Last year I started planning my first ever feature length screenplay: Frozen Lake.
At first Frozen Lake was just a little idea that I forced my head to conjure up in order to pass one of my second year film modules.
We were told to write a treatment for a feature film idea with the intention of transforming it into a whole script in our final year of our film degree as our discipline.
I didn’t have much love for the characters, nor the story. I was incapable of condensing my idea into a few sentences. I couldn’t pin point the theme or the message. I was unable to successfully pitch the idea or find the hook.
“My script is about… a girl called… Maya? who is trying to escape this underground place… and nuclear war has happened. And, oh yeah! It’s set in the future. With mindless people who have been infected by the radiation. No. No. They aren’t zombies. No. And she wants to see the Frozen Lake for some reason. And she is thrown into prison for trying to escape where she meets a man called…Afon? He used to live at the Frozen Lake and has been grieving over his daughter for like thirty years. He takes Maya there. Stuff happens.”
I shat out the treatment in a week or so, fancied it up with the right phrases and the correct format. I passed the module, got a 2:1. Pretty good for a half-assed idea.
The summer rolls by. Good fun, tasty food and lazy days.
But behind my fake smile was the constant replay of story I had almost come to hate: Frozen Lake.
Why did I keep thinking about it? I did what I set out to do; write the treatment, pass the module, act like it never happened.
So why couldn’t I shake off the memory?
Why had this story gotten so under my skin?
September arrives. Proposal forms handed out. Choose your discipline.
Directing. Journalism. Screenwriting. Negotiated Portfolio (Editing, Camera, Sound etc).
I had always had my heart set on becoming an film editor. It was my hobby. Something I had done for years at home. I was good at it.
I scarred the paper with a fat black tick next to Screenwriting.
I was assigned my supervisor and had my first tutorial with her a few weeks later.
She asked me my story.
“My script is about… a girl called… Maya? who is trying to escape…”
Every fortnight, my supervisor would ask the same thing: “Tell me your story, what is it about?”
And I would just restate the same gibberish I had told her two weeks prior.
Then it happened.
She asked the question.
And I finally understood.
“Why do you need to tell this story?”
Frozen Lake wasn’t about Maya.
Frozen Lake was about Afon.
The little detail I had always glossed over..
A piece of back story I had deemed unimportant.
Something I never wanted to really dwell upon
The secret I hid from the world.
On the afternoon of 2nd December 2015, I stood up and did a twenty minute presentation of Frozen Lake.
I condensed by idea into a few sentences.
I pinpointed my themes and messages.
I pitched it.
“What are your inspirations?”
and I cried for the first time in two years since his death.