Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back In The Script Saddle

Let me take you back, friends, back to the year 2005, back to a place known as Los Angeles. A place I lived, where I met two friends, Mason and Kyle. Imagine the three of us now, in a chain Italian restaurant, enjoying fine garlic knots soaked in butter.

We are talking about movies, as most people in L.A. are at any given time. Kyle brings up a strange idea: he's always wanted to make a movie about the Battle of Fort McHenry. This is the battle immortalized in The Star-Spangled Banner, where the British shelled this fort for 25 straight hours before giving up. Now, Mason and I are skeptical. After all, this battle isn't really a...battle, per se. I mean, it technically is, but nothing much happens there. Shell shell shell, minimal casualties, Francis Scott Key sees a flag flying and gets inspired, the end. So in terms of drama, not a lot of meat on the bone.

Mason goes, "You know what would make this movie awesome? Werewolves."

We laugh...and then spend the next two hours figuring out the werewolf-at-Fort-McHenry movie. I don't know what possesed us, but we ran with it. (Improv training must have worked, 'cause we said "yes" to everything.) We decided that the protagonist would have to be played by James van der Beek. Don't ask why. He would be this American soldier who discovers he's a werewolf during the shelling, and it'd be all about horror and hidden werewolfness and WEREWOLVES???

Plainly, this is a ludicrous story. But admit it: you're intrigued. You'd watch it On Demand.

So over the years Mason has often said that he and I should get together one weekend and just churn this script out. (Kyle lives in Montana now, which is horribly inconvenient for this sort of plan.) I hemmed and hawed, because I have a complicated relationship with screenwriting, in that I basically talked myself out of ever writing a script again. Blah blah blah. When Mason brought it up again a few months ago, though, I was more receptive. I mean, why the hell not, right? What do I have to lose? What am I afraid of? I ASK YOU.

So last weekend I drove up to New Haven and Mason and I attacked this thing. We dug into the outline, figured out a completely new plot, added characters and then spent all of Saturday writing the first act. We did it. I'm still astonished. It's been years in the making, and even more years since I wrote a screenplay, and we just did it. Granted, our brains were mush for the rest of the weekend, and I had to leave the next day, but we have an act. More importantly, we have momentum! We're going to get together in November and finish this thing off.

What was remarkable was how easy it was for me to just glide on the laptop and let it go. It felt precisely like riding a bicycle. It was profoundly cathartic to take up a form that I thought I was done with and realize that I wasn't. It was a really good time.

So be on the lookout for Werewolves of 1812. And if you're a producer, get in on this action early and give us a shout.

3 comments:

  1. I'll bet my sister would be Team van der Beek.

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  2. THE WEREWOLVES DO NOT HAVE WELL-DEFINED ABS.

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  3. Ironically, you may have hit a pop culture nail on the head. Vampires are 'in', so why not werewolves. A friend recently recommended a book entitled 'WWZ', Z for Zombie. Glad you are writing. 'twilight's last gleaming' sure takes on a whole new meaning with werewolves in the picture.

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