Juliane and I were brainstorming last night (Sunday) on our passion project and “Berlin abandoned to the four winds” movie called The Inner District – probably one of the more fun sessions we’ve had since we kicked off this puppy at the end of last month. For those of you who don’t yet know (is that even possible?!), it’s based upon an award-winning short story I wrote back in 2006 called “Jiri Sulc’s Astonishing 2010 Directive,” and it’s been fun as all get-out adapting it with Her Royal JB-ness.
We got to chewing the fat about the need for notes, whether or not notes are even helpful in the overall process of scriptwriting and designing content surrounding your film. Specifically: if you do end up making them, do you even refer to those fastidious little diary entries you scribble? Do they have any future value, or are they just taking up space and wasting precious A4? Your response to the question may have a huge environmental impact and legions of old-growth forests await your answer! To imagine that your decision has ramifications beyond just you and your movie…wow…
Juliane was also swift to mention how the director needs to know absolutely everything about her story universe, and she needs to know it cold. She needs to cherry pick story elements from the big bushel at the drop of a sombrero and can’t be delving too deeply into endless stacks and reams of dog-earned coffee-stained pages or inky squiggles in an effort to figure out the core nugget of what the story is, goshdammit.
Not only would this be double-clutching not becoming of the head honcho, who’d be constantly diving into note stacks, but it would, most assuredly, lead eventually to an utter break down in on-set dynamics as actors realize the director has no clue what’s going on, imperiling the chain of command.
But I take notes, still…why, you ask?
Personally, I feel notetaking helps to jog otherwise staid creative juices.
Even if they’re never used again, notes serve to stir psycho-electrical energies – yes, this is a physiological phenomenon, and no, I didn’t just make this up – energies which serve to concretize nebulous unformed opinions swirling around in the filmmaker’s head (or the screenwriter’s, in this instance). This might somehow eventually lead to a solid scene or two, but at least that which exists within the filmmaker’s squishy head now has an independent existence outside the idea originator’s mind and is now down on the page for all of posterity to enjoy.
The other reason I like to take notes is for a little-known reason I’m about to reveal: you can use them as premium pledge rewards (“the premium leads”) in your crowdfunding campaign(s)! You can offer up gussied-up hi-res PDF copies of your original notes/sketches for high-donating individuals, serving to demonstrate two distinct purposes:
- you can showcase the evolution of your project from its very earliest days, in order to shill the hell out of your total Basquiat-like creative brilliance for those legions of up-and-comers who will likely prostrate themselves at the hallowed altar of your indie film/documentary.
- you can use your notes as “proof-of-concept” for your creative methodology, if it has a logical order; that is, as a platform for other indies to model their own idea-generation efforts upon, showing ‘em how it’s done, baby.
For those high-pledging donors, assembling a bound copy of your original notes is a truly fucking kickass way to sweeten the pot and pay them due kudos for shelling out so many of their hard-won five-card stud poker earnings, and all for your little picture-in-development (fancy that?).
It’s also a means of immortalizing your work in a way few indies will have considered or will have had the stones large enough to consider (because they don’t want their art released to the rest of the world to critique, which is frankly bullshit, but let’s not go there for the moment). Remember –> you will always be 40-feet tall on this day, and with those flashy rough analog notes you’re granting your film an existence long after the klieg lights die down, those iPhone 4S’s cease snapping, and your fans stop Instagramming and gonzoing the shit out of your press conferences, Q&As, and the rest of the shit-er-ee.
Plus, you can justify that Amazon forest clear-cut you’re likely responsible for given all that A4 (or 8.5”x 11”, on the other side of L’Atlantique), even hammering out a nice piece of content about that. Remember, everything is a potential story. And ABR = Always Be Researching.
I find a lot of due merit in Juliane’s stated position…I mean, she is my script partner and creative foil and by obvious logical deduction the fucking awesomest person I know (take that!), but if left up to the frail whimsy of the fragile human grey matter, the magnificent narrative gleanings of our genius filmmaking minds will escape into the ether and be lost to posterity most likely for all time.
And, that, my dear friends and readers, would be a colossally shitty outcome, if you’re seeking a frank answer from me, and I know you only want the frankest from your Producer of Marketing and Distribution.
It’s high time to “go bi-”
Actually, I’m going to suggest from this point onward you try being a bit bi-…a note-taking bisexual, that is.
PRO TIP: I want you to consider going “both ways” from this point onward.
Have a scribe on duty (either a lowly intern plebe or perhaps even your smooth-talking, easy-riding Screenwriter-Designate), take meticulous notes throughout the process and then have your director memorize the respective story beats simultaneously (hence, “going both ways”), and see which technique is better or who wins. Even if you never make use of those notes, make sure to offer them up as a pledge reward, still. They’re just too valuable to waste. And another benefit is you’ll have stroked another item off your bucket list and be able to tell your grandkids once upon a time you went “the other way.” And in Berlin, this holds a lot of street cred, believe us!
Lastly, if during your temporary repose as a “note-taking bi-“ you enjoy “going both ways,” consider entrenching it as a permanent state of affairs for all of your creative endeavors. This way, you’ll always be covered, regardless of how you feel when you wake up in the morning.
The Oracle has spoken, and thank you again for your time.
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries
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