This is my page for finished works that I have written, or stuff that is close to being finished.
I am well underway in my reconstruction of my movie Derby Double and as I have moved forward chopping and changing and tightening the script, one thing has not changed. The atmosphere of the Football scenes.
If you have ever been to a Football match, it isn’t just the play your aware of. You’re away of it’s most important aspect. The crowd. Other than American Football there is no other sport I am aware of where the crowd makes it an event. I went to Stamford Bridge as a boy and believe me live matches have television beat by a mile. The crowd makes it a party, with the singing of songs, the chanting and clapping for your club. In the movie, I describe all those songs and the chanting and clapping as a symphony of support. When the team’s winning, there is a sea of scarves and banners all over the stand, like in no other sport. Yes I know some people will argue that the Steelers terrible towels probably had any sport beat in terms of that support. Not in my mind. At least not in Britain at a Football match. Now that has those towels beat by a mile.
As I was writing Derby Double, I wanted to capture the atmosphere more than anything else. It had to be there, otherwise I didn’t think this movie would work. I’ve not seen a Football movie that does that. I think in no other sport, do players feed off their crowd than English Football players. I wanted to bring the audience to a sports party. It’s an intense wild affair that cannot be duplicated like any other sport. To capture the essence, the match had to mean something. The tension of a moment had to create that crowd fever, whether it be the match where Mick finally explodes onto the scene, or it was the match for the Championship where Mick gets her first taste of what it’s like to lead a side to glory.
The most important match scene to me was the FA Cup Final. The movie starts in the 1980’s, the troubles are increasing and it ends around 1990, ten years after Seamus left due to injury and due to Hannah’s murder. Seamus comes back to a different sport and he’s in a different time. What hasn’t changed is the crowd, just as intense as ever. Seamus feeds off that support and that crowd. The crowd brings the joy back to him. It culminates with the FA Cup Final. He wants that winners medal and if he has to break his knee again to do it, he will.
My memories of the FA Cup Final are vivid. I watched it on Television and even there the atmosphere was electric. I can only imagine what it’s like to be there live.
When I created my Wembley Final, I wanted it to be chock full of all the traditions. I wanted the pregame on television, interviews with players, that moment where the players came out an hour before kick off to check out the Wembley pitch. I wanted the little old man to come out and lead the crowd in “Abide With Me.” Unfortunately a lot of that had to go by the way side, because it made the script far too long, but I did keep some. I have a shot of the old Wembley stadium and it’s giant towers, which were always so magnificent to look at. The most important tradition was that crowd. I kept the battle before the match, so when the clubs walk out the tunnel, they are made to feel like they are the honored guests. There was one last thing I needed for my Final. The match had to be epic.
Sheffield United, the Protagonist team must come from behind. By half time they are two goals down to Sheffield Wednesday and all seems hopeless. When young Midfield starlet Peter Broadley gives up and tells his club wait till next season, Seamus blows his gasket. He packs his kit bag and tells Broadley to go home. Seamus has not given up and in a half time speech that would have made Jimmy Blanchflower proud, he invokes the name Alan Ball, his favorite player. He explains that Alan Ball ran all day. He fought for every ball he won and won back every ball he lost. Seamus explains Alan Ball pulled England up by the bootstraps and won them the 1966 World Cup. He tells his teammates they are not playing like him. He then reminds them who they are and what they can do out on the pitch.
What happens next is Mick starts the United chant. His fellow teammates suddenly believe that a two goal deficit is not so daunting after all. Every play chants United out of the dressing room, through the tunnel and out onto the pitch. Seamus takes one end of the Wembley terraces and encourages the United supporters to life their downcast heads and start a loud support. Mick goes one better, he jumps the famed bannister and hops into the crowd and high fives fans and makes them believe. Soon the whole club has taken all four corners of the stadium. Wembley is suddenly louder than it’s ever been. The Wednesday players suddenly realize they are doomed. The sleeping giant has woken up and he’s ready for his meal. With the crowd behind them, Seamus and Mick turn the match into the resurrection of the great Stanley Matthews Final of 1953 and win the Final.
I probably had the most fun writing the match scenes. Oddly they don’t come into play until 50 pages in, but they are there and as I was writing them, I felt they had to be choreographed. I came up with how a goal was scored and what type I wanted in any given match scene. The crowd was always a big part of it. In the big Championship Match, Seamus reinjures his knee and has to come out. Sheffield United are 1 goal down and need to win. Manager, Dennis Hope has no choice, he has to put Gordon Jessup, a marginal squad player in and move his Sweeper to Wing. Mick takes the bull by the horns and demands to switch to wing. He will lead the club, because Seamus was willing to bleed for the cause, now it’s his time to play his part. Hope agrees and sends Mick out to the Wing.
