Sunday, 12 August 2007

Planetary Problems

I have a problem with my entry for Red Planet, which basically boils down to misalignment and lack of time (and too many gigs on the horizon – Battles at the Concorde 2 anyone?)

Everyone knows about Red Planet by now, so I won’t bore my only reader (Hey! How ya doin’?) by shilling out the lowdown. Suffice to say, I think I’m fucked. I don’t think that either of the scripts I have ready to go are suitable (I’m fairly certain the nice people at Red Planet will not want to see a broadly generic horror script or an JG Ballard inspired sci-fi drama).

However, I have a script that might fit the bill. Problem is, it’s a complete drunk - in order to get it up and walking about, I need to feed it black coffee and walk it round the block, never an easy undertaking at the best of times. This is what I mean by misalignment. With every opportunity that comes along, I’m not convinced that what I have up my sleeve is suitable, or even good enough. So I obsess about the next script – this script it’s where it’s at, I tell myself - this script is the one. Problem is, it’s always just around the corner, waiting to be written and/or re-written, an alternating to and fro of hard work and procrastination. By the time it’s finished (well, inasmuch as any script can be said to be truly finished), the opportunity I had in mind for it has moved on, freeing up time for me to obsess about the next script. It’s like that hoary old saying about waiting for a bus and three of them coming along at once – in my case, the buses come along on time and all in a nice orderly line, but my script is too drunk to get on them, let alone flag one of them down (yeah, OK, so my analogy sucks, but you get the idea).

That said, I think I the first ten pages or so are pretty serviceable – but after that point, it all goes a bit Pete Tong. At the moment, my script looks like the backstage area of a gameshow – the pastel coloured fa├žade of the first ten pages is all a big con – behind that sits a mess of cables, harassed production assistants and lots of gaffa tape (and to add insult to injury, someone’s drunk all the booze in the green room and eaten all the peanuts).

This is a script that’s been round the block several times now. A malicious script editor (stay tuned for more fun on that one) told me to write about what I knew, so I did – a script set in the buying department of a major UK airline. Problem was, 9/11 put paid to that. I had to wait three years before I could pick the script up again, dust it down and figure out what the hell I wanted to do with it. The solution? If I was going to rewrite it, I had to make 9/11 an integral element of the narrative – you could not have a script set in this industry and not mention it. In other words, a huge undertaking. Whether it works or not is something I’ll leave to the readers at Red Planet – that is, if I get the rewrite finished by October (assuming they even want to see it in the first place).

And that’s my second problem – time. A page one rewrite in two months? Hellfire. It takes me three hours to think about a half page conversation, let alone write it, so I need to generate some time from somewhere. And gigs of course - always gigs.

I ought to stop bitching and get on with it, right?


Oli said...

Look at it this way: it's free to enter, so whatever you have ready, you might as well enter something. Got to be worth a punt - and I wouldn't worry about sullying our reputation as spec monkeys - if they don't like our scripts, they're unlikely to remember our names, are they?

Chip Smith said...

Good point - I am suitably chastened! (goes off and hangs head in shame).

Rightly or wrongly, I have an idea of the sort of script they want to see, and I don't think I have it at the moment.

Ah well - as you quite rightly say, quit moaning and send it in!