Skip to main content

Featured

Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

toys

We were walking on the street and there was a toy gun on the ground. I saw no children around, and in one action snatched it up. 
E looked at me.
"Isn't that someone's toy?" She asked.
"We'll bring it back when we are done with it." I explained.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I think they didn't really want it anyway." She said.

The plastic gun with its bright yellow handle sat on the windowsill by my desk for a few weeks. I used to shoot a BB gun when I was a boy. My brother had one too. My father had guns in the house, for hunting. Sometimes the only reason there was meat on the table was because of those guns. The Lone Ranger was a big deal back then, more interesting, more accessible than Superman or Spiderman. He had a pistol, and a horse. I used to walk around the hallways of my elementary school squinting into the distance because it seemed that was something that cowboys always did, especially the Lone Ranger on his Palomino.

As soon as we left the farm, guns were no longer fascinating. I preferred cameras, watches, a cheap guitar. The Lone Ranger doll, broken and scratched was forgotten. It never even made the move to that small town. Something flipped over. It was David Bowie and Kurt Vonnegut, the B52's and The Clash that littered my shelves then.




I try to create projects to do with E in the summertime, while all of her friends are in their country houses, or in Italy or Miami, Thailand, some places she cannot even find on a map. These collaborations are distractions, and they are a joy to create. I script and concept and she reads all of my notes. I show her the way I develop ideas. Sometimes we shoot a little test, and she hovers behind my shoulder, munching on almonds as I manipulate the footage. She nods sometimes. It all makes sense to her. The story is a tough one, and we handle it carefully. She does not shy away from the truth, but we don't push it.

Then we record, we shoot, we edit, I make some music, we mix, we re-record the narration, the colors all get adjusted, graphics, and then it all percolates, like a pot of chili waiting to thicken, maturing. We watch a screener. There are always a few little cosmetic fixes, but it works.

She cracks one of those quiet, satisfied smiles. She understands why I took the plastic gun from the ground a few weeks ago now.

It had a story to tell.






Comments

Popular Posts

best personal blogs
best personal blogs