The last three days of this week at Film School we read our treatments aloud and got critique from head of the screenwriting education, Lars Detlefsen.
When we were up in that room before the summer, I felt like I took a beating. But today, a fellow student took a beating that reminded me of Bane kicking Batman’s butt in The Dark Knight Rises. It was brutal.
“You have no story. Nothing is happening. It’s just people walking around. There’s nothing at stake. You’re being too nice. You protect your characters because you love them. You let them escape the pain too easily. You should have them face the worst of their fears, let them suffer. Right now I’m more interested in the supporting cast”.
I know how much work must have gone into the 32 page treatment we just heard. It wasn’t that I disagreed with the critique neccesarily, it was just hard to sit by and watch while the poor guy was pounded into mincemeat.
Of course no one was really pounded on. I’m chasing a metaphor. It was all done with respect and love and we were talking about a story, not a person. Big difference. It can be really hard not to take it personal, when someone beats the living daylights out of your precious little story, picking it apart and putting their dirty fingers on all the sore spots. Especially when they are right.
“Most Danish movies are like short films that just go on and on. They set up the premise but it never goes beyond that, it never get’s really painful. About 25 movies a year get made. 3 of those get seen, the rest end up in the trash.”
I was glad that my reading was of actual pages from my first draft. It’s amazing how much more resilient you are towards critizism, knowing you have completed a first draft. 95 pages! Does wonders for your confidence. Of course it’s painful when someone starts unwinding the sweater you just knitted. Equally frustrating when they are right in . But I would much rather be discussing what is actually on the page, than take hits on behalf of half-baked ideas and things to be explained and/or explored down the line. No one can take away that first draft, it’s still there, no matter what they say.
I take comfort in the fact that I have several other people reading my script right now. And that I’m too busy the next month or so to work on it anyway. And I’ve already taken my beating this week. Tomorrow I get to watch while two more stories are used as punching bags. Watch – and learn.