Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ghosts and Dreams: THE SAVING's Origins

I'm pretty sure when I sat down on a whim to write the screenplay that has now become my spring board short film THE SAVING I had no idea what journey I was about to begin.

The inspiration for the film came from one line in one of my all time favorite novels, To Kill A Mockingbird. I'm probably slaughtering what the great southern gentleman Atticus Finch had to say but it went a little like this "there were other ways of making people into ghosts."

That concept struck me as, well very profound a
nd really got the wheels going in my head. The idea of ghosts and the living interacting is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination but to me it was fresh. Within the context of To Kill A Mockingbird Atticus was not addressing the actual living and dead but, Bo Radley, a character who had been locked away from all else because of his mental state and the things he had done and experienced in his life.

I wanted to take the idea of a individual being locked away, not so much physicall
y but in a prison of their own making, their mind, and expand on it. We can be our worst enemies and most of the time when we sink to such a hopeless state we need someone to reach out and save us from ourselves.

Also I have a slight obsession with the dream world. I guess the reason I find the study of subconscious so enticing is because you never know what its going to spurt out. I believe that people are truest in their dreams. The rawest form of who we are, the way our mind perceives us but it is also so easily corrupted with all those torrential emotions coming into play.

The idea of living and the dead interacting within the dream world struck me as intriguing and I ran with it. Hopefully my inspiration will is apparent both on paper and soon to be on screen.

It is on these concepts that I built the storyline and characters in THE SAVING.

The first draft of the film began with VO (voiceover) from the male protagonist PAUL but I after some helpful feedback from my film mentor Bobby Shook I quickly did away with that. While VO can convey information well enough it rarely lets the audience figure out the characters and plot line for themselves. For me, its better for the audience to develop opinions through the way a character carries themselves and the dialogue that they exchange then simply spelling out all that glorious subtext.

I quickly burned my way through draft one and two and of course started the whole 3.1 , 3.2 .3.3 listing thing. The story just kept getting better! I felt a connection to the characters upon first typing FADE IN: but by the final draft I'm wholly in love with them. They've blossomed from mere two dimensional cutouts of people to characters with multiple layers of personality. In my heart and mind, Skye Mattheus and Paul Connel are as real as I am. Call it being an artsy weird or obsessive writer, whatever your pick but that's how it is.

I owe a lot to Harper Lee. That one piece of dialogue started me on this long journey, not only as a screenwriter and
filmmaker but also has a person.

THE SAVING has changed me. My sincere desire is it will also change the people who watch it. That is my Hope. That is my Dream. I will make it more then a Ghost.


  1. This is so interesting to see 'behind the scenes' (excuse the pun! lol) of the process. Harper Lee is one of my all time favorites. I have always said and others have not like me saying this, "If all I can do is get 'Her Sizwe' (my WIP MS) half as 'right' as To Kill a Mockingbird, I would die happy not having written or published anything else."

    Also, in my WIP there is a chapter which references To Kill a Mockingbird and why it is a sin to do that from the main character's point of view.

    Finally, when one knows deep down that others too will be changed by what has effected oneself, that conviction is beyond limit to manifest into wondrous things. Keep at it.


  2. The living and dead interacting in the dream world, what a fascinating concept! Love it!

  3. No I don't think you are slaughtering what Atticus Finch said ... you are expanding on it, using it to explore the concept with your own characters and vision