Creative Indecision

Being of a creative state of mind pretty much every day, be it with writing, drawing, or fantasising about the movie script I’ll one day (probably not) write, I’ve come across creative indecision fairly often. Recently, when working on Alan Shaw (see the WIP page), I had a choice between putting in a piece of dialogue that was pretty damned good (I thought) but might not necessarily fit, or removing it and making the flow of the story better. I ummed and aaahed over it for quite a while. But, in the end I took the risk and cut it.

“It’s ok, guys. I got this…”

That’s what we dabblers in the arts have to do. We make a decisive move for the aesthetic or plot-based gain of our work, be it a brush stroke or a sentence. And so it annoys me when people who make movies get away with any such deliberations. Hollywood is a sod for this. They must sit around a table, chewing on their pen lid, and they just go…

“Bugger it. We’ll just shoot both endings and shove one on the DVD.”

“Let’s make a version without any aliens for the non-SciFi fans.”

GAH! How annoying. Let me give you an example. The most recent is a perfect one. Prometheus is about to be released on DVD. As a fan of the Alien movies (at least Alien and Aliens) I had to see what was supposed to be a loose prequel to how those damned xenomorph eggs got on that planet in the first place. So I went, I watched, I wasn’t blown away, but I appreciated what they did and how they did it. I’m looking forward to the next prequel when we find out a bit more. But then I saw the advert for the DVD.

“…with an alternate beginning and ending”

That’s right. Not only could Ridley Scott not decide if the ending should be different, but the BEGINNING as well! So, essentially, this is an entirely new movie. Changing these two vital parts of a story, it doesn’t even matter what happens in between. This is evidently a huge money-making scam on the part of The Company (no, not Weyland Yutani). But Scott had to have agreed to film the extras or it would never have existed.

Ridley Scott: Sufferer of Stunted Decisiveness. One in ten older directors are afflicted with it.

I put this down to Creative Indecision. It’s like performance anxiety for creative types. Scott knew what a huge deal an Alien prequel would be, and has decided to “please everyone” by doing these alternate sections for those who didn’t like the original. Excuse my french, but when did directors of Ridley Scott’s caliber stop having balls? He’s a legend for a reason. He makes damned good films. So have a little faith in yourself, Scotty!

Basically, all this for a bit of extra fluff on the DVD. Next, every film will go totally Paranormal Activity and have 46 endings, just in case. But the lesson we must learn from this, dear friends, is to not let ourselves fall into the same trap. We must be decisive, amost righteous in our decision making. Our worlds are ours alone. Your readers/viewers/appreciators only see what you show them, so show it in the way that you think best. No one knows your story better than you do. Otherwise, we’ll end up with books stuffed with extra chapters at the end, with alternate bloody endings.

Thanks for reading.

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6 thoughts on “Creative Indecision

  1. Well, one way round this for a writer is to save the cut section of dialogue, action, etc, to use another day. This is particularly useful when someone who was supposed to be a supporting character starts jumping up and down, and saying ‘Me! Me! I’m waaaay more interesting than THAT bloke!’ (Minor character points at main character.)

    In other words, cut the minor character from Current Novel, but make them the star of Next Novel.

    As for DVD extras, the main times I look at those are the ‘Easter eggs’ on Doctor Who ones. Just occasionally, there are some absolute gems – I’m thinking of the ‘Sutekh’ one on ‘Pyramid of Mars’.

    1. Those are some good ideas, Sheila. Easter Eggs are great fun, and some of them really are interesting. But what about this terrible changing of endings and beginnings for the sake of a DVD? Surely that steps over the line of Easter Egg and into something completely more far-fetched and money-grabbing?

      1. What do I think? I think it’s indecisive at best; money-grabbing at worst. : ( Nothing like an Easter Egg! Greedy, in short.

        Those ‘Doctor Who’ ones are affectionate piss-takes, made by fans. I suspect they started as late-night conversations which may or may not have involved beer.

        Imagine a scene in a local pub: “Well, I’ve got this really cool video camera*, and Steve’s girlfriend is doing a theatrical make-up course at college, and your mum’s got a sewing machine…” You can picture the rest… Or, pop round sometime, and watch ‘Pyramids of Mars’ or ‘City of Death’. : )

        *or whatever they’re called these days…

  2. I’ve never thought about it that way before, Craig, but you’re right! Alternative endings have always felt like something of a cop out, but you’ve managed to perfectly articulate why! Ho hum, its up to the likes of us to be sure that we get over the Hamlet complex and just do what needs to be done without faff!

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