As I stated in last Thursday’s post I had put in a couple of weeks brainstorming the story by the time I called my producer friend Howard on June 16, 2005. First, we chatted about the possibilities of a fourth Indiana Jones, as the rumor mill was then churning that a script was in the works. It was true, Howard told me – his friend George (yes, that George) wasn’t taking calls from anyone, and instead had locked himself away to write. Towards the end of our conversation I mentioned my ideas for a National Treasure sequel. This grabbed his attention. He told me he had been approached about a possible TV spin-off. And he encouraged me to get writing.
By June 20th, I started in on the actual writing during my morning commute. The next day a sequel for National Treasure was announced in the press. I contacted Howard later that day and asked if I should toss it in light of this news. His first impulse was to advise me to pull the plug. But on second consideration he thought it might prove worthwhile to keep going, if nothing more than to enhance my writing skills.
So I kept going, originally thinking I’d just try to see how far I’d get in thirty days. And I soon fell into a rhythm of reading on the morning bus and writing on the afternoon one. And I took to using a spreadsheet to collect and organize all my ideas for the plot.
I went beyond thirty days. By September 23 I was up to 63 pages (in Final Draft), the whole swelling to 194 pages exactly one year later, and before I began the first rewrite in August of 2006. Or would “unwrite” be a better word? For I was chopping dialogue, scenes, sequences, etc., and rewriting to smooth out the story and to get the page count down.
The whole is actually two stories as I had designed it in the beginning – a contemporary one showing the hero seeking to clear his name by uncovering the parallel story of what his ancestor had done; and how that past was now impacting his present. (A little DW Griffith-ish).