First up, what’s Stranger with My Face about?
To quote the website:
“Deriving its name from the young adult novel by Lois Duncan, the festival is slanted towards the psychological side of horror. It explores the idea of the shadow self, tapping into archetypes like the evil twin and the mad woman in the attic. It’s focused on female filmmakers working in the genre, highlighting bold new work by independent filmmakers.”
The 10 by 10 challenge is to write 10 pages (or 10 mins) of a script that would suit an indie horror film production.
In the spirit of a challenge, I thought it’d be fun to take on something I’d never done before. Not even rarely done, or only done once, but NEVER done.
Before I even started writing it, I was anxious that it might all end in an embarrassing heap.
But I finished it, and I submitted it.
Admittedly, it took me right up until about 11.25pm on the final day to tidy it up and get the consistency right (with S.’s eagle-eye coming in really handy).
Getting started took me a while.
It wasn’t as much the content but the format. I knew scripts had set formats. What these formats were, however, remained a mystery to me. Kneeling at the feet of google (as I often do), I managed to find an excellent script formatting example and a sharp, short excerpt from The Godfather.
Armed with these, I pieced together the ten required pages.
It felt hard trying to tie up the narrative in a satisfying way in ten pages. My characters kept getting more verbose, and I had a weakness for over-setting the scene. I ended up having to kill a whole page of darlings.
Though I managed to complete the challenge, I was left with many questions about screenwriting: How much description is enough to set the scene? How free a ‘canvas’ does a director want with the script? What’s enough when it comes to back-story (particularly when you only have ten pages)?
I grappled in particular with how much a character’s speech should be ‘vernacularised’. I had to comb through and speechify the dialogue; I had too much formal writing in it. I read it out to myself when I had a few sections done – really ironed out conceits in dialogue.
Never having done any screenwriting before, I was woefully ignorant of the form.
The only thing I brought to the table was many, many hours of watching horror movies, and arguing about the best way to end a monster movie (as you do).
Our family watches the gamut of horror films, from art-house and classics to schlocky creature features. We cross over often with sci-fi horror, too. I feel like popping out a “Top 5” list of horror movies, but I. Just. Can’t. There’s too many. And it depends on mood, company, and sub-sub-genre (scary horror, horror comedy, slasher flick, alien invasion, giant insect movie…).
One of my enduring favourites is LAKE PLACID. It’s a giant crocodile movie! There are jokes about Maine! You get a prissy Bridget Fonda! It has everything.
(No, I don’t know why I like it so much either, but I DO)
What I do know is that the Stranger with My Face Horror Festival (7-10 March 2013; Hobart) sounds fabulous, and I thank the challenge convenors for the opportunity to play in their sandpit for the challenge!