A distinctive setting

At Soho Screenwriters tonight, David Lemon came to talk to us about how he developed the screenplay of his new movie. ‘Faintheart’ goes before the cameras later this month. It’s a British comedy set in the world of military re-enactments.

The film started as a sitcom idea, but evolved into a feature in late 2005. Having had his script optioned by Slingshot films, he spent 2006 developing the movie with Vito Rocco, a neophyte director chosen by the producers.

After success in the MySpace MyMovieMashup competition, more producers came on board: Vertigo Films and Film Four. That meant that the budget went fom micro- (less that £500K) to low- (around £1.3m).

David says that more producers means more notes, and that genres like comedies have plots that are more flexible, more open for producer input. If you write a carefully interlocked Hitchcock-style thriller, it is much more difficult to remove characters and subplots without destroying the whole structure.

One of the things that made life easier was the unique setting, a setting that hasn’t been covered in films very often, but one that many people can understand. As regards having to defend plot points and scene moments, David found it easier if he used symetry to point out that this point in act 1 sets up a payoff in act 3, or vice versa.

A thing to watch out for is that sometimes you get notes that reflect how they would write the script – not suggestions to help you tell the story you want to tell more effectively. At least the notes are mostly suggestions and not instructions.

David’s script editor told him that it was a good idea not to avoid big emotions and big scenes – otherwise you end up with the scale of TV drama.

Faintheart will be taken to Cannes in May seeking distribution, more on their tale then…

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