How to Write an Improvised Script
Ben York Jones is an avid fan of improvisation and sketch comedy. Along with childhood friend and collaborator, Drake Doremus, Jones co-wrote the 2011 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Like Crazy.
Like Crazy has earned much attention for its realism - but the unconventional process that the filmmakers employed has also led to some misunderstanding: For example, the October 21st, 2011 NY Times reported that Like Crazy was made "without a script."
As a co-writer of the film, Ben York Jones felt compelled to respond. Initially he put out a 140 character response via twitter: "The actors worked from a very detailed "scriptment" written in prose. On set, they were asked to put things in their own words.”
While that brief response suggests the broad strokes - the actual work involved (from inspiration to execution) on Like Crazy deserved more detail. Like Crazy is a film that all microbudget filmmakers could profitably study.
That's why I'm grateful that on January 24th, 2012 (in a guestpost for Ted Hope's invaluable blog) Ben York Jones has shared more about the process of conceiving and making Like Crazy.
Here are some excerpts from that blogpost:
"[W]e decided what would be important to communicate was not what the characters should say, but what they should withhold."
"[W]hen you ask your cast to improvise, you’re also asking the crew to adjust accordingly. A focus-puller’s task, for example, becomes a lot more demanding when the actors have no marks to hit"
If you're thinking about making your own film outside the traditional production paradigm of Hollywood films, read everything you can about the making of Like Crazy and the ideas that inspired their process. A great place to start is Ben York Jones' entire post on Ted Hope's blog.