Monday, July 26, 2010

Thanks, Google Maps

I don't like writing about places I've never been, and that's where this all started.

I decided to set my current script, Salvage, in my hometown area. I was going along, following my treatment pretty carefully, having a grand old time putting forth pages on a regular basis, until I realized something I had not noticed when I wrote the treatment.

My characters end up ambushed at a meeting and make a run for it. In the treatment they race to the car and speed away to the next scene. But as I was writing the scene I realized that the place my people just came from was in walking distance of the place where they had their ill-fated meeting. So they don't need a car.

Foot chase.

I hadn't planned on a foot chase, so I had to stop for a minute and think. I could have tried some kind of parkoury type shit but that doesn't make any sense for my characters. My characters wouldn't want to drag this out. They'd want to get somewhere public and safe as soon as possible to escape the dudes chasing them.

I went to Google Maps. The location for my meeting is a pretty famous pub in my hometown, so I looked at it on the map and then I took a gander at the surrounding area and examined every possible place they could run to.

A supermarket, City Hall, a middle school, some shops. I considered each of these as a place to hide. We've seen chases end in supermarkets a zillion times. I briefly considered the middle school, but then I saw a museum that sort of glowed, the kind of museum that begs to be used as exactly this kind of location.

But I'd never been to this museum, so I had to Google it, and I saw pictures so I could figure out what kind of antics my characters could get up to during their stay. I have to rewrite some of the pages to make it funnier, but I got a really cool sequence out of it with almost endless potential.

I was supposed to make my characters run to the car and drive off, and instead I made them run to a museum and do stuff. It was a reminder that sometimes you have to stretch yourself a little to make things better.


  1. wow, good idea. Ive never thought about using Google Map to study locations for the script, but I've looked up photos of certain places like hotels, bars, or musuems.

    I used Google Map a few weeks ago to scout for shooting locations and it was helpful.

  2. I've been using Google Maps quite a bit with my current screenplay, which is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. I'm close enough that I've visited S.F. a ton of times, but not quite to the point of having an encyclopedic knowledge of the layout, so it's been very helpful.

    Patrick Sweeney
    I Blame Ninjas

  3. Sally creeping down the alley8:40 PM

    Speaking of "Salvage" that title either came out last year of will be coming out 2010/2011.

    And it would been kinda cool to see your characters end up at city hall just as the mayor is marrying some couple (and have a fight break out among the guests watching) or right as there's a city council meeting and everyone there goes nuts/fight, etc.

  4. Yes Salvage was the title of a couple of horror movies.

    City Hall sounds interesting, but what I decided to do is cooler to me.

  5. Anonymous11:29 PM

    Hey Emily,

    Talk about female action heroes...

    Have you seen the new trailer for Sucker Punch on their website?

    Any thoughts on the upcoming flick?

  6. Google Earth is better for quality.

    Bing maps lets you do a cool bird's eye view of certain locations. It's a very thorough angled POV, not just overhead. It's great having another angle to look at things with.

    I've been using these tools extensively since my first script. They help a lot with visualization, and it allows me to be a lot more exacting with where I set stuff.

  7. Suckerpunch looks badass.

  8. That is so much RESEARCH. I swear, I always set scripts in places I've never been so I don't have to be responsible for tiny details.

    I avoid. Obviously.


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