Out in the Wilderness: Writing a Pakistani TV Movie Part 1

A new project: A TV film for Pakistan.

From time to time, I get an opportunity to work on a project that helps pay the rent. And this particular one is a TV movie for Pakistan. It’ll be shot here in New York. Probably in September. That is if I get the script done (I will.)

When I’m writing something I always seem to change how I write. I don’t always reinvent the wheel, but I certainly change up my habits. However, there are two general ways of going about beginning: to outline or not to outline.

Outlining can be extremely helpful…it gives one a road map, a general shape, and it’s great to have in case you get stuck on a scene…you always know where you are headed.

Not Outlining can be great too. You can grab onto the sense of mystery…as you write you discover what the story and characters want and do. There’s a surprise to the writing that doesn’t always come from outlining.

Now, of course, with outlining you can feel trapped.

And with not outlining you can get stuck, lost.

Goods and bads.

Now with a movie…it’s sorta best to outline. Well. That’s not true. For ME it’s best to outline. Personally, I think movies are a little more structured than plays…or conversely, plays have a lot more flexibility than movies.. (At least linear films and plays…I don’t want to open a can of worms and he said, she said…this ain’t science.)

So, I outline. And with this new movie…I wished I had done more.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a shape for the film. A general shape. However, in this case, I think it maybe a little TOO general.

See. I’m in a bit of a time crunch. It’s mid-August. The director wants to shoot maybe mid-September. There’s a little but of pressure.

This is where a good outline comes in handy. As I’ve been writing pages, I’ve just been writing pages, people are talking, doin’ stuff…but it’s not particularly dramatic, nor germane to the story. (Did I use germane correctly? Maybe.) The characters are just sort of…being. Drama is about compression. Of time. Of dialogue. Of events.

This is where an outline comes in handy. When I start wandering, I can turn to it and sharpen the scenes, heighten the drama.

Though, I suppose, I could also just meander and then do it all in the rewrite…

Though, though, due to time, I need to have great pages faster…the director wants to see some work…and film is a director’s medium. Because it’s a visual medium.

Which frankly is another reason to cut out dialogue. And make scenes shorter. And it’s also the biggest difference between stage and screen: who wants to watch someone yammer on and on on TV? I know I don’t.

Enough rambling…I should’ve made an outline for this blog.

Next blog: Seriously, what am I writing?

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