As 2021 dawned on New Year’s Eve, I was spending my afternoon scratching my head over my laptop. Something just wasn’t right with the stage plays I was developing for my ECP, and I was annoyed that it had taken me until late December to figure that out. For so many months, through three official meetings, I’d insisted to myself that I could still make it work and that live performance for a real audience was definitely the way to go. They needed to react to these pieces in real time, they’d undergo an assault on the senses and it would absolutely be doable. So why all the doubt? I’d assumed that the amount of time I’d spent getting stuck was just down to my own fears and lack of confidence, my insistence on questioning every word or sentence I ever put to the page.
That day, though, it suddenly occurred to me that while my ideas could be realised on the stage, that didn’t necessarily mean they should be. During the very first discussion of one idea, back in early July, my supervisor noticeably bristled as I told him of my intentions. He asked how much experience I had of theatre (certainly not much in the age of coronavirus) and why my script specifically needed to be written for it. He then subtly indicated that I should consider reimagining them as screenplays – and I now realise he’d been right all along. While I did and still do enjoy writing for the stage, I’d been struggling to move forward because there was nothing in either of my two scripts that justified its use at all. The action could take place easily enough, but it was too contained, and it wasn’t using all of the stage space as effectively as it should have been (that’s a key part of the marking criteria).
A quick email to our course leader was the answer to my problems. Once I had been assured that it wouldn’t be a problem to switch to screenplay format, I got to work – and now, just over two weeks later, my first short film drafts are complete. I had to resurrect an idea I’d scrapped previously, since at least three screenplays must be submitted, but it was much easier to write in its new form. In fact, I felt much freer with all of them, and I think what I’m trying to communicate to the viewer can be conveyed much easier. I thought the journey ahead looked bright before, but it looks even brighter now, although plenty of changes will still need to be made. There’s still an accompanying essay to consider too…