Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time to mold the clay

I'm just about done with the first draft of Fear of Clowns and it's horrible. But that's okay because I expected it to be horrible. It's also going to be somewhere in the range of 70 pages.

I feel like this script, more than most, is a big pile of clay. I plopped it down and rolled it into a ball and shoved it on the wheel thingee and pulled it up into a tall blob. Now comes the part where I have to make it into a vase. Then comes the part where I bake it, and then the part where I paint it. And when I'm done it will be all pretty and violent.

Today I rewrote my final confrontation scene. See, the last script I wrote, as you know, was about fighting zombies. So the fight scenes I'd grown accustomed to writing involve lots of cool martial arts moves and bludgeoning and one-on-thirty battles with a broom handle as the only weapon.

So yesterday, when I sat down to write the final gunfight, I went a little overboard. The scene is this: a boy who has barely any experience shooting a gun walks into a room with three other boys, each of whom has a gun and each of whom is a better shot. And somehow this boy has to kill the other three without dying.

My first attempt at this was ridiculous. I had all kinds of complicated moves and lots of melodramatic shit. Then I went to sleep and I woke up realizing that it should be simple. Protag kills Kid 1. Kid 2 shoots, hits in a non-deadly place. Protag shoots and kills Kid 2. Kid 3 comes out of the bedroom where he'd been hiding. Both boys stand holding their guns on each other. Then a distraction, and Protag kills Kid 3.

The thing is, Kid 3 and Protag are best friends so I've got one of those, Oh no, what have I done moments where my Protag cradles his dying best friend in his arms after he shot him. And right now it's so cliche it's making me ill.

I don't want people to feel like I'm being melodramatic. I want them to naturally feel for these characters. I want them to really cry when my Protag has to kill his best friend. Right now they'll groan.

And that, I think, is what's in those thirty odd pages I'm missing.


  1. Anonymous1:53 AM

    Well done. You beat me to a first draft. I have 60 pages down and am only 2/3rds through mine. I was keeping tabs on you secretly though. So good luck with the rewrite!

  2. action sequences are sometimes difficult to write, so i understand where you're coming from. I worry whether or not my action sequences are over the top, melodramatic, and corny, so I try to focus on making it simple and leave it up to the director to make it look good.

    i am currently reading "Wanted" (the screenplay) to check out how the action sequences are written.

    good luck with polishing your script!

  3. Nice work! I have 86 pages of my first screenplay and I am pushing hard to get my the draft done by Sunday.

    It feels really loose right now but I have tons of new ideas for the rewrite. Very exciting.

    Last weeks Entourage, with all the script reading, really got me motivated.

    Good luck and have fun!


  4. Maybe he should just walk away at the end. I think if I saw a scene where a guy just shot his best friend, it'd be two totally different emotional effects if there was just a moment of incredible honest pain on his face as he hesitates, then walks away than if he cradles him and sobs aloud. The whole, the audience feels is it more if they see a character trying not to cry then if the character's sobbing uncontrollably thing.

    Hm. Maybe.

  5. Hey, stop it, Amy. That's the quote I always tell people. Stop reciting my own advice back to me!

    Kevin, your draft will probably be complete. Mine's a mess, but that's how I work. So I doubt my first draft can compare to your first draft.

    And thanks, Deaf. This one actually isn't so much and action film as it is a drama with a violent ending. I think that's why I'm having more trouble than usual.

  6. Anonymous11:24 AM

    That scene with the 1v3 gunfight reminds me of Stagecoach, when The Ringo Kid (John Wayne) killed the three punks.
    He dived onto the ground as he shot his first shot, and then you don't see the rest. lol... you just hear gunshots.
    Your idea is good. You should maybe add in something, like a 'tool' or whatnot that helps the boy win the fight. Maybe if someone gives him someething that can be used to give him the 'edge' in the fight (be creative, maybe he has a throwing knife or even a bunch of dogs on a leash).
    I don't know, depends on the story.

  7. Emily, what do you mean by your ending? Does it end unhappily with violence?

    right now one example of an unhappy (and violent) ending of a movie I can think of is "Oldboy" which was gory, fucked up and excellent.

    or how about "Heathers"? Although that was satire/black comedy.

    or the Japanese movie "Battle Royale" which had a somewhat ambivalent ending where two characters who escaped the island ended up drifting away in life and you have no idea what's gonna happen to them. So is your ending more like ambivalent?

  8. It ends with a kid shooting his friends. He does the right thing but it costs him. A lot.

    So bittersweet.

  9. Anonymous1:45 PM

    Completely off topic. Don't know if you've heard this yet, but I think all those still pics of Meg Ryan in "The Women" ads look like you. Good luck w/ your rewrites.


  10. Interesting. Well, there are worse people to look like than Meg Ryan.

  11. Anonymous3:57 AM

    Sounds like The Wire. Which is awesome.

  12. Oh, oh really? ... ; )

    Oh man, what if he stumbles over to his friend, cradles him in his arm, but he *can't* cry.

    *that* would hurt.


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