Friday, December 22, 2006

Have a Pulpy, Pulpy Christmas!

So it's Friday before the long holiday weekend, and we're wrapping up a few things here and there for the clients before things shut down in LA.

I'm sitting here at the Firebrain conference table tapping away on some emails, when one of the associates here asked me...

"Why did you come up with this whole pulp screenwriting thing anyway? What's up with that?"

Oh. boy.

So I thought about it and wanted to pass this along to everyone. I started to formulate this whole "Pulp screenwriting" philosophy waay back in 1996 when I was working as an electrician (a lamp operator to some of you folk around the world) on a movie called An Occasional Hell and we were rushing like maniacs to get everything in the can before we wrapped for Christmas. It was cold, rainy and rural. The title of the show was very appropriate.

We were hustling around a local Charleston grocery store, rigging Kino-flo lamps here and there and hiding cables, so we could shoot a scene of Valeria Golino buying groceries. The Gaffer was a "screamer" and everything was late, or staged wrong or not up to snuff; and the Best Boy and I almost came to blows because I couldn't answer my radio fast enough for him while also trying to follow the Gaffers orders. It was a mess.

Later, after the scene was shooting I was flipping through my copy of the sides, reading the dialogue...

And I realized that the whole scene was really for nothing. It was "fat" in the script, and we were all freaking out over a scene that was most likely going to end up on the cutting room floor. (It didn't, but it should have). It was right then and there that I realized that I needed to get out of SC, and if I was going to have the career I wanted I needed to write...

And I needed to write scripts that were cool and didn't contain scenes that didn't need to be there. Nobody was going to give me millions (then) so I would have to have a crew that was as motivated to see this story through as I was.

In the low budget world, all you have to go on (besides craft service) is the idea that you're capturing something really cool and unique in that camera. Something that will make people notice your work. If you're a crew person and you're hustling your ass off for gas money wages, you pray that you're not shooting scenes that don't count. You pray that you're working on something that will develop your skills. You pray that the people in charge are putting everything they have into it all, because you are there putting in your all.

But if you're lighting a scene that you know sucks ass, your heart just drops. You move slower. You look at the clock more often. You know it's all a waste of time.

According to the Dictionary, Pulp is "the succulent heart of the fruit." That's what your scripts (and mine) should be - no seeds, no rhind - just the sweetest part of it all. The script you'll kill to put onto the screen, because it's soooo damn cool. The script that makes people say "Oh My Gawd!" or "I have to see this movie!"

And that, dear kids is the story of the first pulp Christmas....

6 comments:

Kid Sis said...

Cool.

Lee said...

I'm inspired - merry Christmas, Mad Pulp Bastard.

wcdixon said...

Lovely story...put me to shame.

Happy holidays and best wishes, sir.

Piers said...

Merry Christmas, you mad pulp bastard.

Here's to many decent, popular, and cheap films in the year ahead.

Moviequill said...

the only time we don't trim the fat is at Thanksgiving because gravy, man! And since this is a Christmas post, Merry Holidays

Chopped Nuts said...

Merry Mad Christmas Mr. Pulp.