Seventeen pages written, plus a little more that got put aside once I realized that particular scene shouldn’t arrive until later in the story. (Yeah, yeah, only seventeen pages. I warned you about my procrastination. Deal with it.)
The importance of that page count? Looks like we’re going feature length. Seventeen full pages in, and the monster hasn’t even shown up yet – although he’s only a page or two away, since the next scene to be written is the “teens find the spaceship wreckage and out pops the monster.” Going by the page-a-minute rule of thumb, there’s no way to wrap everything up in the next thirteen pages in order to make this a short film. Sure, I write a lot of dialogue that’ll get condensed once the actors get it up to Howard Hawks-esque speed, but even then, odds are against this coming in under a half-hour.
Is this a surprise? Not really. But I didn’t want to commit to any specific run time until I got the screenplay up and running; I wasn’t sure if the scenes in my head would require as much time as I thought. Turns out they do, and more.
So what does that mean in terms of the rest of the story? Not much, at least so far. I have no plans to reach a specific running time; I’ll just write the story as it stands and figure the rest out later. A worst case scenario, which I fully expect to encounter, finds the script topping out at a 60-70 minute timeframe, too short for a modern feature, too long to trim down into a short. Padding might help in later drafts, but dopey sci-fi comedies like this frequently suffer from a mid-movie lag caused by such padding. This is a novelty movie, really, and the danger of running out of steam too early is a top concern.
A longer script does mean greater hassles once production kicks in, though. It’s no longer a cutesy project that we can toss together over a weekend. Looks like I’m locked in for the long haul.