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What a difference four years can make…

Originally, as many of you know who’ve been following the development of this film, “Inside-Out, Outside-In” was supposed to be my feature film directorial debut. Instead, I got very lucky to get a different feature off the ground, Guys Reading Poems, which is currently touring the festival circuit. Now that I’m returning to a script I began writing four years ago, I see that changes are necessary. Sigh. Rewrite.

First of all, major developments in our political landscape render the original draft looking a bit outdated after only a relatively short time. For starters, the fact that gay marriage is now the law of the land will have a big impact on the gay couple in the screenplay. I’m left with the choice of updating the script or keeping it as a “period piece” that takes place….in 2012. Updating the script is smarter.

Putting the gay marriage issue aside, I also see that there are opportunities to make pragmatic adjustments to the plot. The film tackles conflicts within the media business and a few more years going through the process of making a feature film (not to mention hearing new industry gossip) empowers me to better understand a world that I now occupy as well as observe.

And then, there’s my online philosophy class. For better or worse, all this talk of existentialism and the meaning of life really got my head spinning about some of the themes in the script. I do feel that there’s symbolic content floating around the edges of the screenplay that I may skillfully make a bit more conscious with a little luck, hard work and caffeine. So I’m going to try.

My process for rewriting always includes some unspecified amount of time existing as a sponge, internalizing ideas, inspiring works of art and music (and that online philosophy class). It’s kinda like the Time Machine for Mac computers. Somewhere in the background, without being noticed, my system is working to catalogue. But one of the hardest aspects of re-writing is moving beyond an abstract phase and actually conquering the previous draft with a red pen. Basically, my soak-up-the-ether-time with this script has been going on for the last eight to eleven months. The question then becomes, how do I start squeezing that sponge into the content of the screenplay? Where to (re) start?

For some reason, I was drawn to my favorite Shakespeare play, “Romeo & Juliet.” [Yes, my pug’s name is Romeo, too]. I really just wanted to read the prologue of the play. Since it’s so good (and in the public domain), I’ll copy/paste it for you:

“Two households, both alike in dignity. (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene), From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, Whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death-marked love and the continuance of their parents’ rage, Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage— The which, if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.”

The famous balcony of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, Italy . Juliet's balcony

The famous balcony of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, Italy. Juliet’s balcony

So that got me going and I decided to write a prologue to “Inside-Out, Outside-In.” I was surprised by just how quickly I was able to get it down on paper. The first new words to “Inside-Out, Outside-In” in more than three years…and effective words, too. Maybe all the sponging worked. Satisfying.

The new prologue clearly tips its proverbial hat to “Romeo and Juliet”and I’m okay with that. If you’re writing a romantic drama, you could do worse that align yourself with the most iconic star-crossed lovers of all-time.

Who knows if I’ll be able to use it? But – as an exercise – it forced me to at least attempt to sum up the script and make it exciting for audiences on page one. It forced me to find a comparison for the film. (Now, I can be one of those Hollywood douches who says….it’s “Romeo and Juliet” meets ?????? ). It forced me to start the rewrite. Several days later, my insomnia inspired me to write an epilogue, too.

Now, it’s just a matter of the 93 pages in between.

Hunter Lee Hughes is a filmmaker and actor living and working in Los Angeles and the founder of Fatelink. His current feature film Guys Reading Poems is touring film festivals and this blog is dedicated to the process of making his second feature film, “Inside-Out, Outside-In.” If you enjoy the blog, please support our team by following us on Facebook, Twitter (@Fatelink) or Instagram (@Fatelink).