They say to write what you know. The only thing that I knew for sure from this entire venture was failure.
So that’s what I wrote about.
I’ve write. As a reader of this blog you know this. But this would be the first time that I would ever write a screenplay. Formatting is important. No matter what the field, having a correctly formatted piece means that your reader would understand that first, you’re somewhat competent; and second, that you give a shit.
I can’t tell you how many student film scripts I’ve read that were done in a word processor with just initials, colons, and lines typed out endlessly in double space. After a while if I saw a script that wasn’t properly formatted, I would put it aside. Details matter, and it’s easy to argue that the story could be great or that the concept is still worthy. However, I’ve found that the people that make the effort to do the small things right are the people that you want to work with. People that will finish and see the thing through.
I had no idea how to format and phrase a screenplay, so I referred to one of screenwriters that I admired the most, Aaron Sorkin. Somewhere out there on the internet are the teleplays of the entire third season of ‘The West Wing’. I think there’s only one real talent that I have, and that is the ability to read quickly. I devoured every single one of the teleplays in the course of a waking day. ‘The West Wing’ is still one of my favorite shows of all time and reading the words on the computer screen while pairing them to the series made me realize the mystical synergy of acting and writing.
So, I started, and predictably, it was painful. You have to realize that there is a rhythm, a way that words will leap off the page when said rather than read. That there is an economy of syllables and most importantly that film is a visual medium. What you can write in a paragraph of text can be conveyed in a single look.
Once I finished a first pass, then came the endless edits, first by myself, and then by others. A painstaking process where your creativity is flogged over and over, where the criticism is directed at your heart and soul, but you must divorce emotion from the constructive advice from the person editing. But, for the first time I was writing the parts that I wanted to play, challenges and all.
At a certain point it was an incredible feeling to be writing as if your life depended on it. Not only did it make my days more productive, but it was a skill that I felt that I could hone every day. Not that my output on any given attempt would be any good, there would be days that I would scrap a dozen pages of what I wrote. I realized that I couldn’t write if my mind was elsewhere, I had to be honed and focused on the matter at hand. Inspiration came infrequently, but when it was there, it was magic. And thus another new avenue of creative frustration came to bear.
That almost brings us up to date but my journey has basically taken me up to here. I’m still a neophyte in this world but I’m able to do the two things that I love: Act and Write. If it all ends tomorrow I’ll never have to ask “what if?”. I’ll never wonder in my waning years if it all could have been different if I leaped instead of staying the course. I’ll have stories to tell for the rest of my days and I could say that for a year of my life I was an actor, an honest-to-god working actor. Maybe that could be enough…
And then I had one of those moments…