I had an unexpected lunch yesterday with some friends I met in St. Louis this past June. Â They’re moving to NYâ€”the Big Apple Black Hole has sucked in two more creativesâ€”and stopped in DC on the way to see family. Â It was a lovely surprise.
Amanda is a fine actor who worked with me on the workshop of REALS at the HotCity Theatre. Â Her husband Cody, who I was meeting for the first time, is a filmmaker, and in time our conversation turned to the subject of whether I’d ever write for film ever again.
The thing is: temperamentally, I think I’m actually very well suited to the medium. Â I have a measure of flexibility with regard to my work that I’ve come to understand is at least somewhat rare among playwrights. Â When a director starts changing things, and actors start taking my dialogue in new directions, and editors re-cut my story in an entirely new way, I’m fine with it — I don’t care if they make things different, as long as they make them better, too.
But I also know my limitations. Â I know I don’t think about screenplays the way they’re supposed to be thought about. Â I think in terms of dialogue and character and motivation and poetry and emotion. Â Film is a much more visual medium, and while I do sometimes dwell on the visual elements of my playsâ€”even sketching mock sets and storyboarding scenes from time to timeâ€”it’s not a high priority for me creatively. Â Film is alsoâ€”at least conventionallyâ€”far more rigidly structured and plotted and paced. Â It’s more formal, in a wayâ€”a way that doesn’t always call to me.
I also just plain think it would be audacious of me to assume that just because I’ve had moderate success as a playwright, I should also automatically be able to write a screenplay. Â (People also make the assumption that I should automatically be able to act and direct, too, which I find equally baffling.) Â I have too much respect for people who write the films I admire to assume I have the necessary skill to be good at it.
And yet… I have, from time to time, tried my hand at it. I wrote one full-length screenplay, early in my career, that I subsequently deleted — scattering the bits and bites of which it was made into the electronic winds so that no one would ever read itâ€”because it was rotten. Â I’ve written two films for the 48 Hour Film Project, the first of which was also disastrous, and I also wrote the short film I blogged about yesterday, Bewildered. Â Oh, and several scenes from my play THE FAITHKILLER were also filmed and integrated into the Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s production of the play. Â Something about the medium does still speak to me, and I would definitely like to do it again… if the circumstances were really, really right.
Which is exactly what I told Cody yesterday, in fact. I think I’ve done itâ€”written for filmâ€”enough now to satisfy my basic curiosity: my need to just try it a few times. What I want now is a situation in which someone is going to challenge me, to inspire me, to propose a project that will make me stretch a bit. So for the time being… I’m going to be selective. I only have so much time to create in this life, after allâ€”so why work on anything less than exactly what I want to be doing? I am now officially setting my project-selection discernment on high.