I have been reworking an old script – MUTAGENE – a zombie horror feature, a script originally penned as a possible first feature shoot over 8 years ago. Initially I was just polishing off the formatting and tightening the descriptions etc as per the new Script Formatting guidelines and then with horror I realised that the previous rewrite was incomplete and that I had somehow mislaid at least 20 pages of script! This was due to previous work related drama when the company I worked for went under and I was forced to direct all my energies to securing a new job and I must have just forgotten that any partial work had been carried out….
But rather than it being a case of panic and self-recrimination, and go back to an earlier draft, it has actually made me re-evaluate the existing plot and tackle the structure using a new technique.
Syd Field’s Screenwriting Workshop DVD recommends that you begin the creation of your script structure by first setting out the story in a one sentence format, then once you’ve decided on what will occur in your three acts you need to set the story down in narrative form – in a 4 page treatment. The obvious advantage of this is that you can see how the story flows, work out if it is worth pursuing to a full feature script and possibly even use it as a selling tool – once you get to the pitch delivery stage. Of course, I’ve always taken the shortest route and just ploughed straight into writing a feature script – totally unplanned…. not recommended.
Anyway, the treatment concept is fine, but the example he quotes on the DVD is too ‘pat’ and too mainstream for my tastes. MUTAGENE is an odd script and I am having a devil of a time working out which direction I take Act 2 in. If it was exactly as per Syd’s example it would make for a very dull film. The more usual way to construct the narrative for Act 2, as I have learned, does not slavishly devote itself just to the main character.
I have sought the advice of some very wise scribes in the Screenwriting for Hollywood Linked In group and it has opened up some new possibilities for me.
I can do this! I just need to make the right choices now and not do my classic – ‘ignore this phase and dive into the script’ just because that is more fun. I will stick with it. I think the core concept is different enough to deserve to be lensed and interesting enough to sell.