I have this life goal to master and write in as many genres as possible and master them all. Recently I embarked on a challenging journey where, in an intensive three week course, where the pace is fast and there's very little time for anything . There's this pressure to learn on your feet and the deadlines are intense. It was also my first introduction to screenwriting which was both excruciating and inspiring all at the same time. Many of my most valuable lessons in film writing I've learned so far have been through an experience that happened recently where I had two nights to pull off a screenplay. Ever since I've been keen to share those insights.
Here are some I picked up in this short period of time that are much more valuable than any book or university level lecture can possibly provide:
#1: if someone asks you to write in a particular genre and finish a final draft in two days or less that, due to your lack of experience takes you longer don't do it:
The only exception: if you want to write a raw, based on a true story script about sleep deprivation. Working on super tight deadlines and no time will most likely force late nights and minimal sleep and exhaustion leads to one or more parts of the script making zero sense. One of the hardest things I had to do was provide a mediocre script to people I don't really know all that well that I had no time to make better and watch as people had way too many questions and were confused about logistical details. I think it made the story rawer because I ran on so little sleep that it was like writing while intoxicated without actually being intoxicated. My advice: read a lot on screenwriting before taking on these kinds of challenges, read lots of samples, and learn as much as you possibly can about it before attempting such insane deadlines. I'd read some stuff and attended some lessons on the screenwriting process but it wasn't nearly enough. The people I've met over the past week who are pros at it are people who read screenplays that were used in professional productions for fun. They have been the most helpful and accommodating and if any of you are reading this right now I am extremely grateful for all your help and hope to creatively collaborate with you as much as possible in the future.
#2: regardless of the shape the script is in, the results of the finished product, or the script's content people are grateful for and respect the writer's process and will listen to what you have to say: as someone said to me recently: the writer is essentially "the brain" of the production:
There were arguments, sure, people didn't always agree with my logic, also true but in more visual types of writing such as film and theatre there's this common goal to respect what the writer wanted. People never forget it's your story. No matter how distant from reality it actually is it's got so much of you in it and that's what makes it one of the hardest things to do with your life because it's an instance where you're vulnerable and metaphorically naked. For some people that's terrifying so when you take on the challenge people respect you. With something like this, unlike theatre and fiction the writer's role is in no ways god-like so yes it is the bones not the skin of the final product but they're your bones and everyone else has a responsibility to not make those bones fall apart.
Last but not least...
#4: collaborative writing is beautiful writing :
why? Because it's not just about you it's also about the efforts of many different people. Writers get too attached and want to control the entire process. Collaborative writing forces you to let go. It starts with you but it turns into the efforts of many people with a wide variety of personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses and then it turns into something you never expected because of the way the role of each and every individual changes everything.
by the end of this week my interest and understanding grew regarding something that was always around me, I grew up around, have always been fascinated by but never really got the chance to pursue and get further education in: film. For anyone out there who has had similar challenges: give intensive experiences that force you to be in the front lines a try. You can take as many classes as you want and read as many books as you want but there's nothing more valuable than tangible experiences and not being afraid to try things. Someone posted the short film we made on youtube today: the final title was "Jimmy and Joe". I don't have the link but if you see a short film posted there under that name that's the final product. If you watch it here's a warning so no one complains: there's a lot of swearing in it: don't show it to kids and if you have any problem with swearing don't watch it.