Mick reorganizes United before the restart and confuses the Wednesday Defense from one end of the park to the other. At one point he is trapped and in an effort to get out of it Mick dribbles backwards and cuts back up pitch beating defenders one at a time as they come at him. Mick lays off a beautiful pass over the outstretched Goalkeeper, which his teammate Kenny Dayken scores with ease. After the equalizer, the most important crowd moment in the whole movie came into my head. Mick takes that celebration to the terraces and he asks the crowd one question. “You want to win the Championship? Let’s be having you then. Let’s win the Championship.” The crowd goes ballistic and believe they can do it. Once again Mick works his magic for goal two off a free kick that is brilliantly designed with the help of Danish player Danan Bjorgesen. Once again Mick opens the space and delivers the kill cross to Jock McAndrew, who dives and scores the header that wins the match.
With all these traditions and images, I hope what comes across the most is how beautiful this sport is with the majesty of the crowd and how that crowd is the most important aspect of the game. The crowd, the song, the dancing and the players who interact with the crowd all make Football what it is, The Beautiful game.
Today was a good writing day. I managed to get quite a bit accomplished. So far I seem to have knocked 23 pages off the script. It would have been more, but I had to add two scenes. One may not be that important and I can certainly shorten it or cut it.
I have introduced The Interpol High Command Leader, Max Frisdale into the movie. He is the exact opposite of Jack a man that Elizabeth admired and respected. (More on him in the third movie as he unravels a huge Manning family secret.) Max isa climber and will do anything to succeed even if it means stepping on a few toes. I introduced Max into the first movie after I wrote the second one, to explain some backstory, but after reading the last draft of Derby Double, I saw that I didn’t do a very good job and he became an obstacle. I have corrected the obstacle, by putting him into the movie far earlier. He now shows up around the first half hour rather than an hour and a half in. In the sequel he’s a much bigger character and he will become very prominent in the last movie in this trilogy. By putting him in the first half hour of the movie, I had a chance to develop his contentious past with Elizabeth. I got a sense the scene worked. In the scene, Elizabeth wants to be involved in whatever undercover operation that involves putting Renneville behind bars. She has no idea what the plan is, but feigns that she does and turns the tables on Max. Suddenly Max realizes he needs her for the plan to work Max is forced to pull Elizabeth out of retirement and makes her a part of the plans.
The second scene was interesting. I didn’t really have a scene where I explored the relationship between Trevor and Elizabeth. Elizabeth thinks of him as an older brother and a mentor from her days at Interpol. I thought it would be cool to have them talk about Mick and how she duped Max into putting her on the case. I got a sense that these two are close, which I really hadn’t before, even though I had put them in other scenes together.
A lot of the scenes I cut today, were necessary and didn’t really move the script along. It dragged it out. I prolonged Elizabeth’s grieving period over her Father’s death. I cut the scene where she finds out about her father’s death. I Once again I had to cut what I thought was a neat idea at the time. In the scene, Elizabeth has read her Father’s diary and gone into his computer, where she finds a lot of files on Albert Renneville, who had been embezzling money to himself through IRA connections. I thought it would be neat, if Lord Manning through the diary played a game of riddles and that is how she found out the truth. The problem with the scene was it dragged and some of it may have made sense at the time, but after re-reading it, I couldn’t figure out where I was going with it. So I dumped it and jumped to his funeral. I was going to cut the Trevor scene at the Cemetery, but I decided to utilize it to make the Max scene work. All in all this was a good day. I am getting there piece by piece. On to the next scene tomorrow. This is how Roary returns and joins forces with Interpol to help disrupt Renneville’s gun smuggling and betting schemes.
When I write a scene I don’t always have an idea on how to start. I know what the scene is going to be about, but sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes I write aspects of the scene in a notebook and that helps me start it. Other times that may not work, so I think about the scene and I look around. Where is the scene is happening and what’s going on in the background? If that doesn’t work. Get the big picture, like you would driving. The Big picture usually starts off with a question. What if? Ask yourself what if and a whole world of possibilities opens up for you.
In the sequel to Derby Double, which I called Redemption, I decided to make Mick the focal point. I wanted him to have a girlfriend, but I wasn’t sure who this woman was going to be. I set him up at The Baron’s Head pub, which became the pub for Sheffield United players. Mick and his best mate Kenny Dayken are playing darts. I decided that he becomes distracted by a girl playing Snooker. At that point I was stumped. I knew nothing about this girl. All I knew was she played Snooker and she was really good. I got my big picture, it was a pub, there was a lot of conversation going on, Mick was playing darts. Maevis the Publican’s wife was working her ass off clearing tables and serving customers. I concentrated on the Snooker. The Snooker reminded me of a ladies pool tournament I saw on ESPN. Then it came to me, and I asked, what if this woman is Britain’s lady Snooker Champion. She’s fiery and competitive. I didn’t even have a name for her. She was just some girl in a pub playing Snooker. For some reason the name Audrey stuck out in my head. When I lived in England Audrey was a common name and I always liked it. So now I had this name Audrey but no last name. What would her last name be. I couldn’t simply have Mick hit on her and try to ask her name, that seemed too cliche to me. Instead I asked, what if Mick asks Maevis. So Maevis tells him her name is Audrey Muckwith. Now the name Muckwith, should have stuck out in Mick’s head, but it didn’t. I didn’t want it to. I wanted Mick to find out who she by some strange occurrence.
