I’m channeling the wisdom of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" star Jude Law this weekend, to get a short film script ready for what I hope will be the final draft stage. I have a feeling, however, that there's probably more work to do before reaching that point. It’s been too damn long -- I mean, I expected to have this thing done, especially now that January has come and gone.
The story was simple enough but then I altered the script outline a bit to try to make it more interesting. Afterward, I got bored and was no longer interested in making the whole darn thing. Then, I went back to square one, with plans to just make a straight-to-video flick that I could sell, regardless of whether I was interested in the movie or not.
In April, I lost enthusiasm for taking the script from first draft to final draft and these days, I’m taking the story in a whole new direction after coming up with some ideas that I actually like, to finally create a workable script that could be both simple, yet interesting. So, what does this all have to do with Jude Law, you may be wondering? Well, I recently came across three quotes from this Tony and Oscar nominated actor, that reminded me of what making movies (especially independent films, in my case) is all about -- more specifically, what needs to be the motivation for writing the script.
Since a screenplay is the very foundation for which films are based upon, if I’m not enthusiastic about creating the story on paper, how in the world am I going to find excitement in shooting it?! So, any movie for which the writer has no motivation to complete is doomed from the start. Now don’t get me wrong, producing artificial enthusiasm for a movie CAN be done, at any stage of production for that matter -- but is it worth it in the end? No way! Or, at least not according to Jude Law, where his acting is concerned.
“The only film I ever made for money was something called Music From Another Room, which I really didn't like.” - Jude Law
This reminds me of one of the most expensive short films I’ve made to date, which serves as a lesson to not make the same mistake twice. The irony is that I lost money on this particular film rather than making dough and also ended up with a film that brings me all sorts of frustrating and annoying memories on top of that. I thought that by making a film that I could use to raise money for the one that I really wanted to make, I didn’t have to exactly be attached to the end result.
Similar thoughts crossed my mind while hitting mental roadblocks on the first draft of my current script -- “I don’t need great ideas for this, so long as I cast at least one actor who can attract sales based on who he or she is -- hell, this person doesn’t even have to have acting experience. The guys from The Skorpion Show on YouTube has a huge audience. Problem solved!” Thank goodness I knew that this was a destructive path to follow and thus, started trying to find a story angle that I at least find attractive enough to hold my attention while I work on the remaining scenes.
Therefore, being focused on a straight-to-video ending is not going to improve the script that I have right now nor will it suddenly make me fall in love with a story that I dislike. What good is earning money on a film that you wouldn’t champion at every chance you get or even defend against critics?! -- which brings me back to the basic point that focusing on an end result only serves as a distraction while I put together a screenplay that I don’t even care about. Solution: Make sure you like the script before moving on to the next stage.
Read part two, which includes another Jude Law quote and more scriptwriting observations!
Did YOU know that Jude Law was injured on the set of “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” leaving him with a broken rib?
If someone paid YOU $1 million to make a film based on a script that YOU loathed, would YOU do it?