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General ramblings on moviemaking, etc

August 30, 2010

Four months ago, I was a reporter, a mom, a co-director of a film festival and a wannabe writer someday. Then a friend e-mailed me asking to look at the first act of his script. I review lots of friends scripts because I am brutally honest and people like to get feedback. I didn’t think much of it.

But then I read the story. And it opened with a flash forward sequence and a gun. I told him to get rid of all of that but keep the rest (with a lot more suggestions of what to change too because I am picky). But there was something that drew me in right away to the character of Jacob, a wandering soul trying to find a home. I loved it. I hit send on the e-mail and went back to work.

Then my friend called me a few minutes later. He asked me if I ever thought of writing a script. I said of course, some day, which was my usual answer to everyone who asks. But I had been thinking about it more and more this year. He then asked me to write the script with him. I was paralyzed with fear by the idea and couldn’t believe I could contribute anything of significance.

But I said yes. And I started writing. And it wasn’t great stuff. But I kept pushing and kept studying what he wrote and learning the style and craft of screenwriting. Then it began to click and we wrote like we were one mind.

Then I wrote Connie, the mother of the lead, and this intense emotional scene that was completely cathartic yet depressing. Her character haunts me, even more so now that Cindy Hogan has fleshed her out and made her so real. In fact, all of the women in the film are this piece of everyone of us as women and they each touch me on a different level. Jill became that broken part of me that dares for more. Haddy was the eternal optimist that we cling to when all has gone wrong. Kristen is that scared part of us that uses the world as a mirror, never letting anyone really see us. They are all someone we know or something within ourselves we can recognize and I love each and every actress that brought them to life.

Three months went by like a blur where we wrote and fundraised and began thinking about casting, then casting, then location scouting, then changing to Oxford, then re location scouting, then casting some more and so on and so on until every part of my being was consumed completely with this movie. Friends, family, boys were all put to the side and I became obsessed. But in a way that felt better than anything else I have done in life.

Then we began filming, less than a month ago. A 19 day shoot with a couple days off in between where I went to my day job then went to set, often sleeping about 3-5 hours a night, if that. I was delirious most of the time but so in love with the process of the craft and watching everyone work. But even more so was the bonding you develop on set when everyone is working on top of their game and getting to know one another. It was like summer camp or a dysfunctional family. It was priceless. I even got the chance to direct a very short scene and it was exhilarating.

Now, we are on the verge of post production, with Thomas editing and me prepping marketing materials and working on festival strategy. It is the part I am most familiar with in the film world and also love, but it saddens me to think just how long it may be until I can work on another film.

Thomas has made a teaser trailer already and it is beautiful and made me cry. In fact, I have cried, sweat, bled and felt more intensely in the past couple of months than I have in years. I have been frozen for the past couple of years, living a comfortable life and not taking much chance on anything. To make a movie with virtually no money and in the middle of Mississippi in summer, that all had to change. This movie and Thomas have helped bring me back to life and for that, I have no words to describe.

I share this with you because I have been mostly absent from this blog, my life for months now and plan to fully submerge myself back into the real world. But it is with a changed heart, a new outlook, and the ability to dream a little bigger now.

Check out the trailer, let me know what you think. I hope you fall in love with these people as I have.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Aaron permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:02 pm

    It has been a joy to watch this come together from afar. Your intense passion for the project and exhaustion from the process have been apparent, and it is inspiring to see all that you have achieved. A lot of people write screenplays, but few see them through the whole way. The trailer looks great and I cannot wait to see the edited film.

  2. Rob permalink
    September 1, 2010 12:29 am

    Melanie,
    It’s been a privelege to spend time with you over the last couple months. I’m glad to see you fulfilled your dream of writing a screenplay but I’m sure it won’t be the first and last. It does truly seem that the stars aligned for this one. The movie fell right into place not only in Tom’s journey but in yours. You have already impacted so many lives by assembling us and allowing us to be a part of the process. I feel that everyone who sees the film will be touched and will identify with the characters in the same way that I did when I read the first draft. Just look at the response to the teaser. I miss you and Tom terribly and daily and I can’t wait to come to Oxford again. Once again thanks for everything and I feel so blessed to have met you.

    • oxfordfilmfreak permalink*
      September 1, 2010 6:07 pm

      Thank you Rob, you were such an asset to this film from day 1. See you soon I am sure!

  3. August 31, 2010 11:24 am

    I’m so proud of you Melanie. You are actually doing what you want to do. I totally know the “someday” thinking. I keep doing that myself. Someday I’ll write that script. Someday I’ll get back to writing articles regularly. Someday I’ll get serious about trying to create something.

    I am so happy to see you saying screw it to someday and doing something now. The trailer looks great. I can’t wait to see the film.

    • oxfordfilmfreak permalink*
      September 1, 2010 6:07 pm

      Thanks Pat, Miss you lots!

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