A few months ago the screenplay of “Dust” was published as a book. The publisher has now undertaken to do the same with “Before the Rain.” Thus the screenplay written first comes out second. To keep “Dust” company. In almost all interviews I gave for newspapers and tv in dozens of countries over the final years of the last century I kept repeating that “Before the Rain” is not a documentary about former Yugoslavia, nor about Macedonia, nor is it a documentary at all. I would say: “You can see this from the aesthetic approach: it’s shot like a fairytale; look at the camera work, or the editing, or the music. I am using actors. It’s scripted, for Heaven’s sake.” Who got it - got it.
A few things from the foreword to “Dust” apply to this book. That’s why I copy them here: Reading a screenplay is a bit like reading an architectural blueprint. There is an awful lot of technical stuff and a lot of things you have to imagine. Screenplays are not written for literary readings. They are technical blueprints for future films. Often times during filming the director will change something. The screenplay is only a sketch, not the Holy Book. So, after the shoot, you almost always end up with a film different from the screenplay you started with. Sometimes very different, sometimes not so different, sometimes not different at all. Seldom not different at all.
During the filming, as these changes take place, the continuity person meticulously notes the changes. Later, they go back to the screenplay and apply these changes to the script. Retroactively. In the end, of course, that screenplay is not the same as the initial screenplay from before the filming. When you buy a published screenplay, in your hands you hold an exact description of that which already exists in the film itself, the words which the characters have spoken, and the images which the camera has shown. You don’t hold the sketch after which they all started working many months ago.
The screenplay contained in this book is a real screenplay. In other words, this script has not been polished after the finished film. In your hands you hold that draft after which we started making the film. (The idea for “Before the Rain” was begot in the second half of 1991. The five pages Simon Perry of British Screen decided to support in 1992 became a screenplay in January 1993. It took them only two weeks to grow from five pages to a hundred-plus. We shot the same year, and finished the film in 1994. This is the final draft, the one after which we started shooting, a draft very similar to the first draft.) During the shoot and the edit I felt some things should be changed, so I changed them. The screenplay is not a Holy Book, is it?
You won’t see those changes here. This screenplay’s frozen in the state it was in before filming began (like a photo revealing all faults and virtues of the moment it was taken, not of today). However, you will see a few scenes which were in the screenplay, which we even shot, but scenes which I later decided not to have in the film. Anyway, I felt that changing the screenplay after a finished film is like going back to your old high school ten years later to improve on your grades. It just doesn’t fly…