Monday, December 28, 2009

Colour Me Crazy (Priorities - 2010, Part 2)

Amidst the haze of festive celebration and work-free exuberance, I have been considering next year's writing assignments. Those few who have seen it, snicker at my excel spreadsheet that lists every single project - short, feature, tv series, play - I have tackled. Fifty-two (yes, 52) in total at last count (including 15 features and 3 short features). Some never survived past synopsis or concept stage, others have multiple drafts, a few were still born during the first draft. I keep tabs on these things as even the defunct scripts may have snippets of ideas or characters that could prove useful at some future date.

Some observations on going through the list - I am a screenwriter not a playwright. I want to write features not shorts. My natural inclination is high concept genre. I should stop running away from that. Practice makes, if not perfect, then more competent in the craft of screenwriting and visual storytelling. I think I'm ready now to write the sort of scripts that truly showcase my storytelling ability.

What does this mean for 2010? Less projects to actively work on for starters! Follow my story-telling instinct and not be boxed into thinking I have to write "Australian" films (whatever that means). Relinquish those scripts whose time has passed. Move onto new material.

This means The Tangled Web which has been optioned twice, received money from the AFC under their new screenwriters grant, at one stage had Tom Jeffrey (The Odd Angry Shot) attached as a "mentor producer", interest from Sam Worthington in the lead role, and has had 13 "official" drafts (who knows how many 'revisions'), goes in a drawer.

It means another favourite - In Total Unity - may only find renewed life as a co-production with the story reset to Hong Kong. That may depend entirely on whether I go to HAF in March.

The Red Bride remains very much active and I would expect to be doing new drafts throughout 2010.

But the new feature project will be a high concept hybrid genre piece (war meets supernatural thriller) called Trench. The concept excites me and I'm itching to begin ... but this one will be outlined and planned well in advance of script stage. In many ways, it is a logical successor to Iron Bird which also utilised both these genres.

On the television series front, I presented 6 concepts to my Forgeworks colleagues for T-Vis but tonight I decided which one I want to work on. Yes, the high concept science fiction drama that actually started life as the first script I ever wrote (just awful in terms of execution but has lots of nice ideas and is instructional as to what kind of writer I should be). Chances of being made by an Australian network? Zero. My interest level and passion? Off the charts. So stuff it, I'm going to write the daylights out of it.

Anything else - In and Under, Don't Come Monday, The Tangled Web et al - will require a producer pushing me to work on due to interest in the form of serious money to progress to production.

Finally, NO MORE FAVOURS. By this I mean writing assignments for friends or colleagues for no or minimal payment. I am starting to appreciate the value of time as a screenwriter and anything that takes me away from my main focus is detrimental.

As an aside, I sit here writing this at 4am when it is a lovely 22.4 degrees celcius. It is going to hit 40 today - hot in anyone's language. While I'm on holidays I can stay up crazy hours to write in cooler conditions and sleep during the day. What I'd give to be able to do that all the time!

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