I’ve just printed off the fourth draft of my war opus, “A Place Like Home”. And I was about to shoot off a email to one of my (sometimes) screenwriting mentors, Sheriden Jobbins, when I thought my rambling thoughts were much better suited to a blog that virtually no-one reads (if you are reading this – thank you xx).
Drafts are like farts, if you push them, they can quickly turn to shit. – Sheriden Jobbins
Ms. Jobbins wrote on one of her blogs about the desire to not sell a script, which as a little nobody trying to break into the industry, I couldn’t understand. However, having now written the fourth draft of APLH, I completely understand the sentiment. What she was talking about, was the fact that when you sell a script, it’s no longer yours, it’s somebody else’s. They’re going to re-write it, and change it to the point that it’s no longer your baby. And that’s the point I’m at now. With this new draft, I am really beginning to see what the movie is going to look like, and it’s a very raw, ugly, bloody and violent little baby indeed. Something only a mother could love, perhaps. But, hey, it is a war film after all!
Sometimes judging my own work is difficult. I often find that I have a scene that I really love, and think, “OMG, I’m a genius!” But then when others read it, it’s the first thing they want to cut from the script. I’m wondering, is the fact that I don’t want to show anyone this draft, actually an indication that it’s good? Or is it that I’ve actually developed a sense of it’s unreadiness? When I wrote the first draft, it was such a difficult intense process (I wrote all 123 pages in one week, after 6 months of development), that I wanted everyone to see it, “Look at me!” I said. Aren’t I fabulous? I literally strutted about with it like a peacock.
Whereas this draft, I’m holding onto, like a precious little thing, not ready for the big bad world, like a baby born without any skin. Which is how I see the script, I don’t feel it’s tough enough for the world yet (or maybe that’s me). I’ve put so much of my soul into this script, I feel like I can see the blood dripping from the clean white pages.
Out damned spot!
I’ve even found myself listening to old soul music, to replenish all that soul I’ve poured into the script. I’ve put so much of my life into the script, that I feel that if anyone criticises it, they will be criticising me. Not a good spot to be in.
This draft really began to take shape, when I was doing some extra research into POW camps. I felt going into this script, that everything that needs to be said about the camps, had already been said. Literally, hundreds of movies have been made about WW2, gosh, movies have got to the point now where they are even making up stories (Inglorious Bastards) to come up with something new to say about WW2. But, there is a reason why we keep making films about that war. THERE IS MORE TO TELL.
I started feeling around the second draft that I had whitewashed the POW Camps. It was this, plus a desire to tell a story that no-one has heard before (where both sides are humanised), that kept me looking for something different.
And, boy, did I find it. I am still in shock at what I found out. Believe me, there is more to tell about the war. Things that both sides have conveniently white-washed and forgotten, despite the fact that if anyone is prepared to do a little digging could find. Once I found this new information, I knew two things. Firstly, I would need to be prepared for the critics. I would have to be able to back this with evidence. Because no-one is going to thank me for digging up this horrid thing that history has conveniently forgotten on the way to canonising the war, and romanticising the 1950s. But, secondly, and more importantly, I knew it had to go into the script. I knew that this was the story, the movie I wanted to make and tell.
I don’t know if this makes my script unsellable. This script has from the very beginning, been something that I don’t think would be sellable. It started out as an idea for a music video for crying out loud! But, from every step of the way, it is the script, more so then anything else I’ve done, that people have been coming out of the woodwork to say, “you have to write this script”.
So, I’ve written the script. Hopefully, someday, I’ll let someone read it.