Several months ago, we had a crazy idea: What if we removed what seems to be the biggest barrier to a screenwriter’s success, and watched what happened? Well, we’re a little crazy, so we went for it! And you know what? It’s working.
Reading blogs, scrolling through Twitter, and gauging the consensus of screenwriters everywhere, it was clear that so many of you were juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities to make ends meet and still make time for writing. If you could just get ahead with money, you’d be able to finish that screenplay. So, we put out the call, and thousands of you responded to the opportunity to have your bills paid for three months while you wrote a feature-length screenplay. We could only choose one, though, and the winner was Zachary Rowell.
We’re nearing the finish line for Zachary, and he’s met every commitment he’s made. He finished his screenplay early while giving the writing community weekly updates on his progress, thoughts, and challenges with the process. And now, with the time he has left, he’s finessing his first draft.
This week, he’s done something pretty cool: He screen recorded himself making revisions to his screenplay, “Stillwater Runs Deep.” You can watch it below!
Warning: some adult language is used in the screenplay example in this video.
"Hello! So, here we are. I told you last week that I would try to record a bit of the rewriting process, and here we are. The scene I’m working on here is early on in the script, around page 12, and when I was reading over the script, I made notes, as I said in the previous blog. I made notes about what I wanted to change, and this was part of the sequence, it’s seven or eight pages I just thought could be better. It seemed a little slow, a little muddied, I don’t know if that’s the right word. And also, the inciting incident in this script right now happens around page 39 and I want it to be a little sooner, like 34 possibly, and I think this is the area where I can cut some things and kind of tighten everything up.
So, right here is a scene I had and I’m deleting it now. It shows Rocky, Calvin and Dusty kind of putting out Christmas decorations in the dealership, and they’re kind of struggling a bit. But, it’s not needed, because later in the same little sequence, Tia comes in and kind of helps them along and shows them how it’s done, and I think we can just jump right into that. So, I’m cutting it out. I don’t think it’s needed. The only thing is Rocky’s introduction. That’s where Rocky’s introduced. But, he has another scene a little bit down where he has a customer coming in and she has a kid and she sees the three Santa’s all together and that’s a fine place to introduce him. So, I’m going to replace that scene I just deleted, this scene right here, which is Calvin talking to a tow truck driver. It’s an important scene. I can’t give anything away, but it’s an important scene and it needs to be there. So, we’re going to move it up to where the previous scene was. I think it’s a fine jump. From Calvin’s home life, now we’re going, he’s uh, talking to the tow truck driver at work, and then we can get in at the same time as he’s talking to the tow truck driver, Tia can already be in the dealership working on the decorations.
So, it’s the whole advice of just jumping right into things. Sometimes, a little bit of fluff is not needed. Just get into things and find some areas where you can cut, and so that is what we’re doing here. If we’re here, obviously you can’t spot them walking out now, they’re going to be walking in. So, I’m going to have to change that and change several things. I’ll have to change the action descriptions here because she’s already working, it’s not later anymore, it’d be at the same time. Yeah, just little things I’m going to have to change now with that. And like I said, I had to push back Rocky’s introduction.
You know, I’m stressing out a bit. I was talking to my girlfriend, and I was telling her I was stressed with this rewrite. And she’s like, well, the goal was just to create a first draft right? And I was like, yeah, that was the goal. And she was like, you already did it then. And I’m like, yeah, that’s true, but no one wants to share a first draft really. It’s hard enough sharing a screenplay, but like a first draft, with everybody reading it, it kind of makes you feel vulnerable. But you know, what I get done is what I get done. It will be a first draft and a half, basically, with this little small rewrite that I’m doing.
Overall, I’m pleased with the script. I really like it. I think it’s a lot of fun. You know, obviously changes need to be done and need to be made, and that’s what I will continue to keep doing even after the deadline has passed.
Yeah, so, what are we doing here. So, deleting that one scene has a ripple effect. Everything has to be changed now. And that's part of the rewriting process, the joys of rewriting. I guess I’m just giving myself a five-minute limit here because my last screen recording went on for like 14 minutes and I felt like I didn’t want to put you all through that again. Put a little cap on it, and yeah, just a little glimpse into what rewriting is all about, at least my version of rewriting.
Hopefully, you found something helpful in this. I don’t know what your process looks like. Let me know if you’d like. Any tips, any tricks. And, yeah, I don’t know why I’m mindlessly scrolling up and down right here. Just recorded it and completely forgot why I’m doing this. Probably no reason. This is madness.
Okay, we’ll end it here. Hope everyone has a happy holiday, whatever you celebrate, and I’ll see you soon!” – Screenwriter Zachary Rowell, Winner of SoCreate’s “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes