I’m restarting my blog and the new post is all about a short film I am screenwriter on called currently called “Cicada.” It’s a dark fantasy horror and is being directed by the fantastic Deloris Collins who has had recent festival success with a smart, funny and incredibly black comedy short called Once Upon a Time.
We’re currently trying to raise funding by crowdfunding on Indiegogo. There are some pretty incredible rewards available to contributers. Take a peek. Here you can see an excerpt of the script I wrote, learn about the producers and director and gain insight into our inspirations behind the production design. If you can help us by donating or simply sharing the page then please take a moment to do so. Every little helps and we really want to make this film a success.
I thought I’d share a short bit on how I developed the script and characters in the film…
It’s amazing how things change. Our perception of a story… and eachother.
In writing the screenplay for Cicada I realised that it developed in much the same way as the characters in the story. First of all, we have Leela- our heroine and main protagonist in the story. She begins not having a clear view of who she is, why she has the abilities she does and why it’s hard for people to understand her. In a sense, Leela is quite innocent to the darker forces at play in this world.
I liked this idea of how our perceptions of the world around us change as we grow up. The loss of innocence, the hurt inflicted by others, the reality of events you previously held in wonder. Teenage years can be some of the most challenging in a person’s life. You are going through changes both physical and mental, your friendship groups are doing the same thing and while this is happening sometimes you just don’t know where you stand. Are your closest friends actually trustworthy? The answer is yes. Until they’re not. At that point, one needs to be courageous. To stand up to the forces of darkness so to speak and to discover who you really are and what you’re made of.
As a title Cicada holds a double meaning. To cut a long story short, a Cicada stays hidden underground for seventeen years. They emerge, shed their skins and become a new creature, ready to take on the next phase of their lives. Leela is going through this process. On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she finally begins to accept that she is about to have great power and ability. She needs to shed the past and become strong.
Kate- Leela’s mother and the antagonist in our story also needs to shed her old skin but if I talk about that, it’ll ruin the story..!
The development of script can be similar. You start off with an idea. One that is great and worth writing down and over the course of development it becomes something new, refined and brilliant. You think to yourself “I have a clear plan of how this is going to turn out.” Then, as you write and the characters emerge, the process becomes more fluid and organic in it’s construction. Writing in itself demands you enter your characters’ heads and figure out; 1- What they want. 2- Why. 3- How they decide to get there. In the middle of a script, that character then has an idea that previously wasn’t on the cards. It changes the rest of the story and affects everyone around them.
Cause and effect.
In our story, each character has their own motivations. Even the minor characters. Leela learns that some of the closest and most important people in her life are willing to take her life for selfish and insidious reasons. That changes things. How do you react to that? I’m sure we’ve all been there at least one point in our lives albeit not to quite an extreme! It’s easy to give in and bend to the whim of the bad guy but ultimately you have a choice. The other choice is to stand up, be strong and fight back. The human spirit is incredibly resilient and adaptable.
I looked back over the various drafts and story ideas for Cicada and was amazed by how much the story and characters have changed. Admittedly, my first draft was highly ambitious for a zero budget short so that decided some changes that needed to be made but really it was all about character.
I always enjoy writing a strong female character. That was a constant. I liked the idea of demons and secret cults with access to magic from all over the world. These have all been done a thousand times before and it was time to mix it up. Why not add a bit of fairy-tale darkness in the vein of Neil Gaiman or Guillermo Del Toro? Or how about some John Hughes-esque teen relationship stuff while avoiding angsty Twilight cliche? After all this, it needed to feel real. Grounded. Relatable to all of us. It focuses on the characters, not the effects- although I’m sure they’ll look pretty swish too! The stylings are the sorts of things I tend to go for anyway and I’m incredibly lucky to be working with a Director who shares those influences and injected her own expertise.
The collaboration on the script has really helped to mould the screenplay in to something unique, entertaining and terrifying all at once.
And once you find your feet and make your way in to the big wide world, that’s kind of how life is really…
I really want to see this film on screen and we need some help to do that. Let’s all collaborate and help tell a story.
Until next time..!