Mick does end up hitting on her and she’s not having any of it. She walks out of the pub to practice for her Snooker Tournament somewhere else.
A few weeks later Audrey shows up at Sheffield United’s training ground to drop David Muckwith off. Now Mick knows who Audrey is related to and he’s a might intimidated. David Muckwith was embroiled in the match fixing scandal and he also was let go by Sheffield Wednesday and was picked up by United. During the previous season, the two nearly came to blows on the pitch numerous times. Mick isn’t exactly going to be inviting Muckwith to tea.
From this what if situation, a few things occurred, I found Mick’s love interest and I took a minor character from the first movie and expanded him into the second movie. There was something I always liked about David Muckwith. He’s was an intriguing character to me and I wanted to explore him. The more I began to explore him, the more I began to realize that this guy was a Defensive Animal. He was the type of player that you could imagine playing for Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang. When that idea came to me, I decided to mold him after Wimbledon’s Vinnie Jones, one of the most ruthless Center Halves to play the game. As hard a guy as David was I discovered that there was more than meets the eye to David Muckwith. He was a misunderstood guy. He had anxiety issues and went to therapy. His Doctor suggested he calm himself down, by working on puzzles. He was deeply loyal to his sister and his Uncle. Family was important to him.
So the next time you’re writing a scene and you’re stuck on how it should start, get that big picture and ask what if? I know by asking what if, I discovered the Muckwith’s. Two of the most fascinating brother and sister characters I’ve written.
Over the last two months I learned some valuable lessons about writing. I had been dormant on my blog and my writing. There have been various reasons, some of it was finding the passion to write. It has been dead. I felt very depressed about it. I decided to force myself through it and become a much more disciplined writer.
I have considered myself a binge writer. I can go for months at a time and write quite as much as I want. It seems effective, but it leaves me tired and takes its toll on other aspects of my life. I am now setting some parameters for myself that will help me be a more effective writing. From this process I have already started to learn some lessons. These are the Writing Lessons I have learned in the last twenty four hours.
1: Discipline yourself. I Set aside two hours in the day to write. I haven’t decided what works best. I know some people have particular times when they feel they can get the most done. I am going to explore that. My plan is to write the first two hours after my daily routine, then put the writing aside and get on with the rest of the tasks that I need to complete for the day.
REREAD YOUR WORK UNTIL YOUR BORED
2: Reread your work until you are bored with it. There’s an advantage to reading your script so much that you become bored with it. The advantage is that you become a more objective writer. It also helps you rediscover the passion.
USE AN EXERCISE TO FIND THE PASSION
3: If you’ve lost that passion use a writing exercise to rediscover your passion. To force myself to find that passion to write, I decided to reformat my scripts. They were not in the proper format and I needed to do that anyway if I ever wanted to get them published. After I reformatted my plays, I set about to reformat Derby Double. I hadn’t read this script in a long time. To my horror I discovered two drafts missing from my computer. I had a printed draft so I had to take that and put it into my computer. As I was doing that, I realized that this version of the script was fair. There were a lot of holes in the storyline and once reformatted, I discovered something absolutely horrific. It was well over 200 pages long. I’ve always considered this script to be an epic. An epic is a longer than 120 pages, but it certainly shouldn’t be five hours. Since this is part one of a trilogy I plan to write, I now know there is going to be a lot of cutting involved.
NEVER FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR BEST STUFF.
4: Never fall in love with your best stuff. Here’s an example of what I mean. I have a bad habit, I overwrite. When my juices are flowing, the ideas come at me fast and furious. I put too much into a scene. At rewrite time it becomes a chore to cut. In some cases it becomes torture, especially if I think I have written this really great bit in the scene. Here’s one of the biggest lessons I have learned about writing. Never fall in love with something you think is needed or great. It may not be. I am now in the process of going back to basics. I am going through each scene and reworking them one scene at a time. I plan on rewriting these scenes more than once, before I move onto the next. This will allow me to cut and tighten and fill in any holes in the story. Today was the first day and I found myself cutting some of Seamus O’Brien’s narrative. Some of the narrative I hated to part with, because it was beautifully written dialogue. I did the same thing with Hannah. I dropped some action I didn’t feel was needed or slowed the scene down. I went through a printed edit of the scene today and did more cutting. I found another bit between Hannah and her parents as she is giving her speech, that I loved, but it slowed the script down and I dumped it.
These most recent tips I have learned about script writing appear to be working. I have found that I have started to breathe new life into the passion I have for writing. I have discovered a new objectivity and most of all I am learning to cut. Now if I can overcome this overwriting problem, writing would be easier. I do have a solution for that and I plan on learning how to do that next.