I had been trying for years to find someone to collaborate with on a screenplay. After all, collaboration is what filmmaking is all about, so why not collaborate on the very writing process that gets it all started. But I always seemed to run into the same problem. I would be more interested in the idea than the other writer and they would soon drop out, leaving me to finish the screenplay by myself. That all changed when I saw a post on Stage32 by J.G. Blodgett titled “Collaboration”. The idea was simple, but brilliant: a script written about a man having five different conversations in a coffee shop, and each conversation being written by five different people, all leading up to a mysterious ending unbeknownst even to our head writer. I volunteered and the rest is history!
Oh . . . you want the rest of the story? Okay, so after some back and forth communication with J.G. and other interested writers, we had our first Skype meeting to discuss the project. It was a very interesting meeting — to say the least — and somehow we even got around to discussing shooting the film in Australia with Kevin Spacey in the lead. Needless to say, we decided to go in a different direction (though the door is still open, Mr. Spacey).
After that, J.G. and I worked closely on the development of the script. Taking his very helpful notes, I wrote two scenes where the main character, Paul, meets a streetwise young male and then an abrasive critical male. By this time, we had recruited a third writer, Shelly Paino. Shelly took two scenes, one with an intellectual and flirtatious woman and one with a spiritual gentleman who enjoys chess. J.G. would handle the wraparound story and Paul’s scenes with a waitress, April and her curious kid, Sky at the coffeeshop.
The actual writing process ended up taking two years, due to various other commitments, and if I am telling the truth, I was concerned it would be like many other collaborations I’ve been involved with in the past. But, we all stuck with it, and came up with something really cool! For my own part, I would say the biggest challenges were writing scenes with characters created by another writer, and then trying to build up to a conclusion that, until we finished the script, we weren’t sure what it would be. After I sent my drafts in, and Shelly submitted hers, J.G. found his inspiration and crafted an ending that none of us expected — himself included. He sent Shelly and I the first draft and it was time for revisions. J.G. Shelly made their own revisions, I made mine, and the final script ended up being more cohesive and fascinating than I could have dreamed. It was very clearly the work of different writers, yet everything worked towards the inevitable conclusion.
While we put the finishing touches to the script, we’re already looking forward to securing funding, via the crowdfunding route, producing and marketing the movie. This has been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see the finished movie and have everyone’s hard work realized. If you ever have the opportunity to collaborate on a unique project like this, go for it!