Back to the screenplay

For the longest time, I ditched my unfinished screenplay in an attempt to write a novel instead. There were 88 pages. Two days ago, I decided I would pick it up again. To be honest, it was a screenplaycontest that really kicked me out of stasis and back into motion. The chance to have actually Hollywood hotshots take a look at my screenplay was too good to pass up.

The thing is, I started a new screenplay. It was sort of a lighter spin-off of the original screenplay I had written. In a day, I wrote 33 pages. But then I started wondering whether or not I should simply finish my old screenplay. Right now, I’m still not sure.

The first one is about a security officer. It, like most of my creative works, is an examination of the human condition of loneliness. It had a dark tone and a pessimistic view of people. I was very careful to avoid writing a Taxi Driver ripoff, though the similarities are inherently there. It was the ending that I was most afraid of being turned into just another blatant and poorly executed “homage” to Travis Bickle’s murderous rampage. It was that fear that ultimately stopped me from writing the ending of that screenplay. It hit 88 pages, which I thought was already a little too lengthy. That’s why I started up this new screenplay.This new one is of course another “portrait of loneliness”, though presented in a much lighter tone. I felt that loneliness could be more powerful if the protagonist was more hopeful and likable. It is the story of one summer in a salesman’s life.My fear here is whether or not it is commercially viable. The film doesn’t have any violence, it doesn’t have any intense romance. The story in itself, when broken down purely into actions, is not very exciting. It is not particularly action oriented. Film as a medium is best at imparting an emotional experience in real-time through the use of moving images and dialogue. But as far as I can tell, my screenplay is far too subtle to be a commercial success. It would be billed as a drama, but there is no overt display of emotion. There are no scenes of flippant anger or intense sadness. It would be a rather difficult film to execute, and to be honest, in today’s culture of immediate gratification and easy entertainment, my screenplay wouldn’t show much promise.

However, as a piece of artwork, it would succeed fantastically. The film’s central premise is all about the way the protagonist relates tothepeople around him. In order to get anything out of the film, one must constantly think of how he interacts with everyone. The nuances in a simple scene where he successfully makes a sale are subtle. I am afraid that people are not smart enough to pick up on the purpose of such seemingly actionless scenes. Perhaps it isn’t a question of whether or not they are smart enough, but whether or not they are willing to dissect this character.

I had created a short film entitled The Hobbyist using the GTA IV PC Video Editor. If you break it down into actions, this is what you get out of the film:

Niko stands out in the street under a streetlamp. We cut to him exiting his apartment at night. He gets into his car and drives away to look for prostitutes working the streets. The first prostitute he takes into his car gives him a handjob in a dirty alley filled with garbage. He finishes and goes to find yet another prostitute. He takes her to the same place and this time receives oral sex. Niko finds a third and final prostitute, bringing her yet again to the same spot. He has sex this time. When he finishes, he sits in his car, thinking. He then climbs a ladder in that alley and goes up to the roof. On the edge of the roof, he waits for a bit, thinking. He then jumps off, plummeting to his death.

On a very basic level, this is just a short film about some guy who’s horny and gets his rocks off three times, and then kills himself. Doesn’t seem very interesting. But there are subtle nuances in that film. There is a reason for all of the shots there. Admittedly, I don’t know much about editing (ways you cut from shot to shot) as a form of mise en scene, but aside from that everything you see is there for a reason.

I’m just not sure whether or not big Hollywood companies would be interested in making a more artistically or intellectually inclined film. I am not sure whether or not I should “commercialize” my screenplay for this contest. But in the interest of artistic integrity, I suppose I will not.

Even so, it’s a difficult thing to work out these two screenplays. They share the same central themes and have a very similar structure. They even have some very similar visual representations (at least in my own mind). If I use ideas in one screenplay, it’s not in my best interest to use them again in a different one. This is the difficulty I’m dealing with, and I suppose I’ll just have to figure it out.