Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bit Patterns Redux

Recently I completed the first draft of a screenplay for Intrepid, that old Star Trek fan film for which I've directed a number of episodes.  The story takes place shortly after the events of the pilot episode.  It was quite a journey getting it to the point where it made sense to me, let alone to the stage where it made sense to anyone who read it.  Events in the Intrepid universe overtook some of the plot points and I had to rewrite it, an actor who played a key role wasn't available so that meant another rewrite.  A lot of headscratching and aha moments occurred before the stage where it was actually, genuinely complete.

The night that happened, I had a short list of items I needed to change, points I needed to make and dialogue I had to invent.  One by one I got through them.  Completing the script came as a surprise – adding the last item meant adding some extra lines just to bring that scene to a natural end.  And... oh.... it's done.

This was in stark contrast to the first major story (in terms of mere wordcount) I'd written when I was younger and didn't really understand the concept of polishing the work.  Even though there was a huge gap between writing the first half and coming back to write the second half, I'd know since the very first paragraph what the very last line was going to be.  In those days I started at the beginning and wrote linearly until the end.  Writing those last words was an incredible experience and I was bouncing off the wall for days.
So the unexpected completion of Bit Patterns may have been a hint that I wasn't done with it yet.  Oh sure, it was finished but that didn't mean it was done.

So.  A couple of weeks ago myself and Nick had an extended discussion about the future of Intrepid and part of that was the other possible projects that were always there but never seemed to get to item one on the agenda.  We'd always wanted to do an original piece of work once Intrepid was at an end (if indeed it ever was – I once said to him that if Intrepid was a success we'd never be allowed to stop making it.).

I'd been thinking about the timescales, which made me squeak uncontrollably.  The next Intrepid script, Nick's Conviction of Demons, is a monster.  After the readthrough, I estimated that it'd have a running time of at least two and a quarter hours.  And that means a couple of years making it, though that depends on how efficient we can get.  Bit Patterns was almost as large.  So that meant a couple of years plus whatever additional time before we could have something full-sized and original finished.  That's a while to wait, since we've been doing Intrepid since 2003.

So I made a suggestion that I'd been thinking about all the previous week and after much soul-searching, we're going ahead with it.

And that means I'm re-writing Bit Patterns to be an original script.  Not Star Trek.  Original.  And once I've finished  - really finished – I'll be directing a Science Fiction film.  It feels great to be able to type that!  Even if it means that I've just given myself a lot more work for the same total of completed screenplays: 1.

What this means is that I have to do the obvious things such as changing character names.  What's possibly less obvious is that I also have to change the character motivations and backgrounds and relationships.  I have to change the technology.  I have to change the backstory of the whole universe it's set in.  And that's the say nothing of all the additional scenes that will be necessary to do establishing in a way that simply isn't required for Star Trek.

This will be an interesting experience.


1 comment:

mark.masson1 said...

cant wait to see the result, and maybe be a pert of it? ;-)