On writing White Awake

“The first draft of anything is shit.”
Ernest Hemingway

Writing is hard. Really hard. One day you get the bright idea that you’re going to make a film and you’re eager and ready to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. So you sit down in front of your computer, caffeinated up, a full eight hours sleep, ready to belt out something that will resonate with an audience.

Then there’s a blank as fear sets in. Why did I want to do this again? What have I got to say? Why will people care?
But any reaction is good,
you think. Even if they hate it. Indifference is the killer.

So you type and type, anything to make you feel important and dispel any feeling that you’re not completely procrastinating. Mr Self Doubt rears his head, but you don’t care. You push on and hope that some of the words you throw at the wall might stick.


This has been my mind-set from day one during the writing of White Awake. It hasn’t been an easy experience, I’ll admit, but I believe that’s because a) I’m inexperienced in writing, and b) I want people to empathise with the characters even though the film is short.

I think the script has finally reached a state where we collectively believe it has potential. One of the only ways to know this, of course, is to go back and reread the first draft that you tucked away in a drawer for a few months and see how you feel. I had these feelings on my first draft: directionless, amateur, pretentious, self-indulgent. That’s it, time to rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite, and …

The other way to know whether your script is shootable (not “final”) is to get involved with actors. The first big help for me when writing was when I contacted Hainsley Lloyd Bennett stating that I wanted him to be the lead of White Awake. Hainsley was extremely helpful in helping me better understand subtext which I understood to a degree, but hearing it voiced from an actor reiterated the point. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of writing dialogue that voices exactly what the character is thinking or feeling, or that is expository in nature. Neither of these things make for compelling character or are, in fact, how people really talk. There’s also the fact that people are often contradictory and say one thing and do another. I’ve tried to keep in mind that the drama of a situation is often a result of what isn’t said.

So we’re not far from launching our Kickstarter campaign for the film and one thing’s for certain: we’re excited and scared. To directly lift some of the text from our Kickstarter:

In today’s world of media overload, it’s difficult to capture people’s attention, but we hope that our passion and focus on story and character might allow us to stand out from the crowd.

Here goes.