As with the writing of the previous year, the scenes I wrote during the school year of 2006-2007 were inspired by the film texts I had read and the movies I had seen since filming. After two years of filming, why would I still be writing scenes? I thought I was doing what was necessary to fill in gaps in the story. If I had been more knowledgeable of the screenwriting process, I would have eliminated superfluous scenes and not wasted the time filming them in the first place.
About half of what I wrote during this school year were scenes that fit between ones that had already been filmed and the other half continued the film from the end of what had been filmed.
Just like David Lean and James Bond had inspired my writing one year earlier, to this inspiration I had discovered the filmmaking of Blake Edwards and the film music of Henry Mancini. Both working together, and separately they had a profound impact on me.
The reader might be asking at this point, why did I continue to add scenes and not just call it good at this point? That is an excellent question and one that I may never be able to answer.
When I say that this film developed with me, I mean it literally. What the film was at the beginning of writing was not what it was by the end of filming. But I guess this is a cliche.
Two things happened my Sophomore year of high school that influenced Slim. One, I discovered James Bond reruns. I appreciated how many locations each Bond movie used. I wanted Slim to travel the world like James Bond--an out of shape, awkward James Bond.
The second influence on me was seeing epic roadshow films. Unfortunately, we don't use the word roadshow much anymore. It basically describes how a film was presented. Instead of cramming in as many showings in a day as possible, a theater would show a film maybe three times a day. The format of the film itself would almost always include an overture, intermission, entr' acte, and exit music. Check out The American Widescreen Museum for great information about roadshow presentations.
For me, I was introduced to the roadshow format through a school paper I wrote on the historical accuracy of film. The research introduced me to two of the greatest films of all time, Gone With The Wind (1939) and Doctor Zhivago (1965). They were such a great influence on me that I decided Slim would be a sprawling epic with an overture, intermission, entr'acte, exit music, and a 3+ hour runtime (yikes)! The film in my head became like David Lean meets Blake Edwards--what a combination!
The entire script I had written in 2005 really became just Part I of the overall script by the summer of 2006. After the intermission, Slim ends up across the world and on further adventures. This change in direction led me to film more in the second summer of production than I had in the first summer. Did I mention how important it is to have a complete script before production starts?
If I were able to travel back in time to early 2005, this is what I would have told my younger self. It is now what I would tell every beginning filmmaker that would listen. I was about 15 writing this Raiders of the Lost Ark parody and I had read a lot about filmmaking technique and watched tutorials, etc. However, it was years later that I really learned about crafting the screen story. I was confident with formatting the document. But the actual formatting does you no good if the story doesn't work in your head.
All dialogue was at least 16 point font. Anyone with any screenplay experience would ask "what is this guy thinking??" Because with the font so large, I could place the script at the amateur actor or actress' feet and he or she could glance down and read the lines when lost! I'm not kidding!
Around March of 2005, I remember saying to my script editor (aka Mom), that the story "just doesn't have IT". The problem was, I couldn't describe what "IT" was. But I had a production deadline--as a high school student I knew that all the filming had to be done during summer vacation.
Did I manage to complete the filming needed in just one summer? Of course not, because I didn't have a full script! I had about 25 scenes written, which is what I did film that summer. I will be sharing about that first summer of production in later posts. The years following were episodes of realizing that the story didn't make sense with what I had, so I would write more scenes and film some more, over and over.
If the reader takes any lesson away from this blog, it should be Don't Start Filming Before The Script Is Finished. I would have saved so much time and aggravation had I followed this rule.
To Be Continued...
Today's post is not about my attempt to get into real estate. Instead, it describes the first reason why a parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark would be impossible for me to film. I had a basic outline of the plot, simplified to just the bare bones. I was probably a couple months into figuring out plot ideas before it hit me--how was I going to recreate Egypt in Maine?
My first thought was to use a nice, sandy beach. Who would know the difference? In one background you would have the ocean and in other shots a parking lot! Needless to say, I quickly learned that would not work. It was then I discovered an attraction. The Desert of Maine! It is real--check it out! Apparently, decades of not rotating crops left the area with a true desert and it is now a tourist attraction. As fabulous as it is, it was still surrounded by classic Maine pine trees.
At this juncture, I knew the location would have to change. Around this time my cousin had done a crazy bike trek of South America. Ah! South America! Rainforests (trees), plains (grass), and mountains! Maine has all of these! So, I decided Indiana Slim would travel to South America.
With that in mind, I continued working on the story.
To Be Continued...
I began figuring out the characters for a Raiders of the Lost Ark parody. The main character was rather easy. Instead of an agile, handsome character, a parody would include a clumsy, overweight protagonist. The next character to come to life would be Indiana Slim's love interest. Instead of a name like Marion, this character's name had to be unattractive. This is where the name Snarion comes from. It almost causes you to cringe when you pronounce the name.
I am an extrovert and conversation with others helps to stimulate creative ideas. So when I was out of ideas, I turned to my trusty friends to help me with more details. I knew Indiana Slim had to have a companion--a straightman to play off the comic hero. That is when a friend suggested that he have a name completely opposite of Slim, "How about Tubba Lardo?" he proclaimed. I thought it was brilliant. Similar to Tubba's name, I knew that Slim's boss needed a name that was opposite to his frame. That is when I decided on the name Dr. Colossal.
The next group of characters needed to be the villains. Nazis are not funny. How was I to find a group familiar enough to audiences? That is when a friend suggested that Indiana Slim battle a group of strict schoolteaching nuns! I loved it! Of course, German sounding names still went with mysterious, wicked villains. Hans Wilhelm was the most German-sounding name I could think up. Oliver Sudden was a simple play on words. I found the name Varvara in a site of popular baby names, although the original would be pronounced VAR-var-a like Barbara. Another friend made up her ridiculously long last name.
With the characters in place, I thought the next step would be a simple cut and paste job. I would take the plot of Raiders of the Lost Ark and insert gags here and there. If only I had known how wrong I would become...
To Be Continued...
In July of 2004, I had finally completed STAR WRECK. I premiered it in August 2004. It was at this moment that I decided I wanted to continue with filmmaking. I had another showing of STAR WRECK in December 2004 and at this showing, I must have had about a dozen possible synopses I was considering. So I polled the viewers and they voted on the one I should pursue. Give the viewers what they want!
What the audience had selected was a direct parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I had called it Indiana Slim. It would follow the plot and characters of Raiders except Indiana Jones would be overweight. It was at the very end of 2004 that I began to draft characters and plot points for what would become SLIM.