Since the release of my last film, Ratline (2011), I’ve hesitated to begin writing another screenplay. This is not due to any writer’s block – in fact, I’ve had the opposite problem.
There are stories that I conjure on my own and become excited about, plus I find myself brain-storming additional story ideas with select creative people. As a result, I soon have too many story ideas that I fall in love with. This is a good problem to have, except that I really need to pick one story and start turning that into my next screenplay. This I have not been able to do – until now.
I’ve also been involved in other projects since Ratline was completed, all of which added to my delays in getting my fingers typing on my next screenplay. In some cases, these projects ended up being postponed until, soonest, 2013 - or terminated entirely. In other cases, great experiences bloomed, such as my being hired to direct 2nd Unit on Jim Mickle’s new feature film, We Are What We Are, starring Michael Parks (Red State, Planet Terror), Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, Witness), and Bill Sage (HBO’s Boardwalk Empire).
It was, in fact, working for five weeks on We Are What We Are that helped me figure out which of my story ideas I’m to start transforming into a screenplay. I went to upstate New York, where the film was shot, having narrowed my options down to two or three story ideas that really stood out. I came home at the end of the shoot having made my final choice.
Partly, I believe, the change of scenery and rhythms of life helped me focus and make a decision about which story should become my next screenplay. In addition, it was a conversation I had on set with actor/filmmaker Larry Fessenden (Habit, The Last Winter), who plays a small part in We Are What We Are, that helped things click into place for me. We did not talk in great detail about my story options - but our conversation oiled my brain gears, his input was motivating, and his talking about what he might be working on next helped energize me in terms of maintaining my own forward momentum.
For a month after We Are What We Are wrapped, I was playing catch-up, fulfilling obligations I’d committed to before the New York shoot, and simply getting back on track after being away from home for over a month. A few days ago, I finally started working on my next screenplay writing project – and it feels really good to not only have that focus again, but to shift from talking about it to actually doing it. None of this represents a guarantee that this screenplay will be the next film I work on. (In fact, I hope to have “distracting” opportunities come my way to consider as options.) There’s no guarantee that this screenplay will ever get produced at all. But that uncertainty is a major part of this game. I’m just happy to be, again, putting creative ideas down in screenplay form.
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze