Thursday, April 4, 2013

In Which We Consider Time, Money, and Pork

We're on our way.

I got the opening scene the way I like it.  I had to do a re-think, then a re-think of the re-think.  It's a matter of economy.  When you're putting together a film script, time is actual money.  Each page is about a minute of screen time, which can seem very generous . . . until you realize that a lot of minutes can be very, very expensive.  Which probably explains where cell phone providers got their data rate plans from . . .

Ideally, you want about ninety pages.  A hundred is pushing it, but doable.  When you're past a hundred and twenty, you're either related to someone famous or working on a Tolkien adaptation.  Depending on what type of script you're writing, ninety pages can be anywhere from nine thousand to ninety thousand to nine million.

Every page has to count.  Not only are you trying to get across the purpose of the scene, you also have to do it in a clever way, or at the very least a way that will keep an audience (or a reader) focused on your film.  If you run a scene too long, you better have a damned good reason, because while you might be working out a powerful family dynamic that is telling and evocative, your audience might be working out how quickly they can go take a whiz before shit starts blowing up again.

My opening is about three pages, which is reeeaallly pushing it, in my opinion.  Not only is it prelude, it has to be a grabber; considering I'm doing a comedy, it's gotta be witty as well.  So three pages, three minutes for that opening scene?  Might be too much.  And if you think three minutes isn't that long, hold your breath for three minutes and get back to me.

You have to ask if those three minutes are worth the time spent on them.  You have to wonder if everything on those pages is important and relevant to the story.  And you have to realize you've left yourself with only eighty-seven pages to do everything else.  They add up quicker than you'd think.

And even as I say this, I have to turn around and tell you it doesn't matter that much, in the long run.  Go ahead and write a two hundred page script, if that's what you have in you.  Just understand if you want to actually see it made, you're going to be hacking away at that thing like a fat man at a barbecue.

Getting the first draft done?  That's the easy part.  Then comes the second draft ...


  1. The advantage of working alone is that you have all of the power to do with the script what you will. The disadvantage,is that the thing is your baby and you don't want to cut all that much out.

  2. As a fellow writer, I can't help but agree that getting past that first draft is indeed rather like climbing a mountain...from the top of which you can see the rest of the work before you, the rest of the mountain range you've yet to traverse.