We handed in our first official draft of our feature film scripts yesterday. It was such a relief. After our feedback session nearly two months ago I have been ruminating about how to expand my story away from the intimate two hander it began as on stage. Up until very recently I was pretty stuck. But then, with the help of class mates and the classic cinema sessions, I started thinking about secondary characters and how they could be brought in more to create chaos for my two protagonists. The result is that I have far more actin and far less dialogue which is an exciting development. I have finally allowed the themes I want to explore to be navigated through activity rather than discussion (well there is still quite a lot of talking.) Now the scripts go to an entirely new mentor for feedback. This is a really crucial moment as we have an industry professional read our script cold and give us their feedback. They don’t have any information about our story, so it is an amazing opportunity to get a brutally honest sense of what works, what is unclear and whether our story is at all interesting. In our last classic cinema workshop yesterday we watched Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. This film often has a reputation for corniness, bolstered by the fact it is always shown at Christmas. But rewatching it, I was struck by how powerful, moving, complex and modern it is. Jimmy Stewart’s performance is starting, he conveys such a rich range of emotion by doing very little. And the way Capra balances the bleak tale of his embitterment, with moments of heart felt love and warmth, allows us to stay rooting for Stewart’s character even when he is becoming more and more unpleasant. We were asked to consider how Capra orchestrates it so that the stakes always rise for Stewart throughout the film. Do we create adequate pressure in our own films? I have been thinking about this a lot, as I am writing a film that occurs over one day, does enough happen? I have been trying to be very methodical about building tension. But often I have to stop myself giving my protagonists a too easy ride. It is as though I love them too much and want them to get to the end point all in one piece, but this doesn’t make good drama. Capra takes the best and brightest man, the most loveable Jimmy Stewart, and allows one bad event after another turn him into a mean and bitter man. That is brave and bold writing. I send my characters to a student night in Nunhead, will that cut it?