Last night (or more accurately, 7am this morning) I completed the first draft of my third feature script, More. Something I’ve learned that has been consistent with every one of those three scripts: an utter exhilaration upon completing that first draft. It’s like nothing else in the process, really; the outline always feels incomplete, and any draft after the first will never, ever feel final. I hear that even with shooting drafts, as films are revised and changed even in the editing room. What’s the saying – art is never finished, just taken out of our hands? So the first draft finish line, to me, is my favourite part of the whole process.
So far, each feature has been it’s own distinct process. After the Fight was driven forward by an external pressure, with no time to outline or even figure out what I wanted from the story until it was almost fully drafted. Many of the script’s best scenes didn’t appear until subsequent drafts, including the Dark Point that pulls the entire script together. Meanwhile, Kin was written pretty much entirely for someone else, though with characters I created and love. More, written for class under the supervision of a prof, is the first time I’ve written something pretty much entirely for me, really. It’s a really personal story, almost an alternate universe look at my life if things had gone in another direction. It grew out of a one-line description and become something entirely different, an exploration of trust and fear and control. And while I’m too close to it to see whether it’s good or bad right now, there are definitely scenes I’m really proud of in this draft.
It’s been a real experience. Partway through the script I realised I didn’t have a proper 3rd act, and even now it’s the weakest part of the script. I might work on it this weekend before handing it in to my prof, or I may wait and see what the notes say. Also, this was the first work where I integrated writing lyrics into the story, as my lead is a songwriter. With no musical or lyrical education, that was also a fascinating process that will get even better as I do research on songwriting to empower subsequent drafts. I’ve dabbled in lyrics here and there since highschool, but it’s only been since sometime last year that I’ve gotten serious about trying to develop it as a skill. And writing lyrics from a character’s point of view has been really fun.
I don’t really get a chance to decompress and celebrate – I’ve got revisions due on Kin ongoing and a pilot script due on the 15th, plus ongoing uni and freelancing commitments. But I’m taking tonight to get my words back and feel good about this milestone.
Next feature to hit the ‘end of first draft’ point? Depending on scheduling, I’ll either hit end of first draft on in-progress The Disappointments (which I’m 24 pages into, but needs some work done at the outline stage), or my thesis script The Waiting Room, depending on how that process goes. I’m definitely looking forward to it, though.