Creating something — whether it be art, music, literature, a new company, a product that you want to sell on the interweb to make your million — happens in two distinct phases. In the first you, and your idea, exist in a pocket universe* that is completely separate from our known reality. It’s your baby, your own, your precious, and you must protect it as it cannot possibly survive out in the cold on its own. Perhaps you invite a few trusted allies to visit your pocket universe, and introduce your idea to them, and try not to feel like you’re going to the bathroom naked in the middle of your high school English class (I’m not the only one with that recurring nightmare. Right?) — in other words, totally exposed and absolutely ridiculous. But for the most part it is kept in solitary confinement while you nurse it into being.
My, that’s a gooey metaphor. Did I get any on you? So sorry for the mess.
In my case, this phase was me writing the script.
Curtains is inspired by a short comic called My Old Costume my friend Matt Brossard wrote in 2002. We were working on a comic book together called The Blend. If you ever come across one of these bad boys be sure to snag it. Could be worth something some day! (Oh I jest! But it’ll make me feel good.) We managed to publish two issues. It followed a group of people hanging out in a comic store talking about comics. Each issue featured three shorter stories (2-3 pages) that were the comics these characters were reading. My Old Costume was one such story. It was about four old women wearing circus costumes, playing poker and talking about their circus days.
In spring of 2011, Once Upon a Theatre Collective in Halifax, NS put out a call for 10 minute plays to be read at a fundraiser. I remembered Matt’s story and asked if I could play around with it. With his permission I started to flesh out these women, giving them back stories and adding more to their poker game.
I could go on and on (and on and ON) about all the forms the story took, how many drafts I have kicking around my office, and blah blah blah. While the creative process is incredibly important and I truly believe everyone has the ability to make art and should do so, hearing about the actual individual process is so. very. boring. Allow me to summarize by saying that I heard about a film program here in Halifax for emerging filmmakers that was looking for 5 minute ideas. It seemed like a fun thing to do** and I had someone interested in working on it with me (but that’s getting into phase two, so more on that later). So I started re-writing, again.
I’m not going to go into any sort of info on script writing. There are a ton of amazing books on the subject, and I am certainly no expert. All I will say is that if you are interested in writing a screenplay of any length, be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get real dirty. And if you’re interested in filmmaking but not so much the writing part, do everyone a favour and don’t write it yourself. There are plenty of talented writers, established and emerging, and you’re better to get one of them on board than to muddle along yourself.
That’s it for my phase one. Next up, phase two where I actually have to (gulp) share my stuff with the outside world.
* Yes, I’ve been watching this season of Fringe. Why do you ask?
** Famous last words
Cover of The Blend, Issue #2, by Matt Brossard