Saturday, 6 November 2010

Captain's Blog: Enigma Season Three Finale and Thoughts on Writing for Others

A fan of sci-fi?  Not seen Enigma previously?  Have you been living in a hole for the last 3 years?!? :)

The season finale of Enigma is now available for viewing on TMUnderground and Vimeo; I heartily suggest you go and watch it.

And ignore the fact that I may have had a finger or two in the writing of the script...

It seems soo long ago that Uber and I spoke about the script, bashing ideas about and firing drafts back and forth.

Writing for others is something that some scriptwriters (especially in the 3d animation field) are sometimes reticent about doing; very few seem to really do it.  Whether this is due to the fact that people aren't confident in their own writing abilities, are overly sensitive to suggestions and comments from others on their written work or just too parochial about their "babies", I don't know.

But I find it refreshing.


Because it forces you to work within a different set of constraints; it's not so easy to churn out a tale using characters or a universe that someone else has created and knows more about than you do.  It's not simple to get inside the heads of characters created (and having had life breathed into) by others, and cause them to issue dialogue that is different to the way you write.  And it's certainly strange to change how you construct or work on a script to fit a different set of criteria.

But it's highly enjoyable, challenging and ultimately a lot of fun to do so.

I've been lucky enough to work as a collaborator on several scripts, and to write a few now where the ultimate directorship of the finished movie lies in the hands of another.  I won't lie; it's not simple to begin with (Chris62 will tell you that in regard to our War of the Worlds project! :)), but it's an immensely useful learning experience to see how to change your approach to work in a different way.

And, the biggest learning experience of the whole thing?  Learning to let go and let the director do it ultimately how THEY are going to shoot it.  In the case of Enigma, Uber has been doing this for 3-4 years now, and knows how he's going to structure and shoot the scenes; I'm not going to be so stupid as to try and tell him how to shoot certain things he KNOWS how to do in the right way to make it "Enigma".  I might write a scene with some overall "snapshot" notes to show what I'm trying to achieve with the sequence, but once that script goes to the director, it's in his or her hands how they want to "get it done".

Equally, from Uber's perspective, he's written an Odyssey episode by referring closely to previously established characters and situations (and come up with a corking episode that I'm itching to get stuck into, incidentally, but that's another story!) but the actual structure of the script he's left to me to figure out as far as possible, allowing me to shoot it how I want without trying to bog me down in specifics.

In the case of The Nobbit (which I had a hand in along with Gabe and Biggstrek), I advised on lines here and there and some various bits and pieces but once again, it's Gabe's job as director to structure it how and where he's going to shoot it.  Trying to get all anal about the process is losing sight of what a collaboration is all about.

After the learning experience of WotW (where I freely admit I got very picky to begin with about how certain things were to be done, and Chris (bless his cottons) kindly slapped me into place and told me (in the best possible way) to get off his back and let him get on with it!), I learned the biggest thing about writing for others:-

You have to trust that the director you're writing for will do the best job they can to get the script shot.

It might not look exactly how you imagined it (but let's be honest, here; how often does that happen, even with your OWN scripts??), but they will do it justice (or, in a lot of cases, make it even better than you thought possible!)

My advice?  If you're going to work with someone as a scriptwriter, don't give your script to the first bod to turn up and ask for it; go with your gut, or work specifically with people you KNOW will do a good job of turning your "baby" into a visual feast.

To do it any other way is doing a MAJOR disservice to your creative abilities.


Anonymous said...

Uber "LIKES" this comment.

Undisclosed Studio said...

You are one of the most talented writers I know. I think whatever you lend your hand to becomes magic with that "Killian Touch" - and I'm not saying this to kiss-up. I really mean it.