13-04-30 Pre-Production

    There is this problem all writers, perhaps all creatives face. Simply because what I do doesn't look like what you might do, it's easy for you to assume that what I'm doing isn't work. Let me assure you, it's work!

    I listen to a podcast called The Q & A with Jeff Goldsmith, where Jeff interviews screenwriters. It's really helpful. One of my mile-markers of success is to get on that show! In it, Jeff usually asks the writers the question, "What's your writing schedule look like? How many hours a day do you spend writing?"

    However, I think those two questions are a little misleading, for me at least. There are two kinds of writing, soft writing, where I think about the plot, the characters, the locations, the subject, how all of it interweaves into a coherent and riveting story. Soft writing also includes research, which may take months and involve a lot of travel to meet with various experts, or to scout locations to get a clear picture in my head.

    Hard writing is when I actually sit down in a chair, with my laptop and start writing.

    To do both requires large swaths of time where it appears I'm relaxing. But, that's not the case.

    The reason I bring all this non-TRK stuff up isn't to gripe or to get certain people off my back, but to let you into my creative process.

    Along those lines, relaxing is actually a part of it. For me, writing and directing are very different head-spaces. I feel like I have to shift the entire way I come at life. When I'm directing, I'm extremely aware of my environment, of the sounds, of the light. I'm also aware of the people around me: what is the current vibe on set? Is everyone in the emotional state necessary to do the scene? Is the DP focused, or is there some home issue he needs time for? Are the actors hung-over from a night of partying, or are they present, in the moment, ready not just to regurgitate lines, but listen and respond?

    Being in charge, on set is very fast-paced. There's a phrase that gets bandied about a lot in the movie industry: "hurry to wait." It means there are times where you have to work your butt off, then times where you can sit for hours while other parts of the movie-making machine do their thing. That's not the case for the director. All of those parts are always looking to the director, either for direction, or information, for me to set the mood, for me to tweak or approve or praise when someone does something awesome.

    Writing is a completely different experience. I forget my environment. I have to focus on my imagination, sometimes so completely that I forget to eat. If my wife didn't come home after her day-job, I'd probably forget dinner and perhaps forget to sleep as well.

    I have no idea what people are up to, if there's a jackhammer outside. I have to create a universe in my mind, detailed and nuanced. Then, I have to populate it with people who aren't simply caricatures, or copies of other people. They have to be unique and real, dynamic, completely human, so that when the time comes for me to show the script to an actor, they are blown away and can only say, "YES!" when I offer them a role.

    That happened with The Root Kit version 1.4.

    I've been doing the same with version 2.01. I just finished the draft where all the pieces are in play. In the next draft, I've got to make sure that the game makes sense. The following draft will be to perfect dialogue, so all the characters sound and act in a dynamic, unique way. Then, I've got to do a final draft where I make sure all the technical stuff is as right as I can make it.

    Then, I send it off to my early readers. I take their notes and do another draft. Only after all that is finished, will I show it to my producer and we'll take it around to the studios.