One afternoon, I decided to finally go through my notes. For lack of an efficient system (some people use journals), it was time for me to put some order into a motley collection of writings: screenplays pending revision, an experimental unfinished French mini-novel, short film scripts, scenes, taglines, loglines, pieces of dialogue, etc. I went through it all, and I was surprised by how much I could not remember. I found some of it so foreign despite the stylistic familiarity. A lot of what I write – especially the short form type – happens before going to bed and is usually scribbled on random unlined pages, pages that I sometimes don’t number. It’s a pain. I suspect that wanting to lose some of those pages and needing to start from scratch motivates my unconscious to some extent. It has happened and, even though it’s annoying and frustrating, it’s always an opportunity to get that one idea/story/dialogue clearer in my mind. Another possible pitfall is to forget that the story ever existed and start another version of it. That has happened several times, and it’s a good thing, too.
Some of these writings are unfinished but that’s never really bothered me much. They are all connected to a handful of central ideas, beliefs and questions that I have consciously and unconsciously been preoccupied with over the years. Track Record, a union short film that I am putting together on a shoe-string budget, is a fragment of a feature-length film I got stuck writing. Instead of stubbornly banging my head against the wall, I decided to get to the gist of it in about 10-12 minutes. Fairly simple in its execution and plot, this condensed version will help me move forward. It lacks a number of elements from its longer version including an opera house and an elusive skier fired by her manager. They’ll have to wait.
I like the immediacy of screenplays, how they conjure images and affect in few words, how visual they are. They have an edge over books in that they’re destined to have their plots enacted and recorded in the most random locations at the most random hours. Take after take, cast and crew will pour so much time and energy in order to render these brief sentences into tangible and believable circumstances. Given this, I don’t feel so bad reimagining the lost plots I wrote down on loose pages.
P.S. I’ve resumed writing the feature-length version of Track Record.