Posted by: steveonfilm | January 12, 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I’ve written three outlines for “The Prey” so far. I’m now working on outline number four.

Outline number one was really just an exercise to get my head around the world this film was going to take part. Get a rough idea about some possible characters. Play with some story beats. Figure out key elements from Michael’s screenplay I wanted to keep. Experiment. That sort of stuff. Not too unlike things I’ve done before.

Outline number two I really started to put things together. All in all it would work as a script. A good script? No. But it’s got all the beats I’d want. All the characters I’d want. And it’s solid enough to continue to develop. So I sent it over to Michael.

But a funny thing happened… I had this inkling of another story. A story that borrows elements from the second outline, but was an altogether different story. In two days I put together outline three. It’d work as a script too. Maybe even a good script. But I don’t think it’s what Michael wants. Nor was it the story that either of us wanted to tel. Nonetheless, I thought it was strong enough that it might have some story elements he’d like. So I sent it over as well.

Michael’s had a week or so to chew on outline 1, and a few days to chew on outline 2, and today we talked a bit about both of them. He liked about 50% from outline 1, and 50% from outline two. We figure put the good parts of each of them together, and we might have something that we can start to build on.

This is the first time I’ve shared any sort of creative process with another person. It’s been interesting so far. While it’s more of a writer/editor relationship than a co-writer relationship, it’s good to have a constant set of second eyes on a project. I know some people might find that annoying, but I don’t.

I work in a professional atmosphere where you can get to caught up in small details. Obsessing over things like color, font size, animations, and things that are really just fluff, but stuff that you’re convinced is important to the project. Without someone to look down at what I’m working on from a higher level, you don’t have someone to tell you that while you’re concentrating on the font color, the system you just designed doesn’t work.

In my case right now that’s Michael. Sure, technically “The Prey” is his idea, but this is very much my project. I’m doing the heavy lifting. I’m the project manager. But Michael, he’s the product manager. He knows what this product needs to offer, and he’ll steer my project in the direction it needs to go. It’s my job to make sure that it gets there.

Someone you can constantly bounce ideas off of is good. Especially if you’re constantly working with someone, maybe not on the same project, but in the same sphere of influence. I’ve got people at work I can bounce ideas off of… people that don’t do the same thing as me, but have enough of a knowledge base that their view point will offer significant inside into whatever I’m doing.

I don’t see why writing would be any different. Michael isn’t a screenwriter, he’s a manager. But he knows plenty about the movie business. He knows what questions producers might ask. He knows what sort of things studios would look at seriously, and what they would ignore. He can steer the product in a direction that will make it as marketable as possible. I just need to make sure I can deliver that product in a shape he can use. Will any of it pan out in anything tangible? Odds are no. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to do out best to make it happen.

So that back and forth will continue between us. After this draft we’ll be getting closer. I’m VERY satisfied with how act one plays out. I’ve got the major beats for act two. The ending of all three outlines has continued to be the same basic thing, and that trend will continue into the forth. The major fence posts are there. Right now I’m just working on stringing them all together in a way that’s interesting, and original.

Until next time, keep writing!
-Steven

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