Started drafting on our new slimmed-down, one-hour TV pilot for Scriptapalooza. My writing partner is doing the teaser and acts one and two, and I'm doing acts three and four. Beginning to draft, for me, is always the hardest part. Researching, writing the treatment, working out the structure, doing the beat outline, editing, revising, polishing - those are the writing parts I like. Drafting? HARD. (I'm sure this is no different for anyone else.) Like, what are my ins and outs for each scene? Do I have the right setting? Am I finding the most expedient way to move the plot forward, advance character, convey any necessary exposition without making it seem like exposition - all at the same time? Is my dialogue in character? How's the pacing? Are these scenes in the right order? Ugh. Sometimes I just feel like I have the movie/episode all up in my head already, and if I could just download it... Now, I know that the actual process of writing means I discover things that I never would have thought of otherwise, and once I get into it it feels great and I like it. Like, drafting after page ten usually goes well. But those first few days, those are the ones that are rough, that I tend to put off. Which is why it's great we have a deadline, because I can't procrastinate at all.
Still, this is one of the reasons why I draft longhand and leave my house to do so. No frakking around on the computer, no spider solitaire, no organizing my files. No "I'll just watch this episode of TV...as research
." Just get out of the house and write.
So, last night I'm at the library, and back at the A/V counter they have a trivia question up each day. If you know the answer, you get, like, a Starburst or something. It's fun. I was waiting in line, and while the employee was unlocking the DVD cases, the woman in front of me turned and asked if I knew the answer to the question - "Who founded the Sundance Film Festival in 1978?" I told her the answer - Robert Redford. She asked, "Why is Sundance important?" So I started to answer - "It was one of the first ways for independent filmmakers to have an opportunity to present their work and potentially find a larger audience--"
And then the A/V employee, a young man probably around my age, turned around and talked right over me. "Sundance was one of the first festivals that exhibited independent films. Studios could buy them and distribute them, and that wouldn't have been possible before." And the woman in front of me nodded, smiled at him, took her movies, and left.
I mutely gave the man my DVDs and card, waited for him to unlock them and check them out, and walked away. I didn't make any small talk like I usually do, and I certainly didn't answer the question. And as much as I would have liked to say something, I knew there was no point. Sure, you could probably say he didn't even realize he had done it, and that calling someone on that is the only way they'll learn, but I did not have the patience for it right then. But if I had decided to say something? Here's what I would have said:
"Buddy, I studied film at USC. My professors included Leonard Maltin, Tom Holman, Todd Boyd, and Drew Casper. I actually worked on a documentary short that played independent festivals. DO NOT MANSPLAIN SUNDANCE TO ME."
(Now, if you're saying to yourself, "Jeez, Shannon sounds a little full of herself there," don't. I'm working as a substitute teacher. I'm $45,000 in debt and had to move back in with my parents. I drive a 1994 Plymouth Voyager, for Christ's sake. But goddamnit, I know about movies.)
(I kind of feel like Sigourney Weaver in Galaxy Quest, when Tim Allen yells at her to stop repeating everything the computer says. "I have one job on this ship, and it's stupid, but I'm gonna do it!")