And Now, Some Good Words About Rewriting

We don’t know Jay McKinnon, but we’re rooting for him, thanks to this:

Batman Begins A Screenwriting Rewrite, by Jason McKinnon

I was channel surfing the other day and I stopped the second I spotted The Dark Knight. One of my favorite movies of all time…

I was instantly reminded of two things. First, Christopher Nolan’s brilliant film is still on of the best comic book movies ever made.  Second, it reminded me of a page one rewrite the film inspired way back when it first debuted in theaters.

I was in in college studying Broadcasting and an unfinished feature length screenplay was weighing heavily on me.  I started it in high school and it was painfully obvious when I saw all the rookie mistakes.  The characters came across as immature and there was a glaring plot hole in my story.  Yet, I wouldn’t allow myself to write anything new until I finished it.  This caused a problem because I couldn’t find the motivation to work on it.  In those days, it was easier to just go out and have fun then stay home and write.  Procrastination can be a dangerous habit to break.

The story was called Behind Max and it was about a high school basketball star desperate to find the support he needed to go for his dreams.  When I finished the first draft I really rushed to the end and this resulted in a very weak final act.  But really, the entire screenplay needed work.  What I needed was a spark.

That spark was Batman Begins.

Christopher Nolan’s incredible interpretation of Batman taught me a very important lesson. It taught me to step back and look at my own films in different ways.  To open my eyes to new approaches and different directions to take my screenplays.

I distinctly remember humming that unbelievable theme all the way home.  That night, I stayed in, printed out my script and read it start to finish.  I find you resist stopping to rewrite and tweak your script when it’s on paper.

Once I was finished reading the screenplay, I got out my notebook and got to work.

What is my story about?  What am I trying to say?  What have I said already?  How can I say it better?

By the end of that night, I had outlined a much better approach to Behind Max and I felt alive.  Things changed for me that day….Two days after that magical night, I…saw Batman Begins again and it had the same effect on me…. I sat down with my outline and my old script and started from scratch.  It took two weeks to finish the screenplay…. I was proud of what I had accomplished.  Proud to be a screenwriter.

[Re]Writing that screenplay taught me how much I loved to write.

Read it all

And the moral of this story?

“PRINT YOUR SCREENPLAY.  START OVER.”

It should be a screenwriting meme. Thanks, Jay!

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