Friday, 24 May 2013

Writing Assignment Tracker VII

First draft revisions delivered.  Last week in fact, but still took a week more than the contract stipulated (five not four).

Honestly, it was a tough pass at the script.  The notes were good – none of this 10% funnier nonsense, at least not stated explicitly.  Surely every pass at a romcom should aim for that?  But the areas that needed most work were clearly identified, solves agreed upon, the way ahead stretched before me like the M1.

And yet.  Unpicking a script that you’ve worked on for six months already, doing some fairly chunky structural re-engineering, retro-fitting a new character trait and a more apposite expression of ‘theme’: these can all be hard tasks to get your head around.  Particularly if you’re still feeling like the main work has already been done, and that this is all dusting and buffing.

Of course, it isn’t.  Some of the hard work has been done but most of it lies ahead.  Even now, after a painstaking first draft and a five week polish, I’d imagine we’re probably only 25% of the way there.  That was my experience on CHALET GIRL, certainly.  Who knows how this project will continue to develop, but one thing’s for sure: it will develop.  Director – changes.  Cast – changes.  Budget, schedule, locations – changes, changes, changes.

But for now, I can only concentrate on what’s in front of me.  Solving the problems we’re aware of.  Improving areas I know can be improved upon.  But being reasonably fatalistic about the process too, and understanding that this is just another step on the journey.

That approach helped me through these revisions when I found myself staring at the screen and thinking ‘is this the best I can do?’.  Well if you can’t come up with anything better right now, and if you’ve tried all your usual tricks and you’ve still been staring at the screen for half an hour, then technically this probably is the best you can do.  So put it in, or leave it in, and move on.  You’ll get other chances to make it better, other passes.  Chances are the solution isn’t going to be found in this scene, it’ll be found in the scene before it, or ten scenes before it, so you were probably looking in the wrong place anyway.  So it might need to wait for another draft, anyway.

So I made this pass as good as I could, within reason, within the notes and within the approximate time suggested.  And I feel like I’ve done my job.  One of the benefits of doing this Writing Assignment Tracker has been the ability to see the process as just that – a process, a journey, an evolution of a script.  You think Richard Curtis knocks out a filmable script at first draft?  Everyone needs a few runs at it, even the greats (canonically speaking).  Trust yourself, trust the process, and let it be.

Finally, the updated grid.  I got my first call on this project during the Olympics, so it’s been something close to ten months on this project already.  Time flies, and we’re still ahead of schedule.  But the big question is what next?  Is this draft ready to send to a director?  Or does it need another pass?  And does that automatically make it the Second Draft?  Or are we getting into cheeky-unpaid-revisions-that-you-won’t-find-anywhere-in-the-contract territory?  This team has been more than fair with me so far, so I doubt it.  But I get a sense we’re nearing the End of the Beginning on this project.  Who knows what’s around the corner?



Sched / Actual

Delivery Date
Sched / Actual

+/- Schedule


First Draft Treatment

1 month



Initial Step Outline

2 weeks



Initial Step Outline client comments

4 days



First Draft Treatment

2 weeks


-1 Day


First Draft Treatment client comments

3 weeks



Client comments

2.5 weeks


+3 Days


Second Draft Treatment

10 days



Writer response (not treatment)

2.5 weeks


-4 Days

Client comments

3 weeks



Second Draft Treatment

10 days


-1 Month


Second Draft Treatment client comments

4 weeks



Client comments


-1 Week


First Draft

12 weeks



9 weeks


+2 Weeks


First Draft client comments

8 weeks



3 weeks


+7 Weeks


Revised First Draft

4 weeks



5 weeks


+6 Weeks


Revised First Draft client comments

2 weeks




Second Draft

4 weeks




Second Draft First Set

6 weeks




Second Draft Second Set

6 weeks