Happy year of the dog, everyone! I’m writing this post from Shanghai, sitting around the family dining table.
First, an update on the screenplay itself. Here’s the initial treatment. I shared this treatment with ~15-20 friends and have been tweaking the story with their feedback. There were two big concerns: first, readers felt like Nick and Jean’s relationship was too unbalanced: Nick had too much power and Jean had none. Second, readers felt like the contrast between Nick and Allen was too simplistic: Nick seemed almost entirely a bad person, and Allen seemingly didn’t have flaws.
So I’ve been working to fix these things. My tendency in writing seems to be thus: I start stories in an innocent and straightforward manner, and with each edit and re-write, the story gets darker and more cynical and sometimes more violent slash masochistic. Layer by layer. Maybe that’s what I really want to write and I’m just getting more comfortable putting it out there? Let’s see where this screenplay’s rough draft winds up.
I’m reading books like Shot by Shot [Amazon] and The Filmmaker’s Handbook. Shot by Shot in particular is a good overview of the filmmaking process, very accessible and with lots of practical examples.
I’m watching movies that are comparable in tone and content to what I hope to achieve. Paying close attention to how they’re shot, the music, the dialogue, editing. Two influential works are Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) and Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. What qualities do I like about them? The emphasis on real life issues, the nuanced and extended dialogue, the simplicity in how they’re shot and scored.
Thanks for reading. The next update will come if / when there’s something concrete to share. Perhaps even an update on the music front. Until then, 新年快乐，万事如意，阖家欢乐，年年有余！