Yesterday I ended my post with a quotation from Wikipedia on development hell, and that’s where I want to start today. There are many reasons why film (and software) projects go wrong, and they all have to do with the script.
The script is central.
When producers and directors are looking to attract talent into a project, they use the script. When producers and directors are trying to get funding for a project, they use the script.
The script is central.
It represents an embodiment of the idea that sparked it all off, the problem that needs to be solved, the market with a barn-door sized gap, the customer itch that needs to be scratched, the business plan that’s looking for funding.
And unlike the past, unlike the waterfall and cascade days that led to their development hells with inflexible scripts, the script now evolves. We iterate through scripts. We cut the script down into bite-size chunks so that everyone understands what is needed, what is happening, what each individual’s role is. This iteration process helps us visualise what is happening, what needs to happen.
It is only when the script is stable that funding can be obtained. It is only when the script is stable that the project is initiated. It is only when the script is stable that we can speak about going “into production”.
Development is about scripts. Production is about making those scripts leap off the pages and becoming alive. Post-production is about making the experience available to all.
What are sets? Nothing more than reusable infrastructures with temporary skins. The key thing is that set designers really worked on making the sets reusable.
What about stock shots? Nothing more than reusable commoditised components that add limited value, yet remain necessary. So it’s important to spend as little time and money on them as possible.
The concept of calling a “wrap” is nothing more than really understanding modular design. You’ve compartmentalised something so that it’s got high cohesion and loose coupling, you’ve iterated through that piece until everyone is cool with it, then you’ve said “Enough”. Not Perfect. But Enough. You have time in post-production to fiddle with it, this is not the time. Move on.
More in the 3rd but not final part, which I hope to write sometime later today or tomorrow. It will summarise what I consider the lessons that parallel the two sectors, in tabular form. So why will it not be final?
Because Stephen Smoliar kindly pointed out that Tom Davenport wrote some parallel thoughts down in Information Ecology in 1997, particularly in a chapter headed “As shown on TV: A new model for information staff”. I promise to find a copy, read the chapter and try and tie it all together in a fourth and final post. Can’t say when, it depends on how long it takes for me to receive the book. I could cheat and use Search Inside, but I’m not like that. I’d rather fight to change the law.
And because I want to read the book now that I’ve peeked inside :-)