I Have Finally Finished The Screenplay. It’s A Screenplay And I Wrote It. It Is Finished.

29 Jun

Fireworks

And so… I have finally finished the screenplay for what is to be my next film – Aventura.

I will explain why this is such a momentous occasion.

First of all, it is the first feature screenplay I have completed since my previous film – Nocturniathe final draft of which was actually completed in 2003.

Oh, I have treatments and “scriptments” and half-finished works lying around but Aventura marks the first one I have brought to the FINAL FADE, as they say, in a fucking DECADE.

10Years

There are boring reasons for this. Writer’s block, other projects, branching out of my interests, loss of interest… Plus a marriage that came and went in a heartbeat, but took 4 unproductive years out of my life.

But none of that matters. Suffice to say, as David Patrick Kelly so acutely stated in 48 HRS, “I was busy.”

Kelly48HRS

 But now I have completed Aventura. And there it is. It’s also a momentous occasion because it shows me coming full circle as a writer.

pretentious

I’ll explain what that means exactly before I come off as a lot more self-important than I actually am.

The first screenplay I ever wrote was an action/adventure called La Cumbre del Peligro, which translates as: The Summit of Danger. I wrote this in 1995, at the age of 17. It was the simple story of a group of Bolivian high schoolers, on a weekend trip, who get stranded in the Andes and are pursued by vicious gangsters.

Basically, I was merging El Mariachi with Cliffhanger. The idea was to get the movie made with a bunch of friends, shoot it on video (Betacam no less) and just get it out there however I could.

JustDoIt

I’ll make no bones about this. The script was a piece of shit.

I know because I wrote it. I have a right to say these things about my own work.

Oh, I certainly didn’t think so back then. I was very proud of myself. I had followed the rules of Screenwriting 101 to the letter, delivering a properly structured 100-page screenplay, with clearly defined act breaks, heroes, villains and an arc. Had fortune smiled upon me back then, maybe I could have actually made the fucking thing. It would have existed. You might have seen it and said to yourself: “Yeah, that little Bolivian action movie I saw on Telemundo was okay.”

GoldStar

But that didn’t happen.

What did happen is unimportant, but my life went in another direction and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I even bothered revisiting that script.

Now working with Pachamama Films, I was becoming impressed with their business model of making classy, efficient films with genre elements, yet doing them cheaply and professionally, with a terrific team of people.

I wanted to play too.

I was working on what I thought would be the follow up to Nocturnia. I wanted to do a dramatic piece that took advantage of La Paz and its wealth of interesting urban locations, while observing social realities.

pretentious

But I was having trouble really cracking the story. And I was getting antsy about just getting out there and making a film.

So I figured, why not do what these guys do? Why not come up with something simple and clean, and effective, that I can probably just throw together in a few weeks? Why not do a “Classy Corman”?

And, haven’t I already written the fucker already?

That’s when I dug up the screenplay for La Cumbre del Peligro. Maybe I could resurrect it. Surely it would need a little polish. Some paint here and there, some updating of the cultural references no longer as relevant as they would have been in the mid 90s… Stuff like that. Should be easy. And now, with the advances in HD video filmmaking and so on, I could make it. Just like I wanted to back in ’95. Yeah… Let this be the “interlude” I have in between Nocturnia and that VERY IMPORTANT movie I wanted to make as my follow up. This will be fun.

Uh-oh

 

Well… I read about 10 or 12 pages of La Cumbre del Peligro, a screenplay by Erix Antoine – Draft 3 – July, 1995; and decided it was “a complete piece of shit” (my actual words, that’s why it’s in quotes, bold and italic text) and there was no way in hell I would ever make a film out of that screenplay.

It was a pop culture-laden, derivative, juvenile pile of garbage written by an eager 18-year-old fresh out of high school wanting to impress everyone with his skills as a writer of genre fiction.

I hated it.

I hated how there had to be references to current pop tropes on every page. I hated how every other line out of a character’s mouth had to be smart-ass dialog or a quip. I hated the structure I had employed; where the plot splits at one point and then keeps folding back in on itself, coming together at the end.

tarantino

I hated it.

But the idea of people in danger in the Andes mountains was appealing and straight-forward and still lent itself to something.

It wasn’t a total loss, in other words.

And that’s what begat Aventura.

AtLast

 

I took that concept of people in the Andes (but they were no loner high schoolers because I was no longer an eager screenwriter fresh out of high school) and the only thing I kept was the setting and the basic premise of being stranded. I took that and spun it off in a completely different direction, which meant writing a completely different script. I couldn’t just polish La Cumbre del Peligro. I would have to start from scratch.

And, in my infinite wisdom, I began to complicate matters by adding other details to the premise and characters… etc. So… The “quick little B movie” I was supposed to do as an appetizer while I figured out how to crack the story for the “real” follow-up to Nocturnia became, effectively, the actual follow-up to Nocturnia. My real next project and the next step in my evolution as a filmmaker.

pretentious

I made the characters more complex (so to speak, I mean…this still isn’t Chekhov) and added layers to the story. Tried to give it some subtext… Tried to make it about something. And, of course, I kept second guessing myself. “Maybe it should be about this.” “Maybe it should be about that.” “What am I trying to say?” … “Wait… That doesn’t make any sense! Why would they do that? They should just do this!” … And so on.

And it took a couple of years to finish because of that.

But I got it done.

Come hell or high water, I nailed the fucker.

And there it is.

GoldStar

It’s an action/adventure thriller set in the Andes, it has an eclectic ensemble cast of characters. It runs 133 pages. It’s no longer El Mariachi meets Cliffhanger. It’s… Well… Let’s just say it’s something…else.

 shhh

And it’s not a complete piece of shit.

I know because I wrote it. I have a right to say these things about my own work.

That’s not to say there aren’t issues here and there. Nobody’s perfect. But it’s as good as I can get it to be right now and I’m very proud of it. I can’t wait to start production on this fucker and you can be sure I will keep you all posted.

But that’s all I am going to say about Aventura for the time being.

Don’t worry, though… This story doesn’t end here.

Stay tuned.

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