I’m bouncing at my keyboard over here, anxious to start posting about the actual writing of THE BEST SCREENPLAY 2010. But realize I have just skimmed the surface of a lot of the research and pre-production planning that goes into such an endeavor. Because this idea has been simmering for quite sometime, I’ve had a lot of notes and research material accumulate, some of the best of which were not part of a focused plan. For instance, how reading a CALVIN AND HOBBES collection and coming across the one where Calvin’s food does the most famous Soliloquy from Hamlet, led me to further develop some Shakespeare-esque themes and the best of all — how a broken car wash that left my mother driving down the road in a soap-mobile, inspired my 1st 10 pages.
Many of these incidentals combined to make me recall a class I taught to ad executives at the New York Times, entitled HOW TO BE CREATIVE.
The premise was simple, the ad department did a lot of creative for customers on spec in order to drive ad sales, (and well we all know how badly the newspaper industry needed help to avoid where they are today) so they wanted to empower their account execs with some creativity.
The crux of my teaching was to be more mindful and jot down more of the everyday. I started by having them all remove their wrist-watches (and no, I didn’t break them). I then handed out colored pencils and paper, and asked them to draw, to the best of their ability, a depiction of their watches. If they flat out refused to draw, (yes some in a class of this title, do) then they had to describe in detail their watch. (Square face, numbers, color of face etc…) The results of this exercise are ALWAYS surprising. In the entire room I usually only get 1 or 2 accurate depictions of watches that are on a persons wrist and looked at endlessly throughout the day!
Hopefully, as writers you all are observant by nature, I know a lot of writers hang out in coffee shops etc… for dialogue help, but I believe we all miss a lot of things that we see everyday, when we least expect it, as creators of characters and worlds we all need to be relentless — to the point of obsession — about our absorbency factor. Go forth – Be a sponge – and you will be a more creative person. Just be sure to have a pen handy, it doesn’t matter what you jot your observations on, just do it.
Anybody have the time?