Wood's Confection, A Screenplay

10 Feb 2007

Here's another little something for your entertainment. Wood's Confection was my first screenplay. I entered it in the Nicholl Fellowship contest back in 2005, but was unsuccessful (which isn't surprising, as it's only the screenplay contest, drawing nearly 5,000 entries last year). If you win a Nicholl, you're pretty much able to quit your day job and embark upon a career in film. Didn't happen (yet). (For any screenwriters interested, visit http://www.oscars.org/ and look for links to the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.)

The Story: A retired marketing executive's latest entrepreneurial pursuit -- developing a candy bar in the shape of Jesus -- dovetails with an adventure involving his younger cousin's circle of criminal friends. The recipe for this tightly woven tale includes elements of dark comedy, mystery, and a dash of philosophy. (Yeah, a real crowd pleaser, right?)

The Background Story: I had a good time writing this -- used to carry my laptop around and squeeze in a half-hour here, another half-hour there. It's not the best way to write, but it does sort of keep your conscious and unconscious mind occupied with solving storyline problems that creep up. And this one had its share, most of which were resolved with real "aha"-type moments (which are, for me, among the more enjoyable parts of writing in any genre).

Whether the next observation I have to share is good or bad may be a matter of opinion, but much of what's in here was inspired by real-life events. For example, the opening scene. That little boy in church was me, and the story of the teardrop is entirely true (though I changed the teacher's name to Mrs. Ross). Many other scenes actually happened as well (for example, the incident that inspires Wood to take up his entrepreneurial experiment).

Other things, of course, were invented. As I suspect is the case for many screenwriters, there exists a related, virtual stack of background documents that, if ever printed out, would be a foot tall -- character sketches, research, long sections written out as fiction, plot outlines, whole short stories representing subplots that were ultimately cut from the action, even a bunch of photos of various actors I'd searched out to represent the characters in my mind's eye.

And more. I daresay that, barring the highly unlikely event that I become one of those authors that grad students study in depth, many of the cleverly hidden secrets within Wood's Confection will go undiscovered. But, that's okay; I still get a private kick out of them.

As for a rating, I'm afraid this one would certainly merit an R. There's foul language, a misogynist Russian, car thieves, various drunks, extremely lewd references, some strong racist language from a neo-Nazi, and a dash of porn for good measure. Not something you should let the kids read.

The above text appears in the paperback version. But, as an "exclusive blog extra," I thought I'd expand on that thought, above, about the actor photos. While writing this one, I thought it might help me to scour actor sites on the internet and do a little virtual casting during the character sketch phase. I wish I'd saved the URLs for these pics. Here's what I came up with:

Wood. Wood's the main character, of course -- the retired marketing executive. You can kind of see this actor's slight resemblance to Jeff Daniels, as I'd blogged about long ago when I'd decided that Jeff should really play the lead. Again, I wish I knew who these people were now, as it'd be fun to link up to them or something.

Billy. Billy is Wood's younger cousin. The family relationship that produced cousins with this much of an age difference is not disclosed in the script. Just one of the mysteries. Billy's a car thief.

Vasily (aka "Fekewbich"). Fekewbich, as you might guess, is a shit-stirring misogynist. He's generally over the top and would no doubt piss off anyone with delicate sensibilities. But, he's not the story's antagonist. Actually, he may have some of the better lines, which I'll admit may be viewed by some as problematic. But, Wood's character is purposely written just the way he is. It's potentially the topic of a much longer post (which I'll spare you until such time as the movie gets made).

Bones. The younger guy in the group -- gets picked on, etc. In retrospect, this guy looks a bit too tough for the role. I think I'd go with a more Casey Affleck type (not him currently, but the way he looked back in his Good Will Hunting days).

The Clergyman. Groundskeeper at St. Ignatius -- a central character. Talks with a French accent.

Olla. Wood's wife, a wedding planner.

Amber. Billy's girlfriend / partner in crime.

Telia. Bones' fiance, an artist.

Moustapha. Biker, ex-con.

Holly. Bartender at the Neon Mare (a tavern), based on my step grandmother, who seems to say the word "ass" in almost every sentence.

So Why Bother with Lulu?
Good question ... I'm not always sure what to do with things that are "finished." Normally, people don't publish screenplays. But, I got to thinking: Why not? They can be just as entertaining ... Maybe some others would enjoy reading it. Plus, I'm gearing up for the publication of my Tales of the Midwest memoir and needed some more experience with the Lulu system. (Trust me, it's kind of involved from a layout standpoint. Getting the fonts and page sizes to behave in the PDFs, per Lulu's specs, has proven frustrating to say the least.) Additionally, I like to screw around in Photoshop. And, hey, you never know ... Maybe some indie filmmaker will stumble across it and want to make the film. Weirder things have happened.

Oh, and one more thing. I'd like to send out a huge thanks to Mr. Robin V. Stacey for allowing me to use his photo "Whittington Church HDR" for the cover shot. [ Link to Robin's Flickr photo set.] I've turned into quite a fan of HDR photography, which stands for High Dynamic Range. (For the best explanation of what this is, including some dramatic examples, check out the Photomatix site. Can't wait to buy that software!) I thought Robin's Whittington Church photo fit my needs perfectly. [ Link to the original photo.]

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  1. I Cast Jeff Daniels

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