Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Tip # 13 The art of abandoning a script

By Itsuka Yamasaki (Producer/writer)

I have read somewhere that "you never complete a script - you abandon it." And it's so true. Even after completing the film you still feel like making changes. We were aware of weaknesses in the script and that there were things to change. We worked hard on it and until the point we finally "abandoned" the script, it went through several stages of script editing:

1. Production team script editing
Dan and I came up with a version of the script we were happy with, then along with producer Sinéad Ferguson, we laid 50+ index cards each containing scenes/sequences (something very simple like "Paul Fraser visits the bar") down on the floor, roughly dividing them into three acts (pictured to the left above). Then we discussed each scene, if it is really working in the script. We moved some scenes from the first act to the second, got rid of some completely, added some... I would've never imagined that these index cards could come in so handy.

2. It's not only what you know, it's who you know.
Sometimes they say you should only write what you know. However, you can cheat by getting advisors on board. Two key elements we were not familiar with involved the restaurant kitchen environment and the 90's drug culture in London. Neither Dan nor I have worked as a chef and we have never smoked. So we first got a friend of ours, Ben Rohde, involved, who is a writer and was familiar with that culture from his past. He re-wrote the scenes brilliantly, adding very witty Cockney dialogue. Then we had a chef read the script, who gave us some advice regarding the gas stove in the kitchen as mentioned in the script.

Script advisor/writer
Ben Rohde


3. Cut, cut, cut...
The last script editing session was with Tomislav Stefanac , who has worked as a script editor for TV episodes in Croatia. So one evening, Tomislav, Sinéad, Dan and I got together, we read the script aloud, and discussed everything, especially on a mission of cutting it down.

Script supervisor
Tomislav Stefanac


The session was intended to be only for a couple of hours but I remember it went to like a eight hour session. We cut down and improved quite a lot of dialogue.

And so we completed – or abandoned the script.

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