About Time

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It was a random choice. I didn’t even know that Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Nottinghill) wrote and directed this until the title credits in the end. I did not know that this was about time travel till 10 minutes into the movie (Not ‘I can go back and kill Hitler’ kind, but ‘I can go back to an earlier point in my own life’ kind). And I didn’t realise that a movie about time travel can turn into such a touching examination about our own obsession about ‘making the right decisions.’ That it can be a bittersweet chronicle of the irretrievability of our experiences and our moments with the loved ones. It reminded me that the most tragic part of our existence is not death but the irreversibility of something that happens in the past.

It is a warm movie that wore its heart on its sleeve. Probably that’s why critics didn’t love it much. 

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Prague

How much does Prague really matter to Prague? Would it have really affected the story if it had happened in some other city? Let me tell you this much. If one doesn’t read too much into the logline, the movie works better. Because it takes away the false expectations. Prague is a neatly executed thriller which does not in anyway give away that it is the debut feature of the director. More than a thriller, Prague works better as a touching love story. But has to say, the juxtaposition technique of the ‘good times’ and ‘bad times’ in the love story appeared a little too ‘Eternal Sunshin’-ish.

The dialogue sparkle with energy and spontaneity. Editing really capture the discontinuity and unreliability of the world of the lead character. Background score is not the most subtle or the least manipulative, but it does pack punch. Cinematography has captured all the bizarre tin and timber of Prague in the most abrasive way. The wild energy of many scenes owes much to the timing and improvisation of its actors. Really loved the execution of some scenes where characters jabber in frantic overlap.

(Spoilers ahead)

The twist in the end was not completely there. For one thing, it was not entirely unpredictable. And the whole device and the way the reveal plays out reeked too much of ‘Sixth sense.’ But the film maker did a sensible thing by shifting the ‘epicenter’ of the climax to a following scene where Chandan meets Elena again. Chandan says somewhere towards the end- ‘I will make sure she never leaves me.’ In a way it made poetic justice to show their meeting again. Yes, his insecurity about relationships has made him choose the perfect way of preserving his lover for infinity in this uncertain world- inside his mind…

Adventures of Tintin: why Spielberg didn’t have a midlife crisis?

I  desperately want to get into the head of Spielberg. What does this man want with his life now? As a filmmaker, he has achieved more than what most of us can even imagine in our dreams. So how does he keep his spirit intact? After Jurassic park, Schindler’s list and A.I., what next?The world is closely watching  his next move.

…And then he decides to make a movie on Tintin with motion capture technology. Fine, if this is what he wants to do at this point of his career, there must be a reason. He would be seeing something in Tintin like what Aaron Sorkin saw in Mark Zuckerberg or what Nolan saw in Batman or what Anthony Minghella saw in English Patient or what Kubrick saw in Clockwork Orange or what David Fincher saw in Fight Club….

But if it was there, I didn’t find it.

The typical Spielbergian spectacular set pieces, intrigue, mystery, dry humour running through the action sequences- everything is in there. I don’t have a complaint that Spielberg didn’t uphold the spirit of original Tintin comics. You get in the movie what you get in the comics. The sheer boyish sense of adventure, the mystery of clues coming together, the quirky supporting characters, wild chases, Snowy-all of it is there except the fact that ‘action in every 5 minutes or less’ appears a little engineered and tiresome in the movie. In my opinion, he upheld the spirit of Tintin with a little too much faith. May be he tried to realise the potential of Tintin series. But did Spielberg try to fully utilise his own potential?

Tips to keep writing every day

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I got some mails after my post on the first draft. People keep asking for tips to write everyday. To find time. To keep enthusiasm from waning. To finish off the task.

The problem with writing scripts (for that matter anything long) is that you have to hammer at it for months. Writers are notorious for their low self confidence. And assessment of one’s work is very objective. Some times you love it. Some times you hate it. So how to keep going?

These are some of the things that have helped me.

