As I was leaving work last night, I discovered a message from my producer, who had just read my screenplay adaptation of two of my short stories.
Great work on the screenplay. I love it.
It had been a long, hot, humid, exhausting week with very little sleep and I was feeling overwhelmed and run down.
After reading that message, I was elated.
And all it took was eight simple words.
Of course, there was much more to our conversation than that, but I was overjoyed not only that he had liked the screenplay, but also that he had gotten back to me so quickly.
A screenwriter’s life is a lot of hurry up and wait.
I’d busted my butt to complete that first draft in one week, but I had prepared myself for a long wait before my producer would even have time to read it.
Alas, he surprised me with a message on Monday night, just a day after I’d told him the draft was done, asking to read it.
Then a day later, he sent me the eight magic words.
That kind of turnaround is nothing short of a Hollywood miracle.
There will definitely be some waiting now, but he did mention the plan was to start production in September. That’s only two months away!
Now that I know he likes the screenplay, I can tell you a little more about my process. As you know, I was adapting two of the short stories from this blog: The Blind Date and The Bookstore Attraction Conundrum.
The short stories were written three and a half years apart, and had nothing that linked them other than that they were both about first dates. They also totaled about nine pages, and my producer asked me to turn in a screenplay of at least thirty pages.
Adding The Bookstore tale to The Blind Date was my first idea to increase page length and add characters to the film. Once my producer signed off on that, I had to come up with a thread to turn two totally separate stories into one movie.
What I ended up doing was taking a character introduced on the very last page of The Bookstore Conundrum, and making her the co-protagonist in the screenplay. Then I concocted a creative way to bring her into the world of The Blind Date’s main character.
I also took a character who is only mentioned in conversation in The Blind Date, and made him an actual character in the screenplay.
As a result, the first scene of the screenplay focuses on the main character of The Blind Date and two characters who barely existed in the short stories.
I went on to add one more character because my new co-protagonist needed a sidekick. My producer had asked for more characters, and I had given him exactly that.
Since I knew we would be looking to keep the budget small, I made sure to minimize the locations. Aside from the bookstore and the restaurant bar, which are the settings for the original short stories, I only added a scene inside an apartment, and another on the street outside of that apartment.
Those are two locations very easy to find cheaply in Los Angeles. Pretty much everyone working on the movie will have an apartment that could be commandeered for the shoot, and there are empty streets everywhere in that town.
I also set the story over the course of just a couple of hours. That means no costume changes, and no real worries about continuity. It’s a romantic comedy, so it’s all about the characters and dialogue, which means no action scenes or special effects.
Once I figured out the hook to link the stories, it was a very easy screenplay to write. Almost everything I write is based on my personal experiences, and borrows from elements in my life. For this one, I thought it would be a nice touch to add some of my family background, namely losing both my parents at an early age.
It’s surprising how something so sad can add just the right amount of heart to a romantic comedy about the perils of a first date.
I wasn’t sure if I was just going to copy the short stories line for line into the screenplay, but I ended up bringing over almost every line of dialogue. I also added new dialogue, and used screen direction to breathe more life into the scenes.
The finished product is thirty-two pages, and while you can see both distinct short stories in the screenplay, it is a much larger and well-rounded story now.
Maybe when the short film is completed, we’ll have a viewing party for blog followers at The House on Hill. If you attend that gala, don’t forget to bring Snapple!