This past weekend, after some confusion, Ryan hopped on New York’s good ol’ Chinatown bus to downtown Baltimore. We met him at the rendezvous point and proceeded to Millersville. After a night discussing love and loss with computer genius and “Sheol” supporter James Flowers, we followed East West Highway into Annapolis to begin outlining the feature version of “The Sheol Express”.
Now, most everyone probably looks at writing as a relatively simple process. Break out the notebook, the moleskine, the laptop, the napkin – whatever the case may be – tap into your inner-self, and apply Three Act Structure to whatever thoughts are floating around your head. But before even this, there are a number of absolutely essential, and yet all-too-often overlooked, steps that must be taken to pave the path for a successful screenplay:
Never underestimate the power of toiletry accessories! Or of the brain’s WD-40. All of which helped us work through forty-eight hours of brainstorming in my parents’ unheated guest room. Harnessing the awesomeness of Google Wave, we banged our way through a rough outline, only to realize that, thanks to the History of Araboth (link) we wrote eons ago, “Sheol” – in its heart – wants to be a trilogy. That’s right, folks. We kicked the idea around for a while, and in an inspired frenzy of creative tag-teaming, pieced together a seven-hour epic about The Third War. Owen’s reluctant rise to leadership of the Old Regime, Rachael’s fanatical alliance with a banished warlord, and Diggory’s conniving black market empire meet on the battlefield of Araboth’s fall from grace.
We then watched the documentary “Official Rejection“, which is single-handedly responsible for eliminating our scotch whiskey reserves and reigning our dreams back into a self-contained feature… at least, for now. It’s a bad idea to go into the festival circuit with just an overly-ambitious adaptation, we decided, and after a few more hours spent revisiting the short’s themes – as well as some of the personal shit we’re both struggling with in our own lives – we came up with a workable outline for a 110-page screenplay.
It’s funny, really, to compare our notes plotting the short with our notes plotting the feature. While overlaps are evident, the new “extensions” afforded by our higher page-count are a joy. We’ll get to visit the Ivory Gate, a sort of Ellis Island, Owen’s point-of-entry into the much darker world of Sheol. We’ll explore the Bordertowns of Sheol’s less-than-civilized frontier. We’ll see Owen’s relationships mature and complicate, and we might even get to see what, exactly, lies in wait at the End of the Line. Simply put, “Sheol” has always wanted room to breathe, and now it’s getting it. These next few months will be a ride, folks, as we run with “Sheol” through post-production and into the preliminary stages of its first expansion. Stay tuned!