Development

by Andrew

Development on Nor’easter came to an end this afternoon as I turned in the final draft to Veronica, our producer. Sending the script felt oddly anti-climactic, given that most of the final changes were for doctrinal language, location-specific actions, and needs of the shooting schedule, but putting this part of the process behind me is another weight off my shoulders.

I stopped counting early in 2010, but I believe as of today, we’re pushing up against forty drafts of the thing. In doing that much revision, reading, and workshopping of the script, I have slowly learned the level of fluency with my material that I believe is necessary when producing a film. The elements are probably predictable to anyone who’s ever read a book on filmmaking – drama, action, motivation, justification – but they’ve been very difficult for me to pin down when writing. Scripts often feel to me like they could turn in any direction at any time, and if, like me, you’ve never felt total fluency with your material, it’s hard to know when you’re there.

So much of Nor’easter was originally based in ideas, concepts, and un-actable, non-dramatic premises that I am almost embarrassed to look back at the early versions. I also rushed to share it with others, a predictable result of beginning the script in a writing class (where I was required to show it). But the three-year long development process I fell into forced me to build my knowledge of the world, the characters, their rationales, and their choices, and to justify it all with my developing sense of what I was trying to communicate to the viewers about youth and faith. I am so grateful for it and for those who put me through it, because it’s only because of this process that I can answer the questions my new collaborators ask me about the world we are creating.

About a year ago, when I thought we might be only a few weeks away from production, a close collaborator could sense that I was growing impatient with the seemingly endless revisions, and urged me to enjoy the process. The process is long, but looking at the track records of my favorite filmmakers, it appears natural. Recognizing that, and actually feeling it with my own script, has taken all the rush out of the production.