Allied with my earlier post on not creating a world for your film, only enough of a world to be filmed (Duckmaking), producing the short film has also made me think about my scriptwriting, and careless writing. It is easy to forget that what you write into a script has the potential to become, and if you’re lucky will be, an instruction for people to realise that part of the world you’ve created on the page.
I had fun writing this laughably stupid piece of script which includes all kinds of superfluous, ridiculous and careless information. My favourite was ‘The army drives by’. A throwaway in a script, but think about how much that would take to film in terms of cost, planning and logistics. And that’s four words. Maybe I didn’t even want to have the army driving by in shot, maybe they were leftover words from another idea. In that case, and anyway, it is important to remember that the economy of screenwriting not have room for careless or superfluous information.
That is not to say that specificity is the byword, because while that is preferable to the vague, being particular can lead to challenges when the script enters production. Suppose I really did want an army in the film, would it be a deal breaker? If budget didn’t allow could it be just two soldiers and a jeep? Could it be the Belgian army instead? If it’s only needed in one shot is it needed at all?
It is cliché that the writer believes everything they’ve written is essential. But even if you’re prepared to accept that your script must bend to the realities of production, it is possible you are too close to the script to make the call on what is absolutely required and what could be up for negotiation?