Ben Parsons Talks To Us Between The Dots About His Script Ellipsis.
Ellipsis refers to the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous and is often depicted as a set of three dots. In his script of the same name, which he also turned into a feature length film, Ben Parsons talks of the words which are not often uttered, feelings that are not usually communicated unless fate offers you a second chance.
After Hour : What inspires you to write?
Ben : I have been drawn to films my entire life because of the unique emotional experiences they provide and I became a filmmaker because I wanted to provide those experiences for others. I take inspiration from stories of many genres, mediums, budget levels and countries of origin. Ellipsis was inspired by the Before Trilogy, a series of films by Richard Linklater that follow a young couple walking and talking for the majority (if not the entirety) of the runtime. Those films were such a breath of fresh air for me because they showed how much you could do with so little and validated my love of dialogue driven films. Someone was out there succeeding at films I could only dream of making but wasn't sure I had the confidence to make. That's how Ellipsis was born--that new found faith that I could write a film that was almost entirely dialogue and have it still be an entertaining experience for someone else.
After Hour : When you start working on a screenplay, what do you work on at first, the structure or the scenes. What we asking for is an insight into your creative process.
Ben : When an idea first comes to me, it's typically the opening scene and the ending scene. I always know where I want to start and where I want to end before I start writing and have to spend the majority of my time bridging the two. When I decide to sit down and write, I always start by outlining the entire story and building the script from there. My writing is not a chronological process--I don't write scenes in a one, two, three order, but rather select scenes that I feel most confident tackling. The very last scene I write is typically somewhere in the middle, which often makes for a somewhat anti-climactic feeling of accomplishment.
After Hour : Tell us a bit about Ellipsis, any interesting thought/incident that happened when you were writing it?
Ben : I started the outline for Ellipsis in August 2013 and finished the final draft of the script in September 2018. It was never my intention to have it be my first feature, that decision coming when I realized that the majority of the film would only be the two main characters and would only require a handful of locations. From there, I rewrote the last half of the film to take place in a condo instead of a hotel room in order to use my apartment as the set for those scenes. I started pre-production in June 2018 and we were shooting by late September. We shot the film on a budget of $7000 that I raised from working at my local Target. Post-production added another $1000 to our overall expenses. It was all worth it.
After Hour : What are your other projects? Are you currently working on one?
Ben : Ellipsis is my first feature, but I wrote, directed and produced four shorts while I was in film school. The film I'm currently writing is called "Distance and Silence" and follows three adult sisters who, having been estranged for many years, suddenly find themselves deciding whether they want to help their father commit suicide after he reveals a terminal diagnosis. I'm hoping to finish writing sometime this year and be in production by next year.
After Hour : As a writer, which part of your job do you find as most intriguing?
Ben : I became a screenwriter because I love writing dialogue. The sound of intelligent people engaging in conversation is like music to me. The films I respond to the most focus on the human condition through the characters' relationships, and those are the stories that I love telling. The part of screenwriting I find most intriguing is how we're able to create our own characters, dialogue, story and world all by ourselves. As the sole writer on a project, I am responsible for giving every character their own unique voice, motivation, likes/dislikes, goals and alliances, and I find it utterly fascinating that so much can be built from just a single person.