Lessons Learnt: Dealing with Dilemmas - Part 1

We’re the creators of the web series Out of It. This is our new weekly column to share with you all the things we learnt along the way.

3. Dealing with Dilemmas – Part 1: The Script

Kill Your Darlings: Just do it!

As a writer, this piece of advice just keeps popping up all the time, but it’s because it’s annoyingly true. There were numerous lines in our script that we begrudgingly had to cut as they worked on paper but didn’t work on screen. As a quick example, in our first draft one of the characters reveals she would “like to squeeze the youth out, like a tube of toothpaste.” We found the tone was too broad for the comedy we wanted, we didn’t realistically believe a character would say this at a dinner party.

Brace yourself, take on board other people’s advice (you may be too close to the project) and at the end of the day if it doesn’t work; get rid!

A Picture is a Thousand Words: It’ll last longer

We found that most of our cuts tended to be exposition. For example; our first episode is set at a birthday party. We had a half a page of dialogue about how three of our characters had drunkenly eaten the birthday cake their flatmate Chloe had lovingly made. Ultimately what we wanted to set up was that three of the characters take Chloe for granted. We found that this can be done with two shots:

  1. Chloe smiling at the group.
  2. The group looking blankly at her.

Removing exposition means your script will be quicker to film and more realistic.

Cutting it Fine: How late can you edit?

Even during filming, we wanted to cut and alter lines - although we managed to hold ourselves back since there were enough dilemmas to deal with without changing the script on set. The structure of the pilot always stayed the same but, needless to say, there was no “final draft” and we kept working on it until a couple of days before filming. While we kept adding to and changing the script, the closer you get to filming the more it affects your cast and crew. For example, two weeks before filming we made sure that our edits did not affect the shooting schedule or storyboards for the episode. It is also important that your actors have enough time to be comfortable with the lines, the more changes you make the less time they have for prep. In our experience, there is no set answer to how late you can edit, as it depends on lots of different circumstances but you should always try to make it the best it can be!

We would love to hear your comments below and any lessons you’ve learnt along the way too. Join us next week to discuss Dealing with Dilemmas – Part 2: On Set.

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