After spending the weekend churning through a few dead end ideas for a new script – keeping in mind everything I’d been reading about creating a successful script – I finally decided to come back to the punishment cabinet, even though it doesn’t exactly follow a lot of the rules for a “successful” script.
Let me backtrack a bit. Friday afternoon, after sending the script for Detox off to the Wildsound Screenplay Feedback Festival, I got sucked into a great site for screenwriters, Wordplay. I read the first 20 columns and realized how much work needed to be done with the script I had just sent out!
So, needless to say all those rules and guidelines and checklist were very much weighing me down and nothing I could come up with seemed strong enough to stand up to all that. Thing like “Does the film have roles that stars will want to play?” or “Who is the target audience? Would your parents go see it?” (which would always be a “no” since my parents still haven’t seen “The Bet.”) And it wasn’t that the answer to the questions was “no,” it was that there were so many of them, so many considerations, I felt like I was writing for a sequel to The Godfather and not a quirky independent film.
Now, you also have to take into account I was also trying to come up with something that could be filmed for pretty much no cash, which more than not meant a limited number of locations, few cast… Well, I pretty much had laid on so many restrictions that I couldn’t do anything.
So, I went back to the punishment cabinet. It’s fairly contained, fairly few characters and actually does address a number of the items in that checklist (yes, stars would like the roles; no, my parents definitely will not see it). What’s interesting is that I had thought about changing the main part of the script into something marketable yet entirely at odds with what the script is supposed to be about… and decided to go back, hoping that something unformulaic and unique will be a bigger attractor than rehashing and retooling and renaming a relatively tired idea. How unHollywood!
But that’s the point. I’m not writing a blockbuster. Not to say this is on par with the following films, but I’d rather write one of these than a remake of a horror film: Run Lola Run, Evil Dead, The Descent, Funny Games, Kontroll, Open Water… well, you get the idea. I’m not saying the punishment cabinet is (or will be) a landmark in cinema, I’m just saying that it breaks a few rules or bends a few guidelines or plays around with convention. And that’s the way I like it.