Is The End In Sight?
Okay, I'm getting very close to completing the script. I've spent most of the whole day today finalising my thoughts and ideas and writing the romantic bits. They're not that romantic, but to be honest, I'm happy enough if I can write something that remotely works, and this one remotely works. In fact, thinking about it, there are faint parallels with the Titanic love story – parallels that have nothing to do with content but underlying structure. So that's basically 20 pages done.
Now comes the next difficult bit … and I really cannot afford to spend another two months to figure this one out.
The final act and the resolution.
The final act I can figure out stuff to include – what I'm worried about is that the audience will very quickly find it unengaging. The problem is the first place is that the story I'm writing flies against the face of conventional script plotting. My protagonist is a passive character – meaning he doesn't move things, things move him, or things try to move him and he doesn't. There is a hero's journey here – but that journey is never obvious. Random stuff happen – all the time, from the beginning of the script to the end; whereas in a 'real film' you need to have a certain linkage between events, a recognisable chain starting from the beginning of the story to the end.
And all those problems are much more acute in the final act, when all I have to show for the audience are the uncomfortable scenes. Those uncomfortable scenes are necessary, in the sense that it is partly what I'm making the film for – to allow the audience to experience frustration and boredom. However, in a 'real film', really, either I must find a way to make frustration and boredom appealing, or yank it out of the movie. And I can't figure out a way to make it appealing.
The worst part – the ending. I actually already have an ending in mind for the last two years – it was one of the first scenes I thought of when beginning to think about a film that tells of a guy who lives different lives each day. Problem is, looking at the ending now, it seems very much an example deus ex machina. The thing about great endings are that, they should always be inherent in the story. Even though it is mostly surprising when presented to the audience, it should nevertheless be plausible – for example, the seeds of the ending should be present throughout the story. Take T2. How do you kill the T-1000? Almost all of the audience would be thinking that question at the end of the movie, when no matter what Arnie does the bloody guy just keeps reassembling. When finally the T-1000 gets thrown into the lava pool, the answer was like, so obvious. It's logical. And – this is the key – potentially, the audience could have thought of that earlier on. (It doesn't matter that it's so coincidental that they end up in an industrial plant with a lava pool, because emotionally the audience is so engrossed in the film that any way to destroy the villain ingeniously and save the characters is welcome.)
So, to come up with the perfect ending – and I keep feeling at the back of my mind that it can't be that far away, that it's barely visible, such that it almost seems like it didn't exist, but it's there – I would need to have dump this one. But then I'm too stuck with this particular idea.
On the other hand, even James Cameron made a mistake and wrote an inappropriate ending for Titanic, which can be seen as an alternate ending in the new 4-DVD release of the film. According to Cameron, the ending works on its own (though I don't think so, but then I didn't write the film so I wasn't thinking in the same terms he was as a writer) – but within the context of the ending of the film it just didn't work, hence the version we currently see now, which works a whole lot better.
I guess, the point is, I can always come up with an ingenious, non-deus ex machina ending. But then that is just plain lazy. But then I don't have time. I'm already three weeks behind schedule.