Screenwriting: Taking Notes, Taking Meetings

Yesterday evening I got the notes back from Mr. Alvaro Rodriguez on my St. Peter in Chains script. They were most very positive, very encouraging. My characterization and dialogue are top notch, it seems. The one thing is how "black" the pages are. If you don't know screenwriting, "black" means there is a lot of narration/action/description on the page. A lot of prose compared to dialogue.

This makes sense, in a way, since I adapted St. Peter in Chains from my novella of the same name. But I totally see the issue/potential problem. If each page of a script is supposed to be roughly a minute of screen time, a prosy script won't hold true. Although Peter is 40 pages, it's probably really only 20–30 minutes of film. (In case you didn't know, it's a short.)

It wasn't always true that scripts were so lean as they are now. Back in the day, it was relatively common to see big blocks of description on the page. So I'll take this note as my script being "old school" or even "classic" in style. They don't make 'em like that any more, though, do they? So I should maybe keep that in mind when writing a screenplay.

And speaking of style, I have to say that I've heard from many producers who've read the Peter script that they do really, really like the style, tone, voice. Then the next words are almost always, "What else have you got?" So just a reminder to all you screenwriters: have more than one at the ready! I've just finished a feature-length (well, I'd say it would be 80–90 minutes filmed), and I'm pleased to say it is much leaner in style than Peter, probably because I adapted this one from one of my stage plays. So I'm starting to circulate that one, since Peter has opened the door for me, and I've actually come to the point where some producers want to meet me. And, like, actually talk and stuff. On the phone, over Skype, and yes . . . The Lunch.

I feel sort of like I've waded into a lake. I was thinking I'd get my toes wet and then, for whatever reason, just kept walking. It's a tad surreal, but I have always enjoyed a good swim. I'm taking it one lap at a time for now. After all, you gotta learn all the strokes before you get to join the team.

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