12-08-20 Pre-Production

    Normally I won’t mention things on the weekends because I largely devote them to spending time with my Memi, my wife.

    That said, Memi, my older brother Paul, and I were out on Paul’s sail boat. He has a friend Jeremy whose dad is very rich. I mean, like.. world’s top 1,200 richest people.

    One of the locations I need for TRK is a nice house, preferably a mansion. I know a woman whose parents own just such a house near where I live. It would be really convenient to film there. I asked the woman about it. It turns out her mom has cancer. So, not a good time at all.

    Back to Jeremy.

    I asked Paul what the odds were of shooting in Jeremy’s dad’s house, because the one I was hoping for fell through. He said that it would probably be pretty easy. Not only that, but Jeremy is hoping to get into making movies. In fact, Jeremy has a masters in Creative Writing.

    Paul’s first suggestion is that I give Jeremy co-writing credit. The problem is, I’ve got a very specific vision and making that vision happen is why I’m currently an independent filmmaker. So, co-writing is out. But, Jeremy also has some musician friends and he might like to produce the soundtrack, which could work. I mean, I’ve got some ideas, but I’m certainly open to suggestion there, so long as the music fits the overall themes I’m aiming at.    

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    I met with Xander and we talked about the scene where his character, Will confronts his dad for the first time. Xander thought it would be nice to flip the standard, “I’m your father” thing around and just have Will recognize the dad right away and be pissed that his dad had once again intervened in his life.

    There’s a couple points I don’t agree with there. One, Will’s driving motivation is control to compensate for the fact that he’s been an orphan since he was twelve years old. It’s why he does what he does. It’s the ulterior motivation for every single choice he makes. If he’s got a powerful dad right around the corner, he would always feel like there’s a safety net. He would never truly be afraid and thus, he would never really be trying to find safety by controlling his environment.

    Here’s the cool thing. Xander’s idea is actually Will’s deep desire. He wants to see his dad. He misses not having any blood family. So, when Xander made that suggestion, it’s a clue to me that he’s actually beginning to think like the character. And, that is a sign that both the script affected him and that he’s a great actor. I cast Xander because I already knew the latter.

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    I finished making the micro changes suggested in Kaiser’s early reader notes. They were brilliant. Most of them were technical, some grammatical (it’s still a pretty early draft) and some were story/plot/character. All in all, I can’t thank my early readers enough. The script is way better because of what they had to say. The rest of the week I’ll be working on their macro notes.

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    Back, about six years ago, when I was writing short stories, trying to break in, I had an incredibly valuable insight that has changed the way I interact with notes on my writing. A note isn’t always about my writing. Sometimes it comes from the reader, their thoughts, their voice, the way they see the world. Even rarer, it comes from a place of envy, where the notes are bitter and caustic. If you find yourself in that situation, either leave the group, or if it’s just one person, kick them out. They have no real business in a group of people making a serious go at writing professionally, at least not until they work out a few of their personal demons.

    But, of the other kind, the good notes, it’s the writer’s job to ask, are the notes right? If the notes are right, are they right because they’ve addressed the issue or because they bring up a point that is actually something entirely different.

    When I wrote THE ACADEMY, I kept getting notes back from the producer saying, “Change this”. I would labor for a month and change it. She would then respond, “No. It’s still not right.” The problem was that the producer knew there was something wrong, but she didn’t know what it was. She thought she did, but she didn’t. Thus, her comments, while addressing that a real issue existed, failed to actually fix anything. The result, again, was that my fixes in no way fixed the problem. Figuring out the real problem and being able to fix it may be why writing well is so hard.