Sunday, March 09, 2008

Where to go next

I have a weird dilemma now. I'm done with the major work on the zombie script so now I have to start thinking of my next project and I'm torn about what I should begin working on.

Most of the scripts I've written I have no desire to show the world. But this zombie script is pretty solid so I finally feel like I have something worth putting out there that I wrote myself. I have Bamboo Killers, but I think it's stronger as a short story collection than it is as a feature film, and I wrote it with a partner. So I need a follow-up script to the zombies.

I have like three good ideas, one in particular that I've been working on, but I just can't seem to find the story. I have a theme, a character, a title and a vague idea of something I need to happen. But I don't yet have a story. I keep trying to force it but it's not coming. The other ideas will require a vast amount of research, some of it expensive to obtain because I need to experience a few things to be able to write about them. These are ideas I'd like to pitch so the studio can pay for the research.

So I have no feature idea ready to go, but I do have a pilot. My Ex-Fiance used to live really far from me so I only saw him on the weekends, but sometimes he had to work on weekends, which left me books and the X-Box for company while I waited for him to come home. That got pretty boring. I began to spend my downtime writing a story in the space traveler genre. Every weekend I would add to the story until I have a whole series in my head.

But I never wrote it because I was always busy working on something else until I forgot all about it. Then the other day I remembered it and now it's all I can think about.

The problem is, it's a pilot. I see it only as a pilot. It doesn't work as a feature because it has too many pieces to get through in two hours. But I don't want to be writing a pilot right now, I need to be writing a feature.

So my choice is to sit around and think until I come up with a solid plot for my feature or work on the pilot and hope it's enough to fill out my portfolio.

Maybe I'll start the pilot until I figure out my feature idea. That way I can keep building on what I have without wasting any time.


  1. Maybe try to START on some of the research while also trying to develop the story for the first feature?

    I've done a decent amount of research for two different projects that I've not written word one on, and which I probably won't for a very long time.

  2. 1) Do what research you can.

    2) Write pilot + episodes, or at least outlines of them rather than spending all your time writing the dialog, though important memorable phrases or scenes should be further sketched out.

    3) Write Scenes, even if you're not sure for what project they'll be used. If you write enough of them, the story you want will eventually come to you.

    4) Read on things, whether for the script or on the system, or on writing, until your brain gets back on track.

    5)Visit cafes or restaraunts and steal occasional bits of conversation for scripts.

    6)Some combination of the above, or just take a couple days to do NON-WRITING / FILMING stuff, which recharges the batteries when they get drained.

  3. I do research while writing. I don't believe you'll ever have enough research ever. You can research yourself to death. So just start and research while you write. That way you are always having new ideas and inspiration to work further on the project.

  4. You're probably right, Joel. I can do some research now but not what I need to write the stories. But it can't hurt to be prepared for when I go into a pitch meeting.

    But that doesn't help me with a project to write RIGHT NOW.

    So I'll use the one I've got.

    I'm going to work on the pilot until my new future idea finds its way to me. I'll probably call up a friend and bounce some ideas off of him. That usually works.

  5. It helps me to try and write out a logline at the point you are at.

    I find I generally write better log lines before I start writing my next feature, simply because all I have in my head is the idea. It's not a muddled up mess yet. But I can't write out a log line until I know where I am going.

    Research helps.

    I generally have the opposite problem, though. I am usually starting my third act of a script, but wanting to do research and write my next script. More a problem of finishing than starting for me, heh.

  6. I do not understand this "I need to find something to work on" dilemma. I accept that it's REAL (based upon how often I hear it mentioned) but it just seems so... ALIEN. I always have more ideas screaming for immediate attention than I ever have time to allocate.

    As soon as I ever "finish" (ha!) any project I always have a momentary flash of joy as I realize "oh, great! now I can finally devote more attention to...{whatever project]."

    Which of course then has to fight for attention from the NEW 'five other great ideas" my brain most urgently wants to play with.

    Alcohol helps.


  7. Sometimes I write really short shorts when I'm in between projects. It's nice because 1. you can spend as little or as much time writing/rewriting them as you want since you can usually spin off the first draft in a day or two 2. inspiration isn't so hard if you just go sit in a public place and eavesdrop for a while 3. if you want to swipe a camera and some actors for a weekend, you can probably shoot it yourself.

    You already know you're good at shorts anyway, according to a previous post. : ) Try to make them shorter. I think it was Mark Twain who said, "If I'd had more time, I'd have written a shorter story."


  8. Short stories are what I tend to write in my downtime - I still feel like I'm writing something, but the commitment isn't so great. Plus they give me a way to try out some ideas to see if they'll fly.


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