Tuesday, April 30, 2013



In the Land of Blood and Honey Poster.jpgFor some little time now, I have been engaged in re-writing a screenplay—not the movie in the poster--and the task has taken all my energy (and my blood into the bargain). In short, it was exhausting, but also absolutely exhilarating. As far as I am concerned, there are few things more mentally stimulating than a creative writing challenge.

Book authors normally don’t write screenplays—though there are exceptions. The reasons for this are that although both require a creative mind, the writing disciplines are significantly different.

Where a book is concerned, a writer is much less constrained. Length is much less of an issue, technical constraints are minimal, and—above all—you can get inside your character’s minds and allow access to their thought processes so you have vastly more freedom.

Screenwriting requires another approach entirely. On the one hand, you have the great advantage that the various media are visual, but you are limited in length to roughly a page a screen minute, production and cost constraints have to be factored in, and, overall, you have remarkably little time in which to develop your characters and tell your story. Screenwriting is the Twitter of the creative writing business.

Movies are much more of an illusion than we generally realize. Much less happens, even in a complex movie, than one thinks.

Is my work on the screenplay finished? Not a bit of it. True, I have now got a very acceptable draft, but there are still some issues that have to be resolved—and I know I can make it better.

That said, I’ll do a better job if I step away from it for a week or so, and then approach it with fresh eyes. Perspective is a wonderful thing, and time brings perspective.

Book-writing or screenwriting? Which do I prefer?

I think I’ll keep that a secret for the time being.

P.S. By the way, I recommend IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY—if you have a strong stomach. It’s really quite an achievement by Angelina Jolie who not only wrote it, but produced and directed it as well. It brings home the horrors of what happened in Bosnia like nothing else I have ever scene. It’s an intelligent, thoughtful, deeply upsetting movie which deserved to do much better than it did. And it is about as different from a classic Hollywood movie as can be imagined.

Personally, my tastes are pretty catholic—I love virtually any good movie—but I wish more serious, issue-based, thought-provoking movies were made.



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