There is no ‘not enough time’
You have 15 minutes free? You should be writing. Never wait to get that major chunk of time to start writing. You will only be able to write a line of dialogue? Do that 10 times a day for two days and you almost have a scene. People become philosophical and talks about the need to get into the mood to write. But sometimes you may be just rationalising your procrastination. Getting into the zone fast is an habit that you can learn.

Writing does not need fingers
Writing does not mean that you should be in front of a laptop or a legal pad. One gets many breaks in plotting and character bits while travelling or walking or just sitting through a boring lecture. Actually I have done most of my outlining for the heist script while travelling to my workplace. Continue reading

First draft over…finally!

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Finally the first draft of my heist script has been completed. I know that the draft sucks but nothing can take away the exhilaration of typing ‘FADE OUT.’ It does a lot to your self confidence if you are able to stick to it till the end. Because a lot of uncertainties come up especially in the second act. It’s the make and break point of writing a script. If you are able to survive that, third act wont be much of a problem.

Completing a draft of a script does not prove anything. There are a lot of people out there who do that. But sustaining this passion for one long year while punching it out at the rate of one hour per day on average- I feel that at least I have proved to myself how serious I am regarding this ambition of being a scriptwriter.

There are certain things that I have learned from this experience.
1-What have I learned first and foremost is the importance of outlining in the completion of a script. But at the same time one needs to be aware how much outlining amount to how much script, page wise. Other wise a lot of your effort will disappear in rewriting. Continue reading

Script writing: my goals for 2009

                      2008 has been the most productive year for me until now as far as script writing is concerned. Though on paper I have only around 140 pages of a 1st draft, I have done regular systematic work last year.

When I plan for next year I have to take into account that I will be very busy in the second half of next year with my exams coming up. Currently I am putting average one to two hrs per day in scriptwriting.

 On most of the holidays I go into some coffee shop and punch the keys for around 3-4 hrs.
That kind of thing is not going to happen after next July until December. Whatever writing I am going to do I will have to fit in inside the study schedule. Long continuous sessions of writing will be injurious to my performance in exams. I will have to break it into 30-40 minute bits squeezed into intervals between sessions of reading. Outlining I can do during boring lectures and while travelling.
So the current average 2 hrs writing/day will come down to 1 hr/day in the last 6 months of 2009. I will have to take that into account while setting goals.
My goals are
1) Complete 1st draft of ‘the three’ by mid february. Throw in a quick rewrite by march end. Not sure whether I will be able to squeeze in a second rewrite before July considering my thesis submission deadline in June. If not, one rewrite will do.
2) Show it to my friends while on vacation in July. Get the feedback. Then put in the 2nd/3rd rewrite by end of August.
3) Restart outlining ‘River bends’ after finishing the first draft of ‘the three’ in February. Write the full treatment by April end. The confusion is whether I should start writing a first draft of River bends after that or should move on to outlining other concepts that I have. The game plan is to start meeting contacts in the film industry in 2010. Should I have a completed draft and 10 treatments by then or 2 full scripts and 5 treatments? I am thinking about the first option more because there is more chance that one will read a treatment rather than a full script. You need one script to show your writing skills. If you have more number of well etched out concepts from different genres there is more chance that some one will find one of the them interesting. A draft takes lot of your time.
4) Increase the number of my contacts with people with similar interests. However good one’s scripts are, one cannot be a successful movie writer without good social skills. More than 80% of writers in film industry get their 1st work through contacts rather than the quality of their work. So the process of reaching out should continue.
5) Continue this blog. It is also a part of socialising. When I put my goals here I hope I am under more pressure to fulfill them. but one thing I have realised after starting this blog is that blogging can be a deterrent to actual script writing. There should be no confusion regarding priorities. A very popular blog with thousands of followers is not my dream. I would rather become a scriptwriter. Daily posting is an unrealistic and unsustainable goal. Once in two three days will do. Even once in a week is OK for me. I have decided that if this blog proves to be too much of a distraction for my writing there should be no mercy in killing it. Any way right now I think I can handle this.

Photo by ToniVC