WRITING A SHORT FILM: BLOSSOM
As a testament to my undergraduate studies, I wrote the script for Blossom, my senior capstone film. Blossom is 18 minutes long, but it was three years in the making. We’re now a year after the premiere, so I wanted to reflect back on this process in a new way – with a journey map. After creating this journey map, I have realized that writing is not straight and simple for anyone. But those good drafts and bad drafts helped me eventually gain the confidence and pride that I have for this little film. I had to go back to emails and drafts and reflect on how I felt during this process. But next time I write, I will keep track of my feelings and the process because creating this journey map allowed me to see what parts of my writing I was working on and see how much I have progressed both as a writer and how I feel about my work.
But this little film got its spark before I even got to college.
When I was in high school, I took my first ever film class that sparked my aspirations to pursue storytelling as a career. My teacher always told me “write what you know.” I carried that lesson through my college career and even took it a little too seriously sometimes, choosing to create my projects about the mundane things in my daily life.
When I took screenwriting at Quinnipiac, I wrote a short based on a story my high school film teacher told me about his mysterious neighbor.
My professor helped me develop my characters and the story based on the tale, which helped greatly for someone like me who had never written a real short film before. But sometimes from that development, I felt like I wasn’t writing anything that I knew anymore. It was so different from where I started and it was far from perfect. But I was proud of it because I had grown as a writer and understood the art of short storytelling better.
To my surprise, that very script was chosen to be in the pool for senior capstone productions.
I ended up in a group that already had all the major roles filled. But I wanted to have a bigger part that I could invest myself into instead of only sound, which was not my forte. I wanted to use my script. Convincing my group to use my script was no easy task since they all had their own ideas, but they saw its potential and I made a convincing argument. Untitled Alicia it was.
Developing the script further for my group was difficult because everyone wanted to write what they knew, or what they loved. Some wanted a western feel, others wanted horror. It was a short-film’s identity crisis. I wanted to please everyone, no matter how different their ideas were. So, I ended up with a rushed draft that was nothing like the original plot and was just plain bad writing. I went against everything I knew and, because of this, I learned my lesson the hard way.
My creative pit was table-reading that version of the script for all of the other production groups and my professors/mentors.
It was the most embarrassing, and painful moment of my educational and professional career thus far. I knew that it wasn’t my best work and the turmoil behind it, but sometimes you just have to hear it out loud. And I always want to be better. I sat down with my mentors and had them go through the original script with me once again. There was something there that made my group excited initially, and I wanted to bring it back to life. Eventually, we did, as a group. A year later, we are still very proud of our little award-winning film.
I learned that maybe “write what you know” isn’t always about writing your own experiences into your work.
Maybe it’s more about staying true to the story that you’re telling. Maybe it’s about sticking to your creative gut. Working on teams is difficult when people are not on the same page. But it’s important to take criticism, feedback, and ideas with due diligence. We must learn that implementing every single piece of those ideas can make you lose sight of the story you are trying to tell. Although I sometimes feel like I could erase that horrible table read draft from existence, I know that it, in turn, taught me a lesson and made me a better storyteller. And I carry that forward.
VIEW THE FILM
Leah, a 16-year-old girl must spend weekends with her father, Pete, whom she has a broken relationship with. While Leah begins to believe that their next door neighbor, Rose, is a serial killer, Pete tries to win over his daughter’s affection by helping her investigate.