Early December saw me back in Cardiff for the second weekend of the second year of my MA. Friday was specifically focused on the major project/treatment, looking at it from a TV series perspective. While I’m not developing a series as part of my MA, it is something I’m interested in and I’d like to develop my short script (Lacewing) into a mini-series at some stage. On Saturday we had a day-long workshop with Rebecca Gould, creative producer at Soho Theatre. Unfortunately I had to leave early due to changes in my flight time- I was very disappointed in doing so as I really enjoyed the morning and theatre is my first love. I also had a very extended tutorial with my major project tutor (2 hours!). This proved to be fruitful, problematic, exasperating, inspiring, and encouraging. All at the same time. I left with my head spinning and a million different ideas of where my story should go, as well as feeling I was losing a little of what I had wanted to keep. A few hours later I had processed it a bit and was somewhat calmer. Later still, and after a few imbibements at Porter’s, my sense was that even though I felt I had a lot of work to do, it was doable. My main concern (besides character development, dialogue, and being too literal) was changing the location of the story from the American mid-west to Ireland. Such a change to a story has a dramatic knock-on effect to all the other aspects therein. This is when my head nearly exploded; it felt like I was right back at the beginning again. Knowing that I had a deadline approaching before Christmas (and with my treatment due for 5th January) I did what any expert procrastinator would do; go on a holiday.
In fairness, I’d booked a little trip for myself ages ago as I needed a break from Dublin (and Cardiff doesn’t quite cut it at this stage!). I also find that travel and new places are usually inspirational (whether it be a positive or negative experience), at least from a writing point of view. I found myself on the 24 Tram in Prague heading out of town to DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, whose motto is: In an age when growing numbers of people tend to think dangerously alike, art’s capacity to suspend, even for a moment, our habitual ways of seeing may well prove to be of its greatest value. Fair enough. The exhibition that appealed to me most was This Place, a photo series by 12 different artists about the complexities of living in Israel. What has this got to do with my major project? Well, This Place (besides being an excellent exhibition) helped me to further realise the importance of place as opposed to location. A location is coordinates on a map. A place is everything within that location that makes it special; the buildings, the sights, the smells, the language, and most importantly, the people. This is exactly what was happening for my script. A change in location meant a change in place. It’s not just a case of picking the characters up and dropping them in a new location- the characters change based on their place and vice versa. Their language changes. How they react to situations changes. How they interact with each other changes. For me, it is imperative that the core of my story remains the same- two women, at different stages in their lives, meet and help each other overcome obstacles- so once I don’t lose that, I’m happy. In writing out a new storyline for my script (which is still very rough and will no doubt change a lot in the coming weeks) I’ve been able to overcome my fear of changing the location and let go of some of the elements that don’t fit into the new place that I’m creating for Shayla and Val (my main characters). Overall, it’s been a tough process so far and this is just the beginning of writing my feature. That said, today I’m far more content with the story and feel it is starting to take shape and make more sense. In keeping with all the changes, I’ve also had a rethink of the title, finally deciding on Grand.
Given the new place of the story, this is fitting: