As the deadline for our FMP draws nearer (less than 24 hours!!!) I have been reflecting on the journey that my screenplay has taken.
I’ve had multiple episodes over the past month with stress and anxiety because I wasn’t even sure if what I was writing was worthy of a pass.
But I look at what I was writing at the start of the year, and I compare it to what I have now, and I couldn’t be happier.
For the first three months of the course I worked on an idea that I had been planning months in advance of starting the course. I wrote the treatment for the idea for our Major Project Treatment, with the module leader telling me that he was very fond of what I was working on.
And then I received my mark. It was dreadful. It was slammed for being far too unoriginal and under developed. So, naturally, I did the most logical thing that would cause me the least stress possible. I binned it!
Where my classmates were now working on the first draft of their scripts for an idea they had been working on for months and maybe even a year, I was starting from scratch.
I knew what type of story that I wanted to tell. I just didn’t know how to find it. So I did what all the great writers do. I drew from my past. And thus FAMALAM was born.
The initial draft followed a group of twelve year old boys attending an all boys school who were sexually maturing and chasing girls. The script was rude, crude and very over the top. This was much like my childhood, and I was drawing on characters and events from my past to write the script.
The main thing that came back to me from my first draft was that my stories focus was too unclear. A group of boys chasing girls just wasn’t enough. But then my tutor pointed out that this seemed to be more a story about friendship, and this is when he helped me find the title for the film. FAMALAM.
This one word helped me re-focus the entire story onto one single thing. Friendship. Friendship that is as strong, if not stronger, than family. And so with this in mind, I smashed out the second draft.
The original draft followed a group of ten boys, because I wanted to include all of the characters from my real life friendship group. But I realized that ten was just too many, so I had to cut the main group down to just five.
Fortunately I was able to keep hold of three of the other characters, and I had great fun in turning them into the antagonists against the protagonist group.
Once my second draft was complete I took a step back to examine it. The core story was there, following a group of boys and watching their strong bond. But I had focused far too much on the unique interaction between the five characters in the group. Each scene was drawn out far too long because I wanted to show exactly how unique this friendship group was (the way they interacted, acted etc.)
In focusing on this too much, I completely neglected the structure of the story too. This is when I researched various structures to try and find one that I felt would fit the idea perfectly. In my previous post I discussed finding that very structure.
And so, with a structure in place and a clear goal to concise every little detail of the story down, I began the next draft.
That next draft is what I am staring at now. Sort of. It’s been the slowest, most agonizing and painful creative process I have ever gone through. Each day I would only be able to work through five pages before my brain stopped. Then every time I started the next five pages, I went back to the previous five to make little changes here and there. I was cutting down ten page scenes into one. Showing a characters personality in one line instead of fifty. Moving scenes to fit into the new structure that I was following. Trying to make up new scenes whilst keeping my ABC story in mind. Tweaking characters habits and dialogue to make them more unique from one another. And all the while trying to include elements of the premise throughout the script. Elements that you see in friendship, like always sticking together, standing up for one another, going on adventures together etc.
But s**t, I’m right at the finish line now! And I’m looking at this script thinking “I’ve turned a COMPLETE mess of an idea into a solid, simplistic, original screenplay” in the space of about four months. My tutor was worried that I would not meet the potential that this idea had, and maybe he will be right. It’s for whoever marks it to decide that. But looking at the journey that this idea has gone through makes me more satisfied than any grade I end up receiving will.