Safari Picture Update #4
As of Friday, I have turned in the animal character bios. What I did for these, basically, was research seven different animals, learn as much as I could about them, and then write up in paragraph form a description of what these animals' lives are really like. What do they do during the day, and what at night? What do they eat? How do they kill or acquire their food? What are their mating habits? What kind of social structure? Etc.
For each of them, I tried to come up with one to two sentences that summed up the overall character of these creatures. So for example, in addressing the lion, I mentioned that it has earned the moniker "King of the Jungle" (or in our case, savanna), but explained that the title applies due to more than just the lion's place at the top of the African food chain. It also has to do with the lion's attitude, mannerisms and social habits.
By doing this, I aimed to not just list a bunch of facts about these creatures, but also to open a window onto their species' personalities. The animals I covered are those that are known as the Big Five -- lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros -- as well as the hyena and hippopotamus.
To give an idea about how detailed these sketches were, my initial treatment, which included character bios for 8 characters and a detailed outline of plot, came in at 16 1/3 pages. The second draft was just over 17 pages. This document with animal character descriptions for seven animal species came in at 19 1/2 pages! So, if any of you need to know anything about any of those seven animals, let me know. I'm no expert, but I certainly know a lot more than I ever did before!
Additionally, in doing the research I read a fascinating article that supplied me with something that I think I can use as a good spine to tie the various animal-human encounters together. It would mean a slight shift to the story from what I had originally outlined, but I think it will be worth it, and tie things together nicely and cohesively. So I emailed a brief sketch of that to the producers as well, for them to look over and think about. So now they have the animal bios and a brief proposal on how I want to "connect the dots" from the previous treatment draft.
Which brings me to the other point to update. After much logistical wrangling, the producers were finally able to work out a tentative schedule for my trip to Africa. But it is also a rather expensive trip, more so than they had originally expected. So they really want to make sure they like the way things are standing with the treatment, etc, before they finalize booking. So I'm hoping that they like the work I've done here, and if so, we can set everything in place.
But if all goes according to the current tentative plan, I will be gone from L.A. for almost a month, though I will only be in safari for about 2 weeks of that time. Transit itself (both ways) eats up 3-5 days, plus I'll be spending a few days in a few places along the way. I'd return to L.A. about 3 days before the start of the Screenwriting Expo.
So yeah, that the excitement in my world. Waiting to speak to the producers in the next couple of days to discuss the animal bios, the new spine idea, and the trip.
Tags: screenwriting, safari, animal+behavior