Surviving the screenwriting food chain, one revision at a time

Archive for January, 2011

Killing your character

I have this morbid obsession when it comes to screenwriting. In life I believe that you should always defend the ones you love, no matter the cost. In writing, I say fuck ’em. This obsession of mine started in a sophmore creative writing class, when I couldn’t stand my classmates sappy love story, and when asked for suggestions on her very weak ending I bluntly replied that she should have both of them die brutal deaths. While I would never actually hope this on anyone, it eventually turned her bland love story into a decent tragedy. And so my motto was born.

Since this random grumpy workshop way back when, I have noticed the concept applying to more and more aspects of story telling. I was recently found guilty of murder by keyboard when I transformed a cheesy Garden State-y script into a movie about suicide, redemption, and eventuall heroic but tragic demise, and to tell the truth Im much happier with it.

The term works both ways however. One of my fellow screenwriters, whose scripts I’ve always enjoyed, is determined to have his character commit an abortion in the end of his very humorous self discovery script. The decision sparked much debate in class, and proved another aspect of this little theory of mine.

“Killing your character” extends far beyond the literal interpretation. When it comes to screenwriting and film making, it is often the best ideas that don’t last. I’ve had entire script concepts stem from one little scene, but when it came to the revision process the scene just didn’t fit. The same has been true for my short films and other projects. Beautiful shots of setting suns, with the gorgeous couple holding hands as they walk towards the horizon is really great, but if it doesn’t work with the story it needs to get the chop.

I believe at heart all writers are over-emotional romantics, but please folks, when it comes time to turn your great concept into a great script, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Just make sure that you can argue probable cause when you need to plead your case….

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The time is near!

Hello to all of my early followers! I wont kid myself by assuming that anyone other than my whacky aunt and fellow screenwriters are following me, but for practice sake I’ll go ahead and introduce myself:

I am currently studying screenwriting at Boston University, and on the verge of finding out whether I can turn this expensive passion of mine into a promising career. After four years spent at two universities, eight tuition bills, 33 courses, and countless friends, dining hall meals, and all-nighters, I will finally walk in May and the title student will be replaced with graduate.

In the remaining semester I have here in Boston, I am taking my professor’s advice and writing about my experiences in the study of film. I’ll be writing about various assignments, role models, films, genres, and whatever other randomly relatable topics fill my head. It should be an interesting semester’s worth of blogs, as my mind tends to be very tangential, but I promise to do my best to relate every skewed thought back to the realm of writing and cinema in as many ways as possible.

So to properly introduce myself; I am Evan Olmsted, a 21 year old Allston resident who found his way from Maine to BU by way of UNH. I first discovered my love for film making while editing snowboard footage in highschool, and combined it with a life-long interest in storytelling when I took up screenwriting. The decision brought me to the big(ish) city where I learned to turn prose into scene direction (something Im still struggling with), and start thinking in the most cinematic ways possible.  Upon graduating I will move to LA and leave my love-affair for the New England comforts behind in an attempt to establish myself as a successful screenwriter.

So until then, I invite all who are interested to follow along as I attempt to make my academic, personal, and social endeavors all as entertaining as possible in an effort of proving my belief that all aspects of life lend to a film makers work.

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