Finishing a screenplay is always thrilling! 90-120 pages of blood, sweat and tears, and its all right there before your very eyes. What’s next? A vacation to Hawaii? Diving into a bank-vault of gold coins? Ideally, yes! But generally, no. It doesn’t take too long for that overjoyed feeling to be replaced with one of self-flagellation: you see all the mistakes you’ve made, the shortcuts you’ve taken, and the glaring errors in logic. Hopefully, you also see the potential of what you’ve written, the mini-strikes of brilliance, the kernels of something truly unique! Either way, it soon becomes apparent that, if this piece is going to stand on its own, you have to keep digging. As cliche as it is, yes, “writing is re-writing,” so you dive back in.
In writing Volition, we churned through a huge amounts of drafts — sometimes shifting the entire plot-structure, other times, pulling out set-pieces, and other times re-thinking characters and sharpening their arcs. After this intense process, we finally felt that we had created a draft worthy of shooting. So, what was next? The trip to Hawaii? The Maldives? Well, that didn’t quite happen, but we finally did have a draft that we could send to financiers. After various stalled attempts, we finally reached Paly Productions, and here we are today, gearing up to shoot! But, if you thought that was the end of the re-writing process, you may want to think again.
We’re currently going through a unique round of re-writes, looking at the draft from a very practical perspective. While, initially, our draft existed entirely in our heads. Now, it needs to actually manifest itself in real-life, and this means, we need to find realistic ways of achieving our vision. For us, this has meant looking to reduce extraneous locations, unnecessarily complicated sequences, and impractical set-pieces. Of course, the battle we have internally is by wearing both our writer hats and our producer hats. We want to retain all that is special and unique about the piece, while still finding a way to shoot it on a budget. Sometimes, we have to push hard to find creative solutions, but we believe we’re achieving this goal.
The next round of re-writes will likely emerge once we start collaborating with our actors. They will have thoughts on their characters, or thoughts on the way certain lines are expressed. We look forward to diving back into the draft at that point, polishing it up so that on the first day of Principal Photography, we’re in the best position possible. And then there’s the re-writes that will happen on set, and, of course, in the edit suite. But, surely, once all is said and done, that vacation to Hawaii, paid for entirely by our vault of gold coins, will be just around the corner. Ironically, knowing us, that entire vacation will be spent inside, re-writing a brand new script!