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Getting the Bloody Screenplay Right

Film Director Ridley Scott once said, “the hardest single thing you do is get the bloody screenplay right.” Boy was he right!

When we were filming our scenes in October I was making changes up to the day of the shoot and minor changes on the set. Not sure how the cast viewed me – other than a minor pain in the butt but over the winter hiatus I tried to change my ways.

I spent the November through January firming the storyboards and writing the call sheets for the March shoot. And of course as that proceeded realised I needed to once again make changes – mostly minor - to the screenplay. My plan was that no more than a month before the shoot the screenplay would be firm – no more changes and the actors could learn their lines.

I think I managed it but in doing so made more substantial changes – down to adding and removing characters – in one case playing to the strengths of a specific actor - to the rest of the screenplay for the May and June shoots. That means (hopefully) that by the time we shoot it has been frozen for some weeks.

But of course its never that way!

In November we did a voice over with a high profile actor who was frankly awesome. However in one speech I had managed to write what can only be described as a major tongue-twister and had to rewrite it on the hoof in front of and for our actor – who of course was ultra professional.

In our October shoot I’d written a piece where the bad guy runs his hand through his accomplices hair - it was an idea to get the bad guy appear to be very creepy. We get to the set and the actor tries it and it just doesn’t work. It looks not creepy but frankly limp. The actor has a suggestion which works perfectly and that is what we shoot – so BIG thanks to the actor.

So, like the man said “the hardest single thing you do is get the bloody screenplay right.” And we’re still trying to get the bloody screenplay right even after we shout “Action”!

Post script. I also noted Ridley also said, “I started late. I didn't make my first movie until I was 40.” For my part this is my first feature and your really don’t want to know how close I am to getting the bus pass.....

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