Friday, September 28, 2007


It's done! I can't believe I've actually finished it. The first draft of Left of the Dial is DONE!

In the end, it clocked in at 86 pages - not quite the 110 I had in mind, but as I said before, I still have a rewrite or two to go.

Now, I just have to leave it alone and resist the urge to go back and mess with it during the next two weeks. After that, I'll start making notes for the first rewrite and see if I can make it better. Like Hemingway once said, "The first draft of anything is shit."

As for the next two weeks? My plan is to start outlining a dramatic series for BBC television. I guess that should keep me occupied.

@#$%ing Final Draft

This script has some curse words. A lot of curse words. One of the supporting characters is a punk, so he's gonna curse a bit. A group of punks trash a pizza shop, so you know they're gonna drop the f-bomb numerous times.

So far, the script is coming along great. In fact, I'm working on the final scene right now. But I had no idea that I'd have to corrupt someone in the process.

I'm talking about my copy of Final Draft. Out of the box, it doesn't know any dirty words. You have to teach it all the nastiness - it's kinda like hanging out in the junior high boy's bathroom, telling all the younger kids what the unmentionable words mean.

I wish the good folks at Final Draft would create some kind of dirty-word add-on downloadable so all you have to do is install it and - BAM! - instant filthiness.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rockin' On...

I have a feeling I'm not going to make the 110-page mark on the Left of the Dial script. Not because I can't think of anything to write - the outline's handling that, thank you very much.

It's just that I don't think there's enough story there to make 110 pages. But a few things remain:

1. I have a few more scenes left to write.
2. I have to go back and work out a scene that I skipped over.
3. A couple of minor dialogue issues.

So, I'm expecting that by the time I finish the rewrite, it just might creep up to around 110 pages.

But does it have to be 110 pages? Well, that's the goal I've set for myself. And if you agree with the classic "a minute of screen time per page" estimate, then that's a pretty decent period of time for a first film. Most other films I'd lump it with average the same running time.

Ninety-something pages would be fine, but 110 pages is what I'm shooting for.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And the Award for Best Chunk of Dialogue from a Meet-Cute Moment Goes To...

Jeff Garlin, for this brilliantly catchy piece of work from his film, I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With (trailer)...

Beth: Did you want some more ice cream?

James: No, I really gotta stop eating ice cream. I need to lose some weight.

Beth: Yeah, I used to be chubby when I was a little girl.

James: Yeah, but I'm not a little girl.

Beth: No, you're a big girl.

James: Big pretty girl.

Beth: Big pretty girl wanna go for a walk?

Now, I don't know if this bit was actually written by Garlin, or improvised by him and his co-star, Sarah Silverman, but I think it's the best part of a movie I haven't even seen yet.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Halfway Mark

I've finally hit the halfway mark on my first draft, and man, is it a great feeling. This thing is really shaping up, though I know it's only the first draft. I plan to let it sit for a couple of weeks after I'm done, after which it'll probably look completely stupid. But I don't care about that right now. A completed first draft is infinitely better than no draft at all.

My characters also seem to be shaping up as I write, which is probably good, since I only did a basic writeup of them before starting. But it's the outline that's literally saving my ass on this. If I didn't have the story worked out on paper, I'd never have gotten this far. The draft has veered away from the outline at some points, but overall I think it's for the better.

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it isn't an oncoming train.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Deathly Obstacles

(WARNING: If you're one of the two remaining people in the world who haven't read the final book, stop reading this now. Spoilers abound.)

I've finally finished the final book in the Harry Potter franchise and I have to admit, I'm a bit depressed. I'm going to miss these visits to Rowling's magical world.

I've really enjoyed the ride, from Harry's first year at Hogwarts to the final showdown with Voldemort. Rowling certainly knows how to spin a great yarn as well as construct a highly detailed and believable world around it. However, I think this last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, kept me glued to its pages considerably more than the others. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed all the books. The characters and storylines have always been well done. But something about the story in this book was more exciting to me than the others, and I think I know why.

It's because Harry, Ron and Hermione don't actually get to Hogwarts until the very end of the book. Harry mentioned at the end of the sixth book that he wouldn't return to Hogwarts the next year so that he could spend the time searching for a way to defeat Voldemort. So, of course, Ron and Hermione had to come along.

This change in the traditional Potter story structure made all the difference to me. The three of them were literally babes in the woods, stripped of the security of Hogwarts. Sure, there were some exciting times at school, but there was always the presence of Dumbledore to protect them all and answer all their questions in the end.

Here, there's no shelter, no protection, and no Dumbledore. They have to fend for themselves (shoplifting under the invisibility cloak...although Hermione always leaves money behind) and now that Voldemort's returned and has his followers hunting Harry around every corner. Things happen fast and furious and everyone is tested to their limits. Quite a few people die, but this is war.

Reading this was a great screenwriting lesson for me. If you really want to create conflict and obstacles for your characters, take away their safety net. Drop them into a totally unfamiliar place and let them wiggle their way out of it. No one wants to see a character muddle through their blandly familiar surroundings as nothing out of the ordinary happens to them. Shake things up a bit.

And I defy any of you who have read The Deathly Hallows to tell me you didn't tear up in chapter 34.