Day three of rewriting. The script is now full of red ink. Dialogue has been crossed out, new lines have been scribbled in the margins. Not to mention a lot of doodling.
I forgot to mention in my last blog (about the joys of rewriting) that the process is much more joyous if someone is paying you.
That is not the case here.
It took me about two days to go through the entire script, incorporating notes and trying out ideas. There was no way I was ready to jump onto my laptop and start changing stuff "for real." And now that I made it to the very last line of the script, I'm feeling a bit... ambivalent. The script's not bad, it might even be good, but I can't help but feel something major is missing that could take it to another level. All of the pieces are there, but it's just not deep enough. Not smart enough. Sure, it's fairly entertaining, but it lacks... consequence. It lacks something of substance. Because shouldn't it be a goal of any storyteller to create something that lives on and doesn't just disappear like a bit of inconsequential narrative fluff?
Maybe that's part of the problem with comedies. It's hard to feel like they are important because they rarely are. Most get a few laughs, make a bunch of money for some semi-talented star from "Saturday Night Live", and then are forgotten. Others live on as classics, the kind of movie that you quote for years afterwards and never get tired of watching on cable. You know the movies I'm referring to.
It's not enough for a movie to be clever. For it to last, it has to tap into some deeper meanings, deeper truths. It has to have what they often call "heart." That's what makes comedies like "Groundhog Day" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" special, for example. They could have been run of the mill comedies about a few funny guys in crazy situations, but they weren't. They made us care about the characters and maybe even reminded us about what was important in ourselves.
That is not an easy thing to do. As screenwriters everywhere, myself included, realize every day. It's not something that can just be manufactured like a joke. It has to be felt somewhere in the writer and delivered to the audience through the characters.
That's not happening yet in my script. Hopefully I'll figure it out soon.