Diary Of Making A Movie #10 – Done With The First Draft


Whew. Okay. Milestone reached. The first draft┬áis basically DONE. A bit under 80 pages, messy, lacking key transitions—but it’s basically a screenplay.

Now it’s time to go back to the bones of the story and seeing if it all makes sense. That’s the crazy thing about longer projects. If you’re writing a short story, it’s pretty easy to make sure that it’s cohesive.

But when you’re working on something for weeks or months, you might get to a point where you go “Wait a minute, what the hell is this?”

What’s The Story About?

This is also time to start asking the annoying but necessary question “What is the story about?” Obviously, in this case, it’s about a con-man life coach. But that’s just a character description.

What’s the life coach’s journey? What’s his client’s journey?

Essentially, the life coach is ruining this guy’s life. So how does that play out?

Start With The Forest

I heard a great metaphor about business, from an interview with a guy named Jermaine Griggs. He said you should tackle your tasks in the right order—“Forest, trees, branches, leaves.”

Now, he was talking about what aspects to focus on with a business. The “forest” is your big-picture idea, your main offer. Make sure that’s good before you move on to the more detailed stuff.

In the case of a screenplay, the same thing applies. I’m not worried about dialogue or scene length or anything like that right now. I’m focused on the Forest level of the screenplay—the story and characters. Because if those things are bad, everything else will have problems.

Rethinking The Shoot Date

If this movie was going to have 2 actors, shoot in one room, and cost three grand, then July would be fine for a shoot date. But as it is, it doesn’t seem feasible at all. Right now, I’ve got maybe 30% of the budget put away. Plus, a couple of the actors I want are booked on other projects this summer.

Not to mention the logistical marathon of paperwork, insurance, dealing with SAG-AFTRA, casting, and actually getting the script through the next few drafts.

Once we shoot the short film, we’ll revisit the budget and production schedule.