New Chapters, our first short film, has entered production, but the writing aspect is far from over. Coming up with your story and its characters is always much harder than bringing them to life. You have to make your story compelling while still being entertaining, and you’re never quite sure if your story has ended.
While writing this short film, Katie and I have changed our idea over and over and over again. It’s hard for me to pick out exactly what it was when we started. All I can say is that it was nowhere near the idea that we have ended with.
Writing is a process. You go from your idea to a script but as you write that script, you begin to realize that some things just don’t seem to work! And when you change one thing, there’s a cascade of changes throughout the rest of your screenplay that you must also fix. Even once any screenplay is so-called “finalized” I personally tend to change things while shooting the scene. However minor they may be.
This is what I love about film. It’s constantly evolving and changing. No story is rigid from the beginning. You’re not just telling your audience what’s happening, you’re showing them. This is even more evident in our first shoot. We got on location, discussed our separate visions and then proceeded to throw our shot list away. Instead of filming at a previously planned location, we found a better one and decided we would just shoot the film there. We all knew that in doing this we were risking a reshoot, and that many things could go wrong that we wouldn’t realize until later, but it’s this sort of improvisation that makes a film all the more real. Planning things down to the second tends to make them all too perfect, and I firmly believe that as a filmmaker you must always be open to new ideas. The more you improvise, the more real your film will feel. That’s why it’s always a good idea to go “Off The Script.”