The Pit Of Man’s Fears

Whilst chugging through the script for Parallel (and chugging is the only word to use currently) I’m becoming overwhelmed by the feeling that this whole thing might never clear the hurdle waiting at the end. I might take the time to polish it and get it readable but there’s the risk that it’ll be rejected at the end. A couple of weeks ago I put Order For Burning up online in an effort to pitch it again. I’ve heard nothing back. Perhaps the timing of this means that I’m reflecting on Parallel a lot more than I would usually. I can make it a solid story but will that be enough?

As a result I’ve been thinking about writing in other formats. For a long, long while I’ve toyed with getting a book done. I’d never truly put anything towards it because I was always of the opinion that I was a screenwriter, that nothing else should occupy my time. Films were pretty much the be all and end all of any career I might possibly have. Anything else just seemed like a waste. Then, for the first time in many years, I took a break from writing ‘EXT. DARK FOREST. NIGHT’ and began to write a couple of short stories. I’ve found it quite liberating.

For the last few years I’ve always tried to write scripts that could easily be made on a smaller budget. When I was at college there were plenty of hopeful writers who would jump in and start their first script with The Matrix as a starting point (it was 1999, give me a break here).¬†Alongside driving our script writer tutor up the wall it meant that all these stories would usually only ever be concepts. The thought of actually just writing something not featuring space ships, other dimensions and mysterious creatures never really occurred to any of us. It was only when we were shown a few examples of movies which concentrate on human interactions rather than large scale action. The two that stuck out for me were ‘Mystery Train’ by Jim Jarmusch and ‘Chungking Express’ by Wong Kar-Wai.

mystery train.jpg
Mystery Train, a film with three interconnected stories in the same hotel. Yes, that is Screaming Jay Hawkins.

Most of the films I’ve written since have been on this kind of vibe. Partly this is because they would be easier to make if somebody picked them up (as Robotics was, being set pretty much in only two locations) and partly because it’s practising for being more disciplined in writing. The problem is though that there’s always a barrier to actually having a finished product with scripts. It needs another step before getting to an audience. Writing stories or a novel means the end result is direct, from author to audience. It’s something that really appeals to me right now. There’s also the chance to expand settings and characters without having to worry about putting it up on screen afterwards.

I won’t be abandoning Parallel completely, it’ll be bubbling along as I go by but I was perhaps investing too much into the one project as far as responses go. I’ll still be trying to write something like The Twilight Zone, as it always has been.