A Short Film Experiment Update (#4)

So today I finally got round to actually scripting this chase film, after several weeks of ‘outlining’ (read: procrastination) and the realisation that I won’t have any idea what it’s going to look, sound, smell or taste like until I get the words down on the page – and even then it’ll only be a guess.

It’s actually been a pretty strange process this time around: usually with shorts I list all of the scenes then write all of the description or action that needs to happen in the first pass, and once I’m satisfied that everything’s where it’s meant to be, I take a run at the dialogue.

It’s not that I’m scared of the dialogue and writing it is like producing wine from my wang – quite the opposite. I love dialogue, actually, and often the problem is that I have so much fun getting the characters talking to each other that it completely derails any momentum that might have been built in the action until they opened their dumb mouths.

So I get the action in place as markers to essentially remind me THIS IMPORTANT THING HAPPENS HERE and that all the dialogue really needs to be is informative colour for each scene, rather than an actor’s showcase. So if I can’t see a sentence that runs the width of a page anywhere onscreen, it’s usually a hint that my guys are getting a little carried away.

This time, though, I wrote the first couple of scenes fully – chatter and all – then got scared of the middle and decided to write the end. After that it came to me that I wasn’t exactly clear on what my characters wanted to talk about (the plots of most chases aren’t particularly oblique, so the only expository lines that are needed are just to flesh out the world and characters, and can run almost separately to what’s on screen). So I opened up a scratchpad on Celtx and got Natasha and Clint – those are their names, FYI – yakking.

[I also made a playlist tailored to the genre for the first time. Have a listen if you like.* You can pretend you’re in my head and start pulling at the wires:]

Turns out the pair had a lot to say about things I didn’t know they would. Not too much, thankfully, but there’ll likely be fat to cut off as ever. Dialogue may well be my favourite part of the writing process, which might be a subconscious hint that I should think about seriously giving playwriting a go (though the lack of boundaries may result in a little overindulgence…).

Now it’s just a matter of deciding when they say the damn lines. More as it happens, but I’m hoping to have this first draft done by the end of the night, with my playlist to guide me.

*Oh, and if you have any suggestions for good chase music from movies or anywhere, I’d sure appreciate it.

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