MAKE A MOVIE TO IMPROVE AS A WRITER
Making a film is a long process that requires a lot of persistence. You’re going to have several speed bumps along the way so just slow down, go over them gently and continue on the path until you finally arrive at your destination.
As you take the journey, it’s important to take in the world around you. Enjoy the sights and sounds. Be present in the moment. Not only to appreciate where you are and the work you’re doing but also to soak in the knowledge you’re acquiring along the way.
As I filmed ‘What About Molly?’, I learned several lessons along the way. I learned more about composition, camera settings, camera movements, working with actors and lighting to name just a few. Now that I’m editing and retelling the story I have an additional opportunity to learn, explore and grow.
Through this new exploration, I’m able to look at the story we shot, the story that was written, and really see how it plays on screen. I can pinpoint things I did that worked really well and things that maybe could use a little work. I can see how my writing comes across on screen and make improvements on my next script.
Through the process of making a movie, I’m going to improve as a writer and here’s how.
TRANSITIONS WILL HAPPEN
You’re going to make mistakes and in those mistakes a transition starts to happen. Not just in the filming of the movie but in your writing as well. You may not see the mistakes as they lay on the page, but they will certainly slap you in the face when you see them in the edit. The transition comes when you learn from your mistakes.
My transition in ‘What About Molly?’ happens to come from scene transitions themselves. Quite the coincidence.
I passed a script over to a reader a few years back and their comment to me was to work on my scene transitions. I did just that. I researched and I wrote. I put a TON of focus on my scene transitions to the point where the story just POP’s on the page. Watching it unfold on the screen...it’s just sort of annoying.
Have you ever overused something you learn because you think it’s cool? That’s what happened here. One of the transitions I used is asking a question at the end of one scene and answering it at the beginning of the next. A great and simple way to transition but if you overuse it, it’s annoying.
I don’t think it’s something I noticed on the page when I wrote the story, however it’s very prominent in the film. By the time you get to the end of the movie, the transitions are so predictable that it starts to piss me off.
Now, I might be overreacting here. I do know the story like the back of my hand, every inch, every beat, every cut. This is going to make things stand out to me that others might not notice. However, I’ll take a learning opportunity anytime I can get one. The lesson here, don’t overuse anything in your writing.
Make sure your scene transitions are fun and unique. Don’t overuse the same transition over and over again as it will really stand out when you watch the film.
This lesson applies to every aspect of filming, but as it pertains to my writing, I’m talking about the story pacing.
As you write, the story will have ups and downs. You will put the audience on the edge of their seat in one scene and then bring them back in another. It’s all a flow and you need to understand how to play this game effectively.
Another thing I noticed in my edit is that I don’t let the movie breath enough. There is a moment, towards the end of the film, where Molly is finally starting to win. The issue...I never really let her enjoy it. The fall from grace is so quick and so drastic, I don’t give the audience enough time to breath.
Again, on the page the movie reads like a car chase. In the edit, it’s even faster. The lesson here is to let your moments breath a little bit. If your character is losing, let them lose for a few scenes. If they are winning, let them win for a few scenes. The transition shouldn’t be so drastic. Take a look at your own script, did you let the scenes breath a bit?
You don’t HAVE to make a movie to improve as a writer, but it’s certainly helped me. If this isn’t an option for you, worry not, you can learn from ME!
The purpose here is to slow you down and really think about your writing. Look at the script in a different way. Your focus has probably been on story, beats and character for so long, you’re likely not seeing the small stuff that can make a difference.
Take a moment, step back and look at your story from an analytical point of view. Are you overusing transitions? Are you letting your characters live in the moments for longer than a single scene?
- The Failed Filmmaker