Friday, July 22, 2005

First pass complete


This is one of the happier times of my life.

I've finished my first pass through the last part of the rough draft.  Talk about pain.

But now it's done.  Ready for my second pass.  Which should be much easier.

                      *     *     *

So to celebrate, I thought I'd put up a picture of my friend Kim.  I'll explain why in a moment.

The picture to the left was taken of us standing in the sand on the Santa Monica boardwalk.  Photographer:  Mike Melin, Kim's husband.  They were visiting in March 2003.

                      *     *     *

But first, let me do the numbers.

So I've just finished my first pass through the script.  At least 25 hours of work.

It's gone from 138 to 113 pages.  25 pages of obvious flab eliminated.  Bad dialogue.  Unnecessary description.  Bad stories told.

Just think.  Only another nine passes to go. 

And then it goes to my co-writer for his revisions.

                      *     *     *

I thought I'd share the most meaningful analysis of the writing process that I've read in the last year.  It's an excerpt from Secrets if Film Writing by Tom Lazarus (the screenwriter who wrote Stigmata).

"Your rough draft is one giant step along the way.  Getting it down on paper is the toughest part and you're there.  After that, the rewriting is the true fun.  To make it better every time you touch it, to make it closer and closer to the idealized script you have in your mind, is pure pleasure.

"I've learned over the years to tune into myself as I read, to listen to the music of my screenplay to see what is off pitch.  Now, after you've given it a respectful read, tear that puppy apart.

"Change scenes....

"Make the dialogue sound better to your ear....

"Make the characters richer....


"Crank everything up.

"Maximize the minimum you have there.

"The best analogy of rewriting I know is creating a sculpture.  The sculptor starts with a big raw piece of marble.  The sculptor's job is to find the sculpture in the raw stone, just as your job is to find the final script in the raw pages of your rough draft.

"In both the sculptor's and writer's process, what is called for is clarifying, polishing, bringing it out and maximizing the idea into its final reality.

"Rewriting is the literary equivalent of the process that takes a film rough cut and edits it into the fine cut.

"It's the sophistication of the product.

"When you finally trim away or change the passages that don't make sense, that are out of place, that don't sound right, emotionally, in any way, then you'll be finished...but not done.

"At this point in my writing, I still do up to ten passes to get to a revised rough draft.

"I'll send it out for new comments, from different, fresh readers, then rewrite again."

                      *     *     *

About Kim and Mike.  I talked to Kim yesterday.  We made plans to do something -- the three of us -- when I go back to Ohio.

It's been almost a year since I last saw them.

And best of all, Kim and Mike are preggers.

                      *     *     *

There's another reason I'm thinking about Kim and Mike this morning. 

They were among the first few friends I told about The French Inquisitor, back in April of 2000 when I first conceived the story.

Kim may be pregnant with a baby now, but I'm pretty damn close to delivery of this story in the form of a screenplay.

Wouldn't it be cool if we both delivered our "baby" about the same time.  Kim's baby to a delivery room in Canton, Ohio by way of a hospital.  Steven & Steven's script to a major studio by way of an agent.

Hey.  One can dream.

                      *     *     *

One advantage the Melin baby has, however.  Kim and Mike know where they're bringing their child home to live.

We still have no idea where The French Inquisitor will finally find a home.  

Let's hope the agent (who doesn't know yet that he wants to work with us) has a lot of good leads on a buyer for our script (who hasn't yet heard about the potential Oscar winner).

As the annoying producer says in Robert DeNiro's Guilty by Suspicion, "We're gonna walk down the aisle together.  All the way to the Oscar."

Course, there was no Oscar to be found there.  Not even a directing job.  Hint:  see the movie.  It'll make sense.  I promise.

You know you want it, Weinstein Brothers.  Come on, Harvey.  Don't be shy.

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