Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Screenwriting - a Gross start

Gross means "grand" or "big" in German. Only in recent decades has it taken on other meanings.

I like to do things in a "gross" way (Germanically speaking).

I may not be 100% qualified (yet) to be an authority on screenwriting, but I am definitely qualified to share the ups & downs of the process.

I got my gross idea a year ago - exactly. In June 2008, my sister and I surprised my Mom for her birthday by 1) showing up at her door, and 2) driving her down to a favorite destination in Key West.

We made our first visit to the pirate museum. It was there that I learned about & fell in love with the lady pirates. Yes. There were real lady pirates back when Blackbeard plied his trade.

Immediately my brain went to work on the visuals. Why was there no movie about these hellcats of the sea?

The next 12 months would answer that & a zillion other questions that continually pop up.

Since then, I've been to the archives departments of the Bahamas, Jamaica, UK, Netherlands, & every city & colonial town along the Northeast Coast of the USA. In one week, I "attended" Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown - & another week took me to every library between St. Augustine & Cape Cod.

Now I know how to breeze through 300-year-old writing, which holds many challenges to any modern reader, & I've learned how to pack a computer, printer, paper & other office essentials into a carry-on size suitcase, which also holds all my clothes & toiletries. It's a skill.

Most screenplays don't require (or deserve) such dedication, but this one is special. When I get my way, there will be sequels & books & websites. So far, I've found that a lot of people are interested in this subject, but very few have ever dug far enough to find the real facts. They are elusive. But the "facts" you'll find online are definitely not reliable. Don't even bother looking them up. Misinformation is what you'll get. Wait for the movie. My movie. It'll be the most fun historical lesson you've ever had.

Until then, I'll blog about the process. I've had an adventure, including getting drunk for the first time (in the name of research!) & actually having $1,500 pirated from me by direct pirate descendants - all in one day. I was chased by modern hurricanes & floods, & a few 300-year-old fires have blocked my path several times in the quest for historical fact.

Putting the story together about fascinating, real people is a process as fascinating as the subject matter.

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