wants Jake because Jake has robbed him. The aliens turns up and kidnap a bunch of townsfolk including the sheriff and Dolarhyde's - also arrested - son. So Jake and Dolarhyde are suddenly a couple on the hunt after the aliens (Jake only since he remembers that the aliens took and killed his loved one).

So Jake frees the sheriff, they return to town and the goodbye is said between the two movie stars Craig and Ford, and not between Jake and the sheriff, which should have been much more satisfying, since it was there it all started. A wanted man and a sheriff is a far more interesting good bye than a wanted man and the former town bully saying good buy. But movie stars are doomed to take all the good lines.

Jake's character does not develop much, he just regains his memory. That's not what I call development.

Dolarhyde learns to respect his son and not be the owner of the town, but this is due to everybody is suddenly rich with gold, not because he has reached some major understanding during the rescue trip.

The relationship between Jake and Dolarhyde is also very thin and close to pointless.

I would like to have seen this:
Instead of the aliens taking the sheriff, they would have taken his grandchild. Small change, but huge change for the story.

This would have left Jake, Dolarhyde and the Sheriff in the posse. A far more interesting constellation. Could Jake be trusted? They need him (his bracelet is a weapon), but as it was in the film, no one forced him to join, which made him a free man. The Sheriff-Jake couple would have been far more interesting, because the Sheriff needs to take Jake along, knowing he is violent killer.

Jake of course would have a loved one taken too - still a live, mind you, what else is there to fight for in the beginning (when we don't know they will claim the whole Earth)?

Dolarhyde and the Sheriff are no friends - they would have been a great couple, creating some interesting discussions and character development. Both claim Jake too.

Just my opinion.

Filmography links and data courtesy of  The Internet Movie Database.

Daily Haiku

Haiku Daily
Snow under my shoe
It sounds like meringue breaking
It's fairytale world

Friday, February 3, 2012

Daily Haiku

Haiku Daily
Crisp, bright, pale blue sky
Ice blue cold water meets it
The whole World is blue

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Daily Haiku

Haiku Daily
White smoke from my mouth
Blocks of ice on the river
It's cold. Sun rises