Every film is created three times


The first time is when the writer writes the script.

The second time is when the cast and crew shoot the film.

The third time is when the editor assembles the final edit.

Each time the script is recreated, it’s made from a narrow range of materials. The writer has a concept and some characters in mind, plus what they know can be done on film. The cast and crew have the locations and characters in the script. The editor has the footage and sound recording.

And that’s why the movie I wrote, which I saw last night for the first time, was interesting but didn’t really work. I know there were troubles in production–trouble with sound, with actors not showing up for calls, all sorts of things. It occurs to me (much too late to do anything about it) that Terry Rossio’s advice to never write a thriller screenplay in which everything is super-tight and the plot is built scene by scene. If your script is so taut that it comes apart if some scene is changed or dropped, then it’s going to come apart in production because stuff gets changed all the time.

So, the movie isn’t successful. It’s interesting, and I think it would be interesting to people who weren’t involved in the production. Not what-an-interesting-story interesting, but this-weird-shit-is-affecting interesting, if you know what I mean. Because you can’t really follow the story: big chunks had to be dropped, including an establishing scene for a very important character. In this edit, the protagonist’s sister doesn’t turn up until the third act, and you have no idea who she is or why the protagonist is searching her house.

And there are more issues. It’s flawed but interesting and affecting.

When the film gets distribution (even if it’s only on Netflix) I’ll post the script online. Folks might be interested in seeing the changes between the script version and the final film.

And I’m really glad I’m a novelist now. It makes things so much simpler.

2 thoughts on “Every film is created three times

  1. Congrats on seeing your film on the big screen! Must be very fun.

    In theory the little DVD things I’ve done have to get a theatrical distribution for union rules, but those happen at obscure theaters in Encino or something.

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