The Writing Process
I’m now in the process of writing the screenplay of a new film; the Working Title of the film is SPA.
Ernest Hemingway once suggested: “Write drunk and edit sober…” He was talking about writing novels, not screenplays, but the rule may very well apply to the telling of every story. Screenplay writers know that their product may be obtained using several writing processes that are very different from one another and that, at the end, the logic that they will choose for writing the story will be unconsciously used by the viewers to get the story’s concepts and to gain some sort of personal experience and emotional background.
I don’t want, here, to give the full description of the process that I follow in writing this specific screenplay. I’ll just give some elements of the way I’m going with. I have to premise that I’m approaching the writing of the screenplay SPA as the first step in making a masterpiece movie; I believe that SPA can be a masterpiece, and one of the most watched feature films of next year.
On my desktop, some notes are present and a calculator is always in view, together with the pictures of some actors. No search for possible characters’ names has been done yet because, in the fist draft of the screenplay, I use the real names of the actors I picture playing the principal parts. This is why I have the pictures of the actors on my desktop; the lines to be read by the characters should not only be proper, they should also be absolutely credible when performed by a specific actor.
In other words, story and dialog should be self-generated through the fantastic situation my mind is imagining, but they have to be kept in a reality because these characters will only move and speak in ways that belong to them.
Like every writer, I like that my new script has a name; it is very helpful for me to be able to call my work-in-progress by a name, a title, even in the initial phase.
I realize that all of the above may sound confusing. It is not easy to fully penetrate what happens at this point. If I want to be in masterpiece territory, my mind cannot be limited by a simple logic or some commercial considerations. I am working in a full phantasy with passionate elements almost inexistent in reality; the masterpiece price is that big part of what is created is generated by the situation that the mind establishes every day, during the writing process. I know little about the story now, I just have some elements that can change in the process, this is the reason why the file can only have a Working Title, a temporary, a possible title that can be changed if the process will reveal major importance in other aspects of the story.
I choose SPA as Working Title for this film because one of the principal locations of several scenes will be the Spa connected with a gym at a Greek resort. I didn’t think to the dual meaning that the word SPA may have in today’s America. When I think to a Spa I think (it is all I know) to a very fancy and sophisticated place that can be found close to high class gyms and/or in most Five-Star Hotels. I refer to a place where women and men can have massages, make-up and other similar services, often related to water.
The Recent Murders at Atlanta “Spa”
As a matter of fact, the term Spa comes from latin: Sanus Per Aquam (Latin: health through water), and it is commonly claimed that the word is an acronym of various Latin phrases, such as salus per aquam or sanitas per aquam, meaning “health through water”.
Recently, watching on TV the story of a sex maniac who killed a number of women in several Massage Parlors in Atlanta, I was very unpleasantly surprised to discover that in USA many Massage Parlors use the acronym SPA in the legal name of their business so that sometimes these places, that host cheap prostitution, are called just Spa.
I like to state that similar places have nothing to do with the screenplay I am writing; there will be some scenes in the film that will be located in a particular Massage Parlor. That place, both in the screenplay and in the film, will be called Massage Parlor, nothing to do with SPA.
Maybe, when the screenplay will be completed, the title will change; it’s too soon to know this for certain. It happens a lot of times, this is why the initial title is called Working Title. The murders and the dual meaning of the word will probably be a principal cause for the change, together with other considerations of artistic and commercial nature.