The "final" draft of my screenplay is due tomorrow. I say "final" because it's really just the draft I'm being assessed on. With seven weeks to go until my shoot, I'll still be re-drafting for at least a few more weeks yet.
I churned out another draft last week—draft 3. Like the one before it, I mulled for several weeks and then wrote it quickly (in a day or two).
I finished draft 3 at 2am on Thursday morning then sat down with my supervisor at 10am to receive her feedback. She confirmed what I felt: that structurally the script is now sitting in a pretty strong place and I've (hopefully) passed the point of needing major re-writes. This was the draft in which I really found the protagonist's voice and her intentions, but that realisation came about half-way through.
So draft 4 will be about seeding earlier character moments and making sure that story progression is clear. It's hard, on a piece that's as character driven as this, to always hit those beats with exactly the right notes... but I feel like it's getting there.
Then I sent the script wider, to some of my usual feedback go-to's and some newer ones. I was keen to see how the script would read to people with far less exposure to it than those that have been reading it so far. Two friends hadn't read it, but I'd spoken to them extensively about the themes and ideas behind the film. One friend I'd barely talked to about it at all. And then some of my other usual people read it.
So I introduced a lot of new voices into my feedback pool over the weekend. And while the feedback was generally quite positive, it made me want to shrink and hide.
Because I like more time between drafts. Because the opinions are beginning to vary. Because it's getting to the pointy end of things.
Because I know it's a film that will divide people, and I'm starting to see that already. I think it's probably a good thing that the feedback I received was so varied—it means that there are no glaring issues, no gaping holes. But it also requires a much lighter, more nuanced touch. Because some things that are clear for one, are obscure for another. Because some things that are loved by one, are loathed by another.
So this is where I need to think very hard about what I'm trying to say, how I say it and who exactly I am saying it for.
My initial reaction, as I mentioned, was to shrink and hide—take a few days away from it and let my subconscious do the work for me. But tomorrow's deadline means that's not an option.
So, instead, I'm trying to take a different approach. I'm trying to see this tangled web of overlapping and contradictory feedback as a blessing, as an opportunity to go much deeper and examine every moment.