I’ve always been a bit intimidated by feature screenplays. They’re both far longer than most things I’ve written (90-110 pages, compared to 50-something for a dramatic pilot), and yet somehow, also unbearably short. After all, a great television show will run for five-plus years; a movie ends after a couple of hours. Even if you have a sequel, it’s just not quite the same story. It’s a new story in the same universe.
Anyhow. After spending six, almost seven years writing television and webseries scripts, I’ve started work on what I think will be my first completed screenplay.
It’s interesting, how the process is different between pilots and films. Before I’d read Xander Bennett‘s fantastic Screenwriting Tips, You Hack – which, in fact, inspired this journey in the first place! – terms like midpoint, dark point, and opening up were things I encountered in passing, not relevant to what I was doing. Now, building a story around these specific tentpoles, I’m having fun with the new format.
While other projects are stalled, I’m digging into the outline, and I’m excited to end the script. I’ve never gotten one of my own projects to a series finale, so ending a story definitively is also something exciting and new. I’m also enjoying the expedited character arc, forcing it to move forward over two hours instead of 88, like the last project I worked on. I bring a character from one headspace to another inside of one script, changing them forever. I really like that.
I’m still playing in the supernatural genre, which gives me plenty of opportunity for fun action writing and mythology. Also happy that I don’t have to string out reveals for a long time; they come about an hour and a half after introduced, if not sooner. My outline is rough; I’ve got the large strokes of everything mapped out, but I’ve yet to nail it down to a scene-by-scene outline, and the character arc is still a bit nebulous in places.
I’ve known I’d have to eventually write some screenplays, if only because they’re the only sample plenty of fellowships and contests look for. I’m glad it turned out to be so much fun. More as this story develops.