Production Realities and Story Changes

Rewrite

From my production folder:

The original idea for The Fourth concerned Anna, a psychic girl in captivity in a dystopian future and the mission to rescue her. Roughly two-thirds of the story was about two characters in a room, whilst the remainder was about Anna’s rescuers. As the idea developed I realised that in order to be a strong character Anna would need to rescue herself, and so wrote a draft where her assistance came in the form of psychic ghosts which pushed her to evolve into a new being.

Having multiple ghosts presented the issue of having too many characters and so I simplified the transformational process to an interior psychological journey that Anna undertook, confronting her spiritual self and echoing Jungian theory of the collective unconscious. Once I had this anchor for the story I was able to build Anna’s journey from innocent to soldier. However this expanded the production beyond two characters in a room into a bigger world, and moved me away from my aim of using sound and limited production techniques to create a story landscape and into the much broader focus of production logistics.

Given the immoveable deadline, this larger scale of production would require a trade-off in post-production time and so I elected to make the film solely about two characters in a room, making Anna’s journey take place in the eyes of the audience only and subsequently making the story beats those of a more typical short film. Both Anna and Ford, her captor, became more pointed characters as Ford moved away from being a stereotypical evil scientist to someone more resembling an SS agent, and I finally decided beyond all doubt that Anna was responsible for the attack on London.

At this point I started to wonder about the genders of the characters, a thought confirmed when the actress I’d originally approached to play Anna asked the same question. I wrote the sixth complete draft of the script with Anna becoming Aaron, and Ford becoming a female officer, and from that the characters developed a much sharper edge and clarity.

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