The First Draft
For being such a collaborative art form, it’s a bit surprising that almost all good filmmaking starts with a writer, usually working alone, banging out a script. In the worlds of documentary and feature film the first steps in the creative process usually isn’t even a script – it’s an outline or a treatment. For many writers the alchemy lies in the grey spaces between research, imagination and good old-fashioned work ethic.
“The alchemy lies in the grey spaces between research, imagination and good old-fashioned work ethic.”
While this process of writing is often a lonely endeavor, it’s also the stage in the process with the most built-in freedom. In fact, limiting oneself to writing only what you’re sure is possible is a recipe for disaster. The best work often comes when you let the stories and the ideas take flight without regard for how something will work in the real world. Those are problems for another day.
In the case of the Handel Documentary, the questions that are driving the script treatment this fall are ones of scope. How is it possible that they’re still performing the Messiah in Rio? Who’s actually making up the choir? Who are they performing for? Are the performances grand or modest in scale? And most importantly – why go do the effort, especially for an oratory over 275 years old written by a German living in London?
“It’s the stories, the communities, the relationships and the legacies that will form the heart of this documentary.”
Ultimately, what’s becoming increasingly clear is that it’s the stories, the communities, the relationships and the legacies that will for the heart of this documentary. There’s so much more to learn, to discovery, to experience, and if we can capture just glimpses of the heart behind these question we could create something very special. At least, that’s the plan.