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08/22/2008: Intestinal Fortitude
I'm up in Vancouver, in pre-production mode for the Battlestar Galactica TV movie. Loads of fun, and it's going to be amazing, I promise.
I just did a rewrite pass in which I cut twenty-four pages of script (from 113 to 89 pages total). It's incredible what you can do when you have to. Now, if you have to cut nine or ten pages from a two-hour script, you can probably do it with trims. Lose some scenes that can be moved off-screen, trim the fat off the ones that remain, and you can probably get there. But if you are in serious length trouble, and especially if you've already trimmed to the bone, you have to look at story. The trick here is to be open-minded. The things that get cut may include a part of a story that you think is absolutely necessary. It's okay. Put it all on the table.
Your neatest option is of course to cut a whole story. Got a secondary or tertiary story? Can you lose it? The problem with this option, of course, is that these stories often provide balance and contrast with your main story. Also, having something to cut away to is often crucial, absolutely crucial, to the A-story.
The more likely correct solution is to simplify a story, probably your A story. Think of it as removing a length of diseased colon. You sew the loose ends together after the bad bit's gone and it all functions as if it was designed that way. The hard part is in identifying the part that needs to come out because you've been thinking of it as an absolutely vital part of your system for so long, it's hard to see that you don't need it. Get advice from others and take it seriously. Or simply challenge yourself to justify every step of your story and genuinely imagine how it would work without it.
The amazing thing is, after the script-surgery, even you will start forgetting it ever was arranged any other way.
Lunch: sunomono, gyoza and pumpkin cutlets