Friday, February 2, 2007

The Sum of All Parts

Collaboration is defined as follows by the Webster Dictionary:

Main Entry:        col·lab·o·rate
Pronunciation:        k&-'la-b&-"rAt
Function:        intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s):        -rat·ed; -rat·ing
Etymology:        Late Latin collaboratus, past participle of collaborare to labor together, from Latin com- + laborare to labor -- more at LABOR
1 : to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor

Granted, the intellectual part is a little iffy. However, I learned this past year that, though it might start with the script, by no means does it stop there.

Having had the great fortune to work with actors who brought to life the characters and worlds I had created on paper, I received a training that no screenwriting book could begin to touch on.

As screenwriters, we tend to work in a bubble. Alone for hours in our own head, and the characters we create become a sort of extended family. A family that we become protective of. Only we know what they are truly feeling and what they might or might not say. Well, until you actually work with actors, one-on-one, you’re only getting a small piece of the puzzle.

Think of your script as your baby. We bring it to life, but as with all children, we eventually have to put it out into the world. While out in the world, our children will come face-to-face with a number of different people and challenges, and each person and challenge will demand something new and intriguing from them. They’ll be seen in a different light from which we raised them. And that is great. It’s called growth.

Every script that I write equals potential. Potential to be more (and sometimes less) than what I perceived. My goal is to get a few others to also see this potential. What they see may be different. They may see things in characters I never realized. They may see other worlds that my characters can thrive in.

I also had the great fortune of writing, directing and editing two short films that SUCKED. But it’s what I learned in the process. I now understood the role of a director, that what was written on the page is not always so easily projected on screen. That the director must now take ownership of this material in order to film the best possible story. That lighting, setting, and actors take the place of simple words on a page.

I totally fell in love with editing, spending countless hours at my Mac cutting and splicing images to tell a story, while discovering moments that had not been on the page or been viewed from behind the camera lens. Editing is yet another step in bringing to life the potential for greatness - or at the very least, an entertaining movie.

So, pick up a camera, gather some actors, purchase some editing software. Writing is a craft, but making a movie goes beyond just the craft of writing. Understand the beauty (and frustration) of what you seek to be a part of. Knowing is half the battle.

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