Archive for July 2009

Oh, Yeah — We Write These Things To Be Produced

July 20, 2009

For the past six weeks I’ve struggled with the rewrite of the Wedding Comedy, trying to integrate the various notes of the producers, the star and the Director.  It’s the first time I’ve ever rewritten with an actual production (theoretically) looming, and I’ve suddenly been confronted by the fact that the words I put on the page actually have real life implications.

Some of the issues we’ve discussed have been nuts-and-bolts type things: this scene would be too expensive, combine this scene and that scene so we don’t need an extra location, change this from night to day, and so on.  But this line of practical thinking has continued in unusual directions…One of the issues  we’ve discussed that I find particularly interesting centered around the lead female character, the hero’s wife-to-be: in particular, the fact that she’s really a non-character. Oh, she’s got dialogue and she serves a purpose in the story, but as the Director put it, “Why would any actress want to play her?” And the answer is, I have no clue.

The question was particularly jarring for me in that I’ve lived with these characters in my head for so long, I almost have trouble with the notion that, oh, yeah, a real person is going to be paid to pretend to be each of them when the cameras start rolling.  Why the hell would any actor want to play one of these roles, aside from the paycheck?  Is the character interesting?  Is she funny?  Does he have a back story, a ghost that’s haunting him?  Does she seem like a real person?  What do they do for a living, and how does that matter in the context of the story?  It’s not enough that the character’s name is on the page; you’ve got to make sure that there’s enough there so that an actor can make that character a person.

Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but the Director’s simple question has ended up blowing my mind on a fundamental level.  So often we write in a vacuum; sometimes it takes someone else to open the door and let some fresh air in.  Lesson learned — the next time I sit down to plot out a new story and crank out a first draft, I’m going to make sure that all of my characters are there on the page from the beginning, so I don’t find myself retrofitting back story and personality traits five or ten or twenty drafts down the road.

That’s assuming I ever finish this project, of course.

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I Should Be a Politician

July 15, 2009

Does anybody believe me anymore when I say I’m going to post regularly again?  Hell, at this point *I* don’t even believe me.  Hopefully one of these days.

Reader (and new papa) Shawn  has unwittingly shamed me into posting again.  What can I say, I was raised Catholic; I respond to guilt like Pavlov’s dogs responded to ringing bells.

Check the bottom of the comments here for Shawn’s message and my long-winded but well-meaning response; consider this my latest post.  Oh, and here’s a bonus Cliff’s Notes update: the Peanut has turned one, she’s walking, talking (sort of), eating solids (mostly) and usually failing miserably to sleep through the night.  The Wedding Comedy has gone through a number of trials and tribulations but is still on course for a September production — I’m neck deep in the rewrite right now and praying that I’m not ruining the damn thing.  And the Missus miraculously still hasn’t divorced me yet despite my various neuroses, hang-ups and occasional bouts of flat-out craziness; today is our third anniversary, which we’re celebrating by dealing with the Peanut’s latest eye infection.

Thanks for checking in.