Today I have some exciting news to share. I’ve got a movie deal.
“What?” you shriek.
“Yep,” I reply. “I’ve got an option with Back Alley Films to make a feature out of of Night Town.”
Back Alley is helmed by Adrienne Mitchell and Janis Lundman, two Canadian female powerhouses who throw everything they’ve got into the TV shows they produce. Programs like the award winning and darker than ebony, psycho thriller “Durham County -”
And the terrific World War II period drama “Bomb Girls.”
But make no mistake, feature films are a different animal than TV. Getting a feature made depends on horse shoes up yer butt, talent and the arrival of money. Something of a miracle when it happens in Canada.
Here are the steps I’ve been through so far. First the beat sheet. A beat sheet is an outline that should be written in very tight, highly precisioned prose. The purpose of the beat sheet is to follow all of the emotional and action beats of the main characters. They need to undulate and build, upping the stakes as the story progresses.
There also should be three plot lines.
The first plot line is the A, or main plot line. In “Night Town” it follows what happens to an adolescent girl when the unthinkable occurs and her life, which before this pivotal event was nearly ideal, is turned upside down and our girl ends up on a journey into hell.
Now you’d think that the journey into hell where she meets the devil is the A plot line. Nope. The A plot line is the relationship she has with her family which needs to be resolved, one way or another, for the story to end.
The devil is the B plot line. And the C plot line is….Hey I’m not going to tell you that because I want you to read the book. But suffice it to say, it’s terrific. Trust me.
There is also structuring the film. Most movies today follow 3 acts. There is a hook in the first act, usually near the beginning that starts the story and propels you into the first act – which usually run about 20 minutes.
This is a rule.
The second act, which is the longest in the movie, could run about 40 – 45 minutes, depending on the budget and the needs of the plot lines. And the third act, which wraps everything up, should also come in around 20. You might fiddle with this number a tad, but these rules must be followed. Because if they’re not.
“Night Town” can come in at no more than 90 minutes, because it costs so damned much money to make a feature film. Especially up here in Canada where the production costs are rarely recouped at the box office. Why is that you say?
We don’t have the big Yankee dollars for all the bells and whistles.
And we don’t have the same publicity machines hyping our product.
What a Canadian feature needs to get made is the love and the belief that you’ve got the best story in the world. You have to be 100 percent committed to it and be willing to sacrifice untold amount of time and aggro working for free.
It’s this passion that’s essential. And it’s this kind of passion that the director, Adrienne Mitchell, has got in spades. I know how lucky I am to have the opportunity to work with her and learn, no matter how it turns out.
More on the adventure of trying to get the movie off the ground while I simultaneously work with Iguana to get the book out the door, as well as forage for food!
Till next week
Crazy Woman Compelled by Need to Tell Stories.