Sunday, August 17th, 2008 • 2 Comments on Woody and Me
Yesterday, I got my notification that my screenplay For Ever isn’t a finalist in the Virginia Film Office’s annual competition. It wasn’t really a surprise—it is, after all, my very first script—but I still had a moment of disappointment. I really love my story and I know it would make a good film. I received some terrific feedback, which was one reason I was interested in entering this contest. Some of the criticism reinforced what I already knew and there were enough positive and encouraging comments to make me want to jump back into the next draft. All in all, it was a good experience.
I saw Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona with Jae this afternoon and was reminded of my own screenplay because of how he explores non-traditional attitudes toward relationships. Of course, Allen’s film is about the different configurations of romantic relationships and my screenplay is about what defines a family, though there is a non-traditional romantic relationship at the heart of it all. While Allen’s story has an ironic sadness about it as the characters never seem to be happy with what they have in any given moment, my story has three women at odds with each other who learn to lean on each other in order to survive and come out stronger because of their bond. Oh, and there’s the most important difference between Allen and me, of course: Woody Allen gets his screenplays made into films while I’m still trying to figure out this game of screenwriting.
The hardest thing about writing a screenplay is getting the story to fit the time frame. In a novel, if you need two or three extra scenes to clarify the relationship between characters, you simply add another twenty or thirty pages to your manuscript. If that makes your novel run a little too long, you go back through and trim a paragraph from each of the rest of the chapters. It’s difficult to take anything out of a screenplay without sacrificing something, but sometimes it’s necessary in order to add something else that’s more important. I’m still learning how to do that.
As Jae (and my screenwriting professor) pointed out, I could always write For Ever as a novel. Tempting, but I’d really like to get it right as a screenplay. After all, it’s what Woody would do.