As silly as it sounds, I did think my script was alright back when I wrote it a couple of months ago. I was feeling happy with myself, not even considering editing it. ‘I have a ready script, so when the time comes, I will just print it out and hand it in’, I was thinking. I had spent lots of time laying it out and writing it to the best of my abilities at the time. And it looked as if there was nothing else that could be changed. A simple but effective script. How wrong I was…
The work you just completed is never your best possible work.
First of all, I thought the script was two pages long. It turned out it was only one. For a three minute film that was supposed to be happening on three different days, it was a bit too little. What is more, after reading it last week, I realised it was not too clear what is happening, when it is happening, and what the scenes need to feel like.
Apart from that, I gained some scriptwriting insights from two films I really like: I was reading through the scripts of ‘Vicky, Christina, Barcelona‘ and ‘The King’s Speech‘ (scroll down or Find in Page in the links provided to download the PDFs). I also gained first hand experience of how short films are made during the pre-production, production and post-produciton stages of filming James Root’s script ‘No Tag-backs’. So when I read my old script, I found lots of problems that needed to be addressed.
The first thing I needed to work on was the length. I struggled with rewording the old script for a couple of hours, until I decided to just start anew. I did refer to the old version every now and then, but I pretty much rewrote it from scratch. That proved to be a good idea, and I think I gave it a bit more fresh and vivid feel. Since there is no dialogue in the script and no character interaction, the story has to be told visually and with the help of sound. So I included more scene descriptions and really focused on what is seen and heard in the film. I was trying to imagine what the set would look like, what could help establish the time and mood, what details are needed. I also added some more lively visual and soundscape ideas, in order to make the script more interesting, but also having a possible production process in mind.
At some point, I got very stuck. I realised I didn’t introduce clearly enough that the story develops on three consecutive days. I asked some people on the course for advice (Daniel Atkinson and Chris Hammond, of course), plus some friends from outside University. They gave me some fresh ideas, which even though didn’t quite match the story I wanted to tell, helped me open my mind and brainstorm some more ideas. I ended up changing the concept of three days – I decided it wasn’t that important for the story, and that it would also work with three time slots over two days. I decided the sound of a tower clock striking eight o’clock should be used to mark a change in time, as well as the change between evening and morning.
The last touch was the title. ‘At the door’ was too generic, so I needed to change it. Lots of keywords about streets, cities, suburbs and sales promotions were spamming my mind at the time, so I asked for help again. Again, the simple act of describing what I want and what I don’t want helped me clead my mind and an idea came that I think works.
Here is the finished script: Four bangs