Resting My Legs, But Exercising My Brain

screenwriting, writing, humor,Modern PhilosopherI might have taken a few days off from running to rest my exhausted legs after winning my Wellness Competition, Modern Philosophers, but I’ve been working out my brain even harder than usual.

Since I’m 6’3″, there’s a great deal of distance between my legs and my brain, so the overexertion of my grey matter should not interrupt the well deserved vacation of the shapely twins that keep my body upright.

My mini vacation is the perfect time to tackle an important writing project.  As I’ve previously mentioned, there is a plan to turn one of my short stories, The Bind Date, into a short film.

When I first suggested this idea to my producer, I have to admit, I thought it would just mean turning that 1,500 word story into a screenplay.

However, he had different ideas.  His plan was to create a thirty minute short film, which we could then enter into festivals, while also using it as a calling card to interest investors in one of my feature length screenplays.

Since one screenplay page is the equivalent of one minute of screen time, that meant I needed thirty pages of script.  If you’ve read The Blind Date, you know there’s only about five minutes of action there.

Which meant it was time to put the brain to work, and figure out how to come up with the other twenty-five pages I’d need to make the short film a reality.

Have I ever mentioned that I love challenges?

screenwriting, Hollywood, movie, humor, Modern PhilosopherBeing a screenwriter is not easy.

Even though there is no movie without the screenplay, the writer is far down in the pecking order of a Hollywood production.

And that is no slap at my current producer, who is a great collaborator and values my input.  It’s simply a fact of life.

Usually, the screenwriter is left alone in a quiet corner until everyone decides to give him notes all at once.

A lot of screenwriting is sitting around and waiting.  You create this story that you think is absolutely awesome, but then you need someone with connections to agree to read it and get it into the right hands.

Even if you can get someone interested in your script, you need people with money to agree to pay for everything.  Movies are expensive endeavors.

In this case, I found myself waiting for my producer to get back to me on my idea of how to expand the script.  I proposed weaving another short story into the plot of The Blind Date, and sent him three stories to read.

Of course, I had my favorite, but I needed to be a good collaborator myself, and see which story he thought would work best.

I waited patiently for feedback, but he is a busy man and I didn’t hear anything.  My mini vacation arrived, and I wanted to work on the screenplay.  So I made an executive decision to add a second short story, and chose my favorite story of the three.

story story, blind date, relationships, humor, Modern Philosopher

I sent my producer an email telling him what I was doing, and didn’t wait for permission to get started.

That’s not exactly the typical thing for a screenwriter to do, but sometimes one needs to be bold if he wants to get things done.

I was pleased when he emailed back that he loved my ideas and the story that I chose.

That night, I cranked out another short story, which will eventually become the opening scenes of the screenplay.  I introduced a character from the second short story into the world of The Blind Date, and now I am confident that I will have enough material to fill thirty pages.

The new story flowed out of me so quickly that I didn’t even consider setting it up as a blog post.  The ideas had formed in my head all day, and I just wanted to get them down on paper as notes for the script.

Next thing I knew, my notes had been transformed into an 1,800 word story.  I write my short stories like a screenplay, in that there are many screen directions included.  Hopefully, when you read one, you can easily picture the action taking place in your mind because everything is described in such detail.

I did a quick edit of the short story, and then emailed it to my producer.

screenwriting, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherAlmost immediately, my brain went to work spitting out ideas for the next scene.   Plus, new ideas formed to expand the second short story.

My brain has been very active!

I haven’t written anything else because I’m pretty sure the next step is to start the screenplay.  But I also wanted to take some time to enjoy one of my favorite parts of the screenwriting process, which I like to call “percolating”.

During the percolating period, I allow the various story ideas to simmer in my brain.  As I run them over and over again through my cerebral filter, some ideas grow into something bigger and better, while others fade away.

Pretty soon, after just the right amount of percolating, the story is finally ready to be served.  That’s when I open up Final Draft on my laptop and begin the screenplay.

For those of you who are curious, this is the story I decided to add to create my screenplay.  Let me know if you think it pairs well with The Blind Date.

My legs have really enjoyed the last few days off, but my brain has been so active over that time that it doesn’t even seem like I’ve missed a beat.  This is the kind of activity that really improves my overall wellness.

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About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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6 Responses to Resting My Legs, But Exercising My Brain

  1. ‘Percolating’ is an extremely important part of the writing process. I do it too.

    • Austin says:

      I figured out how to restore your comment. Hurray!

      I think it’s really important to let ideas sit in your brain and simmer. I find that I get more out of them when I don’t rush it.

  2. Austin says:

    Matthew, I accidentally deleted your comment. Wanted to reply that I’m so glad to hear someone else enjoys the percolating process. 🙂

  3. markbialczak says:

    The bookstore short was a great choice as an add-in, Austin. I’m excited to see how you mix these characters together with your Blind Date folks. Fantastic!

    • Austin says:

      Thanks, Mark. That was my favorite short story before I wrote The Blind Date, so it was the one I wanted to make work…even if it took a little creativity on my part. 🙂

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