A few years ago I decided that I wanted to focus on writing and directing science fiction, fantasy and action. Before then I would write whatever story popped into my head. This was a hard decision to make because I had a backlog of scripts in my head that I had not written yet. But none of them fit my focus. If I didn’t crack down I would never get to do what it is I really want to do. For my first project I wrote an action short, a quick five minute story with no dialogue. I wanted to be able to tell a story using action only. It was to be the first short of its kind that I would direct, but instead it ended up being the last short I directed.
Next I wrote a short mystery/suspense about a lonely young woman and a vampire. When I originally thought of the idea, I thought I needed 40 minutes to tell the story. But right before I started writing, a short scriptwriting contest opened where 1st place would be produced and one of the criteria was that the short needed to be 20 pages at the most. It was a challenge, but in the end I believe the script was much better for the restrictions. The script won 3rd place in the contest, and I went on to produce the script myself.
Sometime before I produced my mystery/suspense short I started working on a fantasy feature script about fairies and unicorns. Once I developed the idea, I decided that it would be best for me to write it as a novel first since I would do the same amount of work building the world and setting the rules. Years later and the book is being edited and on the verge on release.
I decided to try my hand at science fiction. I developed an idea, came up with interesting characters and wrote an outline. Because I attended a screenwriting workshop while I was working on it, I even wrote the first five pages. Then I promptly laid it aside because it was so utterly boring. Not long after I went to the movies and saw Inception. Normally when I see a movie I love or even one I had high hopes for but hated, I always think ‘I wish I had wrote that’. But at the end of Inception, I could only think ‘I could have never thought of that’.
It was a thought that made me sad. I used to have the most colorful imagination. The stories I would tell, the games I would make up, I was a born storyteller. Somewhere along the way I got so bogged down in learning structure that I had lost my imagination. Instead of hanging up my towel I decided that I needed to go find it. The first thing I did was read a lot of science fiction. Novels, short stories I even listened to science fiction short stories on Librivox. After I read so much I stopped and took note of what I learned so far.
Even though the stories were based in science, there was always a very human element involved. In Call Me Joe, the science of the story was building a village on Jupiter through a blue alien avatar. The operator was a crippled human living on a space station working through his avatar on the ground. Eventually his consciousness left him and entered his avatar permanently. The human element was the human’s desire to walk again. Very simple, but it made a very compelling story. Even the stories where the protagonist was a robot, it was still a human story about oppression. Before I wrote another science fiction script, I needed to connect with the human element first.
I’ve spent many hours working on my writing and now it is time for me to put more hours into directing. I’ve done a few shorts, and I have another short film and web series lined up to work on. Just like I needed to re-evaluate my imaginative storytelling, now I need to take a closer look at my directing style. I’ve been reading books, listening to podcasts, watching movies and watching videos on directing on YouTube. It’s too early for evaluations, but this blog is here to track to my progress as I develop my art.