Monday, 21 July 2014

Story is everything: developing and writing a script


A script premise that I felt was complete in having a fully rounded plot with a strong theme of spying at the heart of it. As well as promising to fit nicely into an 8 minute film that met the criteria the script needed in order to be produced.

This post comes from a highly regarded dissertation length reflection piece I wrote for the Planning and Making a Film module I undertook in the penultimate year of my BA (Hons). The module's practice was undertaken between October 2011 to June 2012 and it provided me with a hugely enriching experience. For a more detailed overview of the module and the projects I undertook as a part of it, see Planning and Making a Film: The student filmmaking experience.


Aside from having two different script ideas be submitted for my outline and rough draft, my script development process suffered a few more setbacks before I arrived at the idea that became Busybody

Prior to Busybody I had explored six other ideas:

The Winter Blues – About a protagonist who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder and that condition eventually helps him to get out of a conspiracy he finds himself in. (This idea got a bit ridiculous, though).

Float My Boat / It’s a Student Life – This dealt with a group of students who conspire to steal a large sum of money from their Landlord. However, when they break into his house they discover that he has a network of cameras installed in all his properties; including theirs! (This one would have been in the style of Ocean’s Eleven but it got a bit too bloated). 

Idle Time – About a workshy youth who discovers he has the ability to stop time and then proceeds to use this power to his advantage. However, he has to face the consequences when he discovers he is unable to restart time. (This one I submitted for my outline, but I never intended to develop it further).

Mr. MacGuffin / P.S. - About two people who share the same birthday and also share the power of telepathy. It is then revealed that one has stolen the other’s identity and the other one wants it back. (This one I submitted for my rough draft but abandoned it because it was way too complicated). 

Family Matters – About a father who becomes disillusioned with his family due to a family secret. (However, I couldn’t work out an effective family secret, so I never got past the opening for this one).

Downtime – Concerned a protagonist who is ordered to de-stress his life by his GP. However, this proves somewhat problematic in a world that seems to be stress driven. (This one had a good opening and closing but with a really dull middle).

In addition to not being happy with any of the ideas above, I think I one of the problems in my script development period was I struggled to remain focused on developing a script, before and after Christmas. This was due to a number of factors; not least two other scripts, Xbox Junkie and The Gaming Complex, that I was developing and which I was putting much more effort into.

Mike had suggested that we should have look at the book A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young; which explains the process the mind goes through to assemble an idea: “the production of ideas, too, runs on an assembly line; that in this production the mind follows an operative technique which can be learned and controlled.” That operative technique is as follows:


The fact I eventually managed to come up with a seventh script idea in the space of just under an hour shows I did unknowingly go through the five step process. With my exploration of the earlier script ideas acting as stage two of the process: “the working over of these ideas” that my subconscious eventually stitched together into the premise of Busybody. A script premise that I felt was complete in having a fully rounded plot with a strong theme of spying at the heart of it. As well as promising to fit nicely into an 8 minute film that met the criteria the script needed in order to be produced. 

However, I now know from actively taking it on myself to apply this technique for production of ideas to other assignments and creative problems, if I had consciously done the same thing with the script assignment before Christmas I would have produced a full-fledged script Idea sooner and with lot less trouble. 

None the less, though, that Idea probably wouldn’t have been Busybody, an idea I’m very fond of now, and this has proved a valuable experience to learn from. As I study Creative Writing nurturing a creative skill like the five step process is something that is incredibly important in my work and, therefore, was worth the trouble I went through to develop and write Busybody.

Next: One Door Ajar: Developing a Script for Production
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