Just sent Jeannie

the first ideas I have on the project I’m working on with her.  The problem with being a hired gun is that you’re never quite sure of exactly what your employers want.  I think the biggest reason for this is they don’t entirely know either.  And shit, that’s happened in my work all the time.  In fact, that’s why I stopped writing detailed treatments and outlines for myself.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve outlined something and at least a good half of it turned out completely differently.

I remember at AFI one of the things we were told a good idea was to do was write full biographies of each of the characters.  Right down to what kind of pizza toppings they’d like.  At the time, this seemed excruciatingly important to me.  At the same time, one of the things Seth told us was anything that happened before page 1 doesn’t fucking matter.

At the time I thought Seth was just being a flippant dick, which he was, but I’ve since fallen down more on his side of the fence than the other teachers’.  Having written about 12 feature screenplays, about 2/3 of which are any good, I’ve realized that ultimately, extensive outlining and treatmenting is pretty much nothing more than:

mental masturbation.

And as much as masturbation can be good, it just doesn’t measure up to boning a hot chick like you’re saving the species.  Or hot guy, if that’s your thing.  And if you have no bone with which to bone, then a toy or finger!  Hey, I’m open to it all, as long as it’s as if you were saving the species.

Oh, and for any of you out there for whom outlining and treatmenting works, awesome.  Good on ya.  Some day you’ll have to explain to me how.

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~ by Anton A. Hill on December 29, 2008.

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