Today was a day with a lot of writing. I finished the script for the promotional video to go on my Patreon page this morning, though I think tomorrow or Thursday morning will be a better time to film it. Most notably, I finished the script of You Were My Friend.
I feel a combination of relief and excitement. Relief because I’d been falling behind on this project – at least I felt like I was, which in a way is even worse than actually being behind on a project that’s important to you. Excitement because I know that this is just the first phase in a very exciting production process.
It's interesting to have finished the script for You Were My Friend after having written the script for You Were My Friend two years ago and produced it at the Pearl Company Theatre. It was actually my most successful creative project yet, simply because it actually got produced and we made a little bit of money.
One reason I wanted to do this film project is that I thought that a lot of circumstances conspired against us in the original theatrical run. For the sake of logistics, we were producing the play in Hamilton, when it took place in Toronto, and was very much a Toronto story. But I lived in Hamilton at the time, and my director Mel already know the owner of a theatre there.
Also, I think there were a lot of ways in which the theatre script couldn’t tell the story as well as film ultimately could. I only fully realized this in the course of writing the script. The theatrical version only had my two lead actresses on the stage and a single set. The story was told only through their words.
That resulted in some very intense emotional scenes and displays, and some moments that cut to the essence of the ideas I wanted the story to explore about the desperation that underemployment and poverty pressure creates.
But it also resulted in a lot of ambiguity over where the story ultimately ended, and ambiguity over the meaning of some of the film’s events. For a lot of their backstory, we could only tell it through the conflicting, and sometimes self-contradictory accounts that the leads told each other in their long, twisting scenes of conversation.
This is a realistic dramatic play. Most of the sequences consisted of the leads talking to each other. The two of them talking to each other established the drama of the story. It had to. All I had was two actresses, one set, and a director and crew who knew how to make the most of a cheap lighting grid.
While we may not be able to achieve the most ambitious shots I wrote in this script (not sure if we can fly a second unit crew to get establishing shots of the Rocky Mountains for the first 20 seconds of the story’s one scene in Alberta), this is going to be a story with more characters, more locations, and more of the story on the actual screen than the theatre version could ever manage.
I mean, there are still long sequences of Vicki and Madison just talking to each other. But they work differently than in the theatre. In the theatrical version, all I had to suggest the existence of a world outside their apartment was for them to talk about it.
In the film, the dynamic is very different, simply because we can film stuff outside the apartment. So we’ll see the characters out in the world doing things, sometimes together, sometimes on their own. Then they’ll come back to the apartment and talk about it with each other.
And the drama in their friendship comes not only from what they themselves do together and in their own lives. It’s also a matter of contrasting what we see happening to them with what they tell each other happened. Depending on how well which order works for a given event, the script shows the event, then the conversation about it, or intercuts them both.
Now, the drama comes not only from what happens to them, or only from what they say happens to them. It comes from how much of the truth the audience can see them hiding from each other.