When I started writing Attract Mode, I'd planned to keep that screenplay short - maybe 12 to 15 pages, with only 3 or 4 locations, lots of dialogue, and a few props, so I could shoot it myself. Ha! It grew to over 30 pages, and at some point I let the reins loose and wrote a couple sequences in a large arcade game repair/sales/rental/party venue - based on a real place somewhat near me. I thought I could approach them about shooting on their premises, maybe bartering in some free commercial work for them.
All that was pretty ambitious - really, too ambitious, since I haven't nearly done the quantity of shooting and editing that would give me the confidence to round up a full cast and even a small crew, and secure location shooting. I needed to go way, way smaller - and shorter. Some people say for your first "real" short film, anything longer than three minutes is too long. That sounded ridiculous to me, until I shot Robot Roundup, devoting about 30 hours to the project - and it featured a baby (my son) who doesn't have any lines, an overdubbed horse and robot - all fairly controllable elements.
And yet, though I was mostly happy with the final outcome from a technical point of view, there were compromises galore along the way. I definitely needed something much more modest, that I could conceivably shoot in one or two locations in my own house, with minimal characters and camera angles. Something that warm me up from a technical point of view, forcing me to work with a people who were performing, existing settings and getting the sound, lighting, and camera work right.
So, I wrote Slippage. I had just watched Primer (see the trailer below) for a second time, so time travel was on my mind. I kept the story very dialogue-heavy, inserting lots of science-specific terminology - some readers said too much, but I wanted an authentic feel, like Primer has. And there's a little twist at the end, or really a payoff - probably expected, or the story would be a little too dry.
Interestingly enough, I saw a documentary on the Higgs Boson - the MacGuffin of the story (if a five-page screenplay can have a MacGuffin), only after finishing the screenplay. It was really interesting and filled in a ton of information I didn't know about that subject, but I didn't change the script to reflect that newfound knowledge. I thought it was tech-heavy enough, and I didn't want to overload it with even more jargon.
And I still haven't shot it, sadly - having a baby does not add to one's available free time (not that anyone ever said it would). Hopefully that'll happen this fall, before it gets too cold - that's important, since almost all of the story would take place in my back yard.