It struck me today just how odd this industry is. For filmmakers like myself, our life revolves around stories- intangible thoughts that invoke feelings in those that listen or view them. Often times when a director is asked why it’s taking so long for the new Indiana Jones movie to go into production, he replies, “We’re working on the story”.
As I’m sure many of you are aware, most movies aren’t just made up on the spot. They’re based on a script, which is simply a document that states everything that happens and and everything that is said. It goes without saying that there’s a lot involved to take a movie from script to screen, but few realize that the process to get that good script can be just as much work, if not more. What follows is the story behind the story of getting to the third draft of a script for “Leap: Revelation” (I’m on draft three now, and need about five more before it’s production worthy).
Once upon a time I woke up one morning with an idea for a movie. This movie would combine parkour and the end times together and would be told from a personal, rather than political point of view. That’s all I knew at that point. I had been studying the end of days myself at that time, and what I was learning wasn’t what is being taught in most churches. That controversy would be my hook. The first thing I did was make a list of issues I wanted to address. This list would grow over time. I started mapping out a story outline in Microsoft Word that began in present times and would take the viewer to the second coming of Christ. I soon realized that the film was getting way to big, so much like George Lucas and Star Wars, I took the first act and said, I’ll make the movie about this.
To actually write the script, I would lay on my couch with a movie on and my laptop on my thigh. Day after day, night after night, for three months I did this until the first draft was completed. As I wrote, there were certain things that I knew would happen in the other two films that would relate back to this first one. I knew Crystal didn’t pull the trigger, and I knew that eventually the group would be living off of manna from Heaven, so I planted that seed too. Getting this first draft out is always the hardest and it’s usually pretty rough since it’s just getting the basics down on paper. I began to cast the film and met Alex Bonds who would go on to play Shane. Alex took the script and brought a lot of ideas to the character. About seven drafts later, we shot the “Leap” in the summer of 2009.
While I posting the film (editing, sound effects, color grading) I would take breaks and start to work on the outline for the second act, “Leap: Rise of the Beast” with a buddy of mine, Chris Trechter. We mapped out most of that story over a few all night brainstorming sessions. I had things I wanted to say in the film were still on my last (which I had added to) and this served as our foundation. Just like before, I wrote the first draft over a three month period, laying on my couch listening to movies. That’s one of the reasons why a lot of movie quotes end up in my films. I gave the first draft to Alex, and seven versions later we shot it from August thru December 2010.
After ROTB, the initial plan was to do something else. I knew Leap 3 would end with the second coming and that it would be very CGI heavy, so Alex and I decided to do another film first. It took me eight months working off and on to write “Derek”, a supernatural, biblically accurate, thriller about demon possession. When that script was done and I began to move into pre-production, people kept asking me about Leap 3. Hardly anyone wanted to see Derek yet. Everyone wanted to know what happens to the Leap Crew.
So, two months ago I pulled out my file for the Leap Trilogy. I still had a lot of items on my list that needed to be addressed, and this was my last chance to do it. Since I’d been thinking of this film for three years by this point, I held off on writing and outline and just started writing the script. A month later I had finished the first draft. And I sent it out. Due to the nature of my beliefs, and thus the beliefs expressed in the film, it is pretty controversial. If Rise of the Beast went after the Vatican, this one basically goes after everyone else. BUT, my goal is to make people think and study. I laid out scriptures and historical facts and I would encourage anyone that reads the script or sees the film to check them out. There’s a lot of research in these films, And in all honesty, the time involved researching and writing the scripts is probably equal to or greater than the time I’ll spend in post on this one.
I’m currently on the third draft. The script has grown from 70 to 95 pages and the plan is to hopefully shoot in September, but if not, then we’ll go for next spring 🙂
Looking at the picture below, that’s the big secret kids. Almost every movie you’ve seen started life in a word processing program for writing scripts. I still find it almost magical taking the thoughts from my head, putting them on paper, and bringing that paper to life. That is why I became a filmmaker.