At first, I thought writing was easy. Boy was I wrong! Well, I should know considering how long it took me to write a short about two years ago and how long I've been avoiding the rewriting stage (it's been half a year since I've gotten feedback). Speaking of which, I'll do so after this secret project is done--more on that in another post. Not to reveal anything about the secret project.. that is somewhat like a solo show but in film form, but I really wanted to take some time to reflect on the writing process. Like I mentioned before, writing is tough. I have done playwriting before, but never have I written for film. I believe the spirit is the same.. just the form: stories written within words vs. visual storytelling, is different. It took me some time to grasp this concept, and although I'm close to the end, I still need to work on writing for film, which is eventually what I want to do: writing and acting for film.
Back to this project: I spent a lot of time thinking about my character: what she wants, what's holding her back, and what more can she do. A lot of possibilities of conflict were thrown around, her character changed multiple times. I spent a lot of time walking around Chinatown, consuming caffeine at cafés, and observing the people who work in and around Chinatown to find inspiration for this character. At some point.. actually at multiple points, I felt stuck. What more can I do? What if this isn't what the character wants and I'm bullshitting all this just to finish this project?
Luckily, I'm working with an amazing director. He has a lot of patience and gave me time to think, and a lot of space to explore different possibilities for this character. Because I had a lot of autonomy, I went through multiple revisions. We had to make sure our visions line up before we start shooting. I think that really grounded me--like nothing will happen if I don't push harder.
We shot the first half of the film, and we stopped for a week. Mostly because we couldn't figure out the story, and nothing will resume if we have no story. So I walked around again.. read a novel written by an Asian American about Chinatown to regroup my thoughts. Doodled for hours on end on my comic scrapbook turned storyboard writing book to figure out the major plot points. In the end, I leaned back and thought about the character again.. her wants and needs, then picked up the pen and did a bunch of freewriting. About an hour in, I found it. Typed the synopsis on my phone and sent it to the director. It sounded good, but not great. Rewrote it again (mostly the ending), got the greenlight, and we moved on to dialogue.
That, believe it or not, was the fun part.. maybe because I was used to writing dialogue. We are still working on revising it, but I think we're almost there. He has to cut it, then we'll resume shooting and post-production sometime within the near future. And it'd be a wrap. It'd be a wrap.. soon! Not gonna rush it.. gotta have patience.
During the whole process, I learned a lot about myself as a writer. How I should spend time writing before I present solid ideas to collaborators. Or at least setup a schedule on when we'll regroup, and when I have to rewrite. I should never shoot shit and hope it sticks. That's confusing for all parties. I should take it slow, let it breathe, and trust that it will all come together just fine. That, alone, is something I should practice.
It's gonna be awesome. :-)