Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dealing with Deadlines, Disappointments & Crises

I never set out to write a blog that espoused the do's and don'ts of screenwriting theory and good writing. There are far better qualified people - John August, Scott Myers, Karel Segers for example - who do that brilliantly with great authenticity, wit and skill. What I AM qualified to discuss is my personal journey in the wonderful world of film from an Australian perspective...

... and I gotta tell ya, it's been a rough month for various reasons.

My feature script didn't make the quarterfinals of Scriptapalooza which was a disappointment and abrupt reality check. I entered it after a burst of positive feedback that I'm now thinking gave me a level of confidence that was artificially inflated --

Complacency being the death of a screenwriter.

But I have a new draft to deliver so try and put the disappointment to one side and soldier on.

At present I'm deconstructing the entire script as the general consensus appears to be - well written, too complex, not commercial. The problem with that is, pulling out threads tends to unravel the whole piece as most of you would know. The other problem is time - deadlines loom and the brief of 'simplification' is turning into a major rewrite.

I'm actually enjoying the process - I'm throwing around scenes (for example, a scene that was near the end of Act Two is now the midpoint) but I'm running out of hours. The added pressure is that I have a director and producers waiting on pages to finalise a funding submission. If that wasn't bad enough life has been intruding in various ways - namely health and, as of today, work.

The health scare was prompted by a visit to a GP who I think was channeling Peter Lorre. Not my regular doctor mind you. He had the indecency to go on leave.

Me: I have this discomfort in my chest (points to area over the heart)
Peter Lorre: *manic laughter* then - Have you come from the Emergency Ward?
Me: (pondering this rather strange reaction/question) - a hesitant 'No'
Peter Lorre: Rate the pain from one to ten...
Me: Well, I wouldn't call it pain, it's more --
Peter Lorre: [Insert very long lecture about going to emergency whenever you feel chest pain] The only words I hear are: Heart and Attack... in that order
Me: Say what?!
Peter Lorre: nearly falling off his chair in a frenzy when he discovers I have a family history in this regard. More lectures. FINALLY takes out his stethoscope and checks chest.

Suddenly, we're discussing inflamed cartilage and ribs.

Me: Huh?
Peter Lorre: Just to be sure, we need to do an ECG.
Me: Okey dokey... so, not a heart attack then?
Peter Lorre: Probably not... but I'd like to be sure.
Me: thinking, you and me both, buddy!
On return from ECG...
Peter Lorre: Your blood pressure is a little high, but that's probably because you're anxious.

Then a battery of subsequent tests - blood, cholesterol, stress ... a heart ultrasound. To which everyone doesn't seem too concerned (except possibly my bank manager). Appears I strained cartilage somehow in an area inconveniently over my heart. Tell you what though, a bloody big wake-up call to lose weight, eat properly and exercise more.

Through this - still writing.

Then today. Get in a little late to work - to find out my boss in Sydney has scheduled a phone hookup with me. Hmmmm, we spoke only yesterday... but there's a big hookup for later in the day announcing an organisational restructure. Stomach churning, make the call...

To find out I have been made redundant.

Start wondering what Peter Lorre would make of outbreak of new physical symptoms --

Me: stunned
Boss: attempts at calming platitudes
Me: jaw on floor
Boss: ... paperwork... ring me any time... 2 weeks... HR...

Call suddenly over and I'm gasping for air like a goldfish whose fish tank has been teleported to another universe.

Goodbye part-time job, goodbye some 22 years with the same company in two stints (yes, literally half my life... to this point), goodbye financial security and comfort zone.

Didn't feel like writing today.

Went to see Inception instead. Suitably complex enough to distract my brain from a whole lot of nasty - what the fuck do I do now? - type questions.

Deadline perilously close. People waiting on me and the new draft. Must write.

In fact, I suspect disappearing into a world of my own creation - Inception style - might be the best remedy. That and this blog posting.

People say you should write every day. But damn if it ain't hard some times...


  1. 認識自己,是發現妳的真性格、掌握妳的命運、創照你前程的根源。............................................................

  2. Quite the mensis horribilis, then. Sending you positive vibes, buddy!