THE BENEFITS OF LAZY REVISIONS, or, SERENDIPITY - Complications Ensue
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Thursday, March 23, 2006

I spent the past two days re-revising the Exposure pilot. We'd originally knocked off the central character, but now that everyone's killing off core cast in the pilot it doesn't seem so shocking, and we came up with an interesting story for later for when the girl comes back. So she lives.

It's interesting to me how often you can change early scenes sharply, and the later scenes still play, with a few minor tweaks. It may feel like lazy revising, but sometimes when you don't rewrite the later scenes more than you absolutely have to, you wind up with something stronger than if you rethink and rewrite everything.

For example, I left the scenes where the characters react to the girl's death mostly intact, but now they're reacting to her heart attack. My first instinct was to cut the reactions (we had a minute of nothing but reactions). But now that they're reacting to a mild heart attack as seriously as anyone would react to a death, it tells us more about them. We like them more, I think. And the callous reaction of another character oddly seems more callous when it's to a heart attack than to a death. After all, a death is so scary you practically expect a callous reaction from someone.

This is one of the joys of the performing arts. You change an early scene, and the other scenes will play differently even if their dialog is exactly the same -- because the reader has the early scene in mind, and later, because the actor has the early scene in mind. If you were doing it all yourself, you couldn't just leave the scene alone and enjoy the new way it plays. Sort of like discovering that your lousy K-10 isn't so lousy when the flop comes Q-J-9...

1 Comments:

Hey Alex,

Hope all is well. I know this isn't germane to this particular post, but I took a look at your FAQ about the cost of UCLA film school, and you note that it costs around $3000. That's probably when the first Bush was in the White House. It's up to over $12K for instate, and I can't imagine for out of state. Just thought I'd send a note.

Question: In a showrunning course, we've had quite a few Canadian producers talk about the advantages of filming in Canada because of the province and federal credits. Has this system helped you get your projects done faster than if you were concentrating in the States? One producer said that Canadian writers were particularly valuable.

By Blogger Lawrence, at 7:38 PM  

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