Filmmaking is a small miracle, a coming together of a cast, crew and favourable conditions that enable all of these things to synchronise in such a way as to deliver a desired effect. Someone once said I film is made three times… once in the conception of its screenplay, then in the shoot and finally in the editing room. There’s a great deal of wisdom in this statement, speaking to the malleable nature of a film in its various states. Much like The Fountain functioned like water in all three of its states, film can be manipulated into various forms or shapes by an intuitive assembly, juxtaposition and illusion. Perhaps this is why David Lynch’s film ideas have an organic feel, able to filter into various molds as if mercury.

transforming your vision

It’s one thing to dream it. Filmmakers can concoct scenes that take on a life of their own, allowing their imagination to run wild with a strong visual element. The trick is to transpose these flights of fancy into words that are easy to comprehend without requiring the screenwriter there to explain their overarching vision. Perhaps this is why it’s easier for writer-directors who are able to fill in the missing pieces when it comes to the second phase of a film’s creation on shoot day and then to filter into the third in the editing suite too.

The reason screenwriting is so challenging is that it’s a conversation with your reader, trying to keep them invested in the characters and story as well as formulating the vision in their heads. As much as you unleash your imagination, it’s about keeping one foot on the ground, keeping your reader tethered without losing them to the great beyond. This isn’t about quashing your dreams but ordering them in such a fashion that they can be visualised without getting lost. There’s a tendency for new filmmakers to overcook their screenplays, possibly overreaching with unfilmable elements, botching the tone with outlandish departures or even throttling every bit of subtext out of the script.

As much as we want to realise the full extent of our visions, there needs to be more accessibility and context to our storytelling. As Leonardo Da Vinci is attributed as saying, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. This sums up screenwriting… telling a story without becoming convoluted and doing it such a way as to condense meaning into its most efficient form. As original and mind-bending as your vision may be, unless you’re the one turning it into a film, you need to decipher your words in such a way as to make them intelligible to everyone who gets a copy of your script. The miracle is in concentrating all the moving parts to get as close to what you originally envisaged as possible with the flexibility to adjust course.

Transforming Your Vision into Words
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