Ever since I have decided that I am going to write a feature film I have had a mini mental block. I have no idea for a story that I think will make a good feature length film. I do not even have a genre preference. My short films were all couples related, comedic with a twist. A five-minute film, however, is a lot different from a ninety to a hundred minutes feature.
It is not even the long form that I am worried about. My favourite type of writing or story is the serial, with the arc running the entire season. Two ideas I have tackled and written are first episodes of serial ideas. Even when I wrote a sitcom it was with a six episode arc in mind. I seem to find it difficult to think in terms of a self-contained, eighty, ninety or hundred minute film.
Even as I write the above words I know it’s silly. After all, the length of a project is entirely up to me. Obviously, some subjects lend themselves better to a more detailed – serial – approach and others work better as a short format. Still, no idea or scenario is presenting itself as something to tackle with the potential to become a feature length script.
I am thinking to just start writing, a bit like my approach to blogging sometimes, I write and something comes to me. This is not always the best approach, as even I have to admit that at times the blogs have meandered on occasion, the subject matter sometimes petering out. The reason I write a blog every day – one day film related, one-day fitness and mind related, alternating – is that waiting for inspiration to write was not working.
Sure, I would occasionally get inspired and write furiously and passionately about some subject. Unfortunately, it would sometimes be months between blogs and, practically speaking, writing so in frequently is not the best practice. I feel that my forced practice of writing everyday is more beneficial than hoping or praying for inspiration.
It is a practice that I think I may have to adopt in relation to screenwriting. Probably not on a daily basis, but thrice weekly at the bare minimum. One cannot be a screenwriter or filmmaker without producing some kind of work, whether it is writing, filming or editing, because without the doing I am just another bloke dreaming of accolades without the work.
I also believe that one’s brain adapts to the patterns and challenges you throw at it. My decision some months back to write everyday means that I am thinking about what to write or searching for a subject to write about everyday. I know that I am going to write a blog and on which blog it is going to be posted, so I am – or my brain is – always searching for something I feel I can bring my voice to or maybe write about from an unusual angle.
My thoughts are that I need to focus on storytelling. Though dialogue is my strength when script writing, people watch and enjoy films and shows for the story and the journey the story takes them on. The mechanics of story and scenes are something that can be studied extensively, with many a film guru or scholar on YouTube, blogs, Facebook and at seminars happy to tell you all the things you need to do to write the ‘perfect’ screenplay.
Three act structure, five act structure, fifteen point plot map, the twenty-two must use elements, so many possible ‘right’ methods to adopt or follow, but when all is said and done, it is still people doing stuff that they care about or cared for, that create stories that you might empathise with.
The upshot of all of this waffle is I need to start writing more fiction. Writing and wanting to write is what has ultimately driven me thus far. It is time to get even more strategic; it’s story time.