Saturday, June 23, 2012

Overdue blog part 3: Bathurst

Yet again we can take it as a sign that I've been too busy working on the project to blog. So what have I been busy doing? Assembling, editing and working on the first version of the script.

This process began with a trip to Bathurst a few weekends ago, where I worked with my mentor Colette.

I'd already compiled the transcripts of the interviews I'd conducted, along with "found" materials--court transcripts, newspaper articles, a letter, and so on. I'd put together chunks of text divided into different key themes and sent them through to Colette. So armed with all of this printed on a small forest of paper, we locked ourselves in a room (in fact, it was an observation room in the psychology department at the university; only towards the end of the day did we notice the two cameras in the room observing us and realised what the sign on the door said) and began shuffling pages.

The method, which we've now christened 'paper on the ground' (also known as POG!) is just as sophisticated as it sounds.

Rather than culling from an enormous amount of text, we instead selected key bits and laid those down on the floor, moving, chopping, and swapping text until we arrived at some sort of structure. 

This took a very intense four hours. Then we painstakingly collected all of it and photocopied it in order, just to be doubly safe.

Then we headed out to a bar for some wood-fired pizza and wine as a reward.

The next step was assembling this all on my computer to get a first cut. This was quite easy, as it was simply a case of cutting and pasting for a few hours. I expected a first draft wouldn't be far off. Now I realise I'm going to have to take my time with it. Once I had the first cut on my computer, I started making small edits and moving things around. Then I remembered some additional content I wanted to include and had to find where to add that. Now, the balance of the structure had been thrown off, so more changes might be needed. This is before I get to the point of line by line edits. This is also before I get to the point of assigning/creating characters--but I need to have a clearer direction in terms of content before I can begin shaping to that level.

So while I'm calling this the first draft, it's already had multiple revisions--before any actor even sees it. I want to make sure I've done as much as I can before I get some actors to workshop a reading with me.

At the same time, one of the great traps of this story is the extraordinary level of details so I must always be aware of an audience that is new to the case and the story. Will they follow the story? What level of detail is necessary? What is the best way to link these two things, while working within the constraints of verbatim?

I'll have answers to some of those questions next time.