A Completed Script, Some Ongoing Research, & a New Screenplay

A Pile of My ScreenplaysOn November 21st, I finished the script for the documentary I’ve been writing. The process was interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the process of creating a format that made sense from a production point of view. I started by using the dual dialogue feature in Final Draft. That way I could create narration and character voice overs that would be linked to corresponding visual and audio archives. For copyright purposes, I also needed to annotate the script. I used the ScriptNote function in Final Draft for that purpose. Well, the combination of the dual dialogue and extensive ScriptNotes seemed to be too much for Final Draft, or perhaps my laptop, to handle. A number of frustrating technical problems ensued. My solution was to ditch the dual dialogue and ScriptNote features. Instead, I wrote the script in Final Draft with the use of “Archival Footage” as a character after nearly every narration or character entry. I then created a Word document with two columns. I put the narration and character voice overs in the left column; the column on the right contains a reference to archival footage corresponding to the narration and character voice overs. Additionally, I created endnotes-136 of them to be exact-which were simpler for me to work with than Final Draft’s ScriptNotes. The resulting Word document is clear and clean and I avoided all technical issues in Final Draft that resulted from my extensive use of dual dialogue and ScriptNotes. Although the process of transferring what was in a Final Draft document to a Word document added some time to the project, I am happy with the result. Once I’d finished the script, I added a title page formatted the way the Final Draft template appears and saved the final Word document as a PDF. Problems solved.

The documentary’s producer has hired two archivists who will find the materials that support the script. We had a productive conference call the other day. I was pleased to learn that the script has been well-received, and that the format I created will assist the archivists’ efforts.  They estimate three months for their work. In the meantime, the producer is searching for a narrator, some of the people I quoted in the script who are still living, and actors to read the parts of those who have either passed away or are not interested in participating.

The bottom line for me on this project is that my efforts are largely finished. The script may need some rework depending on what the archivists find. Otherwise, as the writer, my job is done.

That means it’s time for whatever is next. I’m still working on a piece of non-fiction to support the proposed television series I mentioned in an earlier blog entry. That piece is still deep in the research phase at this point. I hope to have that research completed by May of 2023, or at least far enough along to draft a complete outline and to begin drafting chapters by then. And I’ve returned to Nonessential Personnel, Nick Temple File no. 7. However, I decided to write it first as a feature-length screenplay. I’m in screenplay mode at the moment, having written four of them in the last few months, so I’m going to stay there for the time being. Switchback, the first Nick Temple File, was originally a screenplay before I converted it to book, as was The Holy Lance. I’ll likely repeat that process with Nonessential Personnel.

Lots of writing done, and lots more to do. It has been a productive year, and here’s hoping that trend continues in 2023.