Secret Sundays

I like waking up early on a Sunday and beating the birds to the worms and the worms to the dirt. There’s something different about the air. I could never explain the science of it but sound seems to pass through it differently. Everything is clearer. It’s the difference between balanced surround sound and hearing everything come out of two dinky speakers. Perhaps my own physiology plays a part as well. I just seem so much more aware. A bee on a flower. Another bee on an almost identical flower. The way people seem like background art as they bussle about. A plane passes overhead. It seems so far away and yet, paradoxically, at the tip of my fingers. When I step out the door I find the detritus of a Saturday Night world. A handkerchief, a shoulderbag even a shoe. These are secrets that usually only custodians are privy to. The world went right on spinning past these lost items but in about 5 hours, some young girl, with mascara face art is going to wake up and wonder why she’s shorter on one side today. I know the answer and now so do you.

I like to have a mission on days like this. Today I’m going to buy bacon. This is ironic because at the same time I’m thinking that I need to exercise like this more I’m going to eat the fatty bacon like a cannibal pig. I buy “miracle bubbles” at the supermarket. I think back on the simple joy of being a kid, when joy came in a cheap plastic bottle for 37 cents. I want Maya to know that joy. I’ve become really good at blowing bubbles. Maya doesn’t understand it yet. She’s under attack from invisible pests that explode in wetness. We’ll try again later. Or maybe she never will. Takako, 32 years deep, is equally unimpressed.

I look at the magazine section in the supermarket. How does Sarah Jessica Parker get the cover of anything. Does any woman wake up and say, “I want to be Sarah Jessica Parker today!” I’ve been watching Mad Men on Netflix. I can’t help but feel that the ads in these magazines would disappoint Don Draper. I strategize. If someone catches me reading Marie Claire I’ll look at a sexy model and pretend she’s my ex and I’m pining for days gone by. Am I writing this way because Don Draper did in the Season 4 episode, Summer Man? Maybe I am. It doesn’t matter. We should all be a little more honest.

I thought about this on the walk back to the apartment. All the witty things I would write swimming in my head drowning in my head. I wanted to go on Facebook and say the perfect thing. Something bite sized. A crowd pleaser. Maybe, “Secret Sundays rule!”

Well, that blows.

‘Sup net peeps. This is Poe from Brian’s screenplay “The Dog Next Door.” The not-semi finalist for best original screenplay in Final Cut’s 2011 Big Break contest. Bummer, dude.

Anyway, he’s off being all emo in a sunless corner of his office so I’m taking over his blog.

Check this shit out. I want to fill myself with that. Lacey and I were supposed to go to one of these unholy shrines to grease and lard in Ohio but Mom in all her unwisdom moved us to the Dirty Jers. Then bitch totally went without me. I hope she got stains all over that tiered sequin mini she loves so much. God, she can be such a shifty Swifty. (Just Kidding LayLay. -I’d still do ya-) Oh and then weeping boy here goes and writes her out of the second draft. Like, no wonder he didn’t even qualify for the semis, Lacey is love.

[But wait, there’s more!]

Bioillogical Wonder

Allow me to sum up my feelings upon beholding my new born daughter, Maya Ariel, in the hospital.

Bioillogical Wonder

It was biological
And yet, bioillogical.
Enough mountain dew to fill a pool
And blindness tempted three times daily
Should have killed any chance I had
To behold her eyes
And within them, that infinite Milky Way.
What a curious thing she was and is, and am
All yawning, skinny and small.
Covered in hair, still a chimpanzee
On the wrong side of evolution
But in the cradle an angel,
And in my arms my saving grace
When she raises that voice
And severs my ties to a life gone by
I let it fall away into the pages
To be pressed, preserved and savored
On holidays and birthdays
Because one day, when my heart skips out on the beat
Hers will play lead, and everyone will dance
To the biorhythm,
To the biohymn.

By: Brian Stewart, June 2011

Logjammin’

Now that the first draft is done, and before I embark on the labor intensive cleanup session, it’s time to start thinking of a logline. The logline is what unproven screenwriters use to get the attention of the producers, producer’s assistants and interns off their mojitos and back on the thing they get paid to do: FINDING AND PRODUCING SCRIPTS.

The problem is that reading is hard, and boring. Add in the millions of people, like me, who’ve been told that they could be writers (but probably aren’t) and all you get is 200 digital files in an electronic waste basket. They won’t read just anything. You have to put gravy on that bitch. Aside from sending them a gold plated script… you need a good logline that will make them feel like they’re right there in the theater watching the trailer for your film. Except it can’t be written that way.

So here’s my dilemma. I need a logline to enter my screenplay in the contest. But… how do you write a logline for a story about a teenage girl whose father killed himself and a bunch of kids in a drunk driving accident, bankrupting the family and forcing them to move back to a ghetto part of New Jersey with the mother’s estranged parents, where the girl meets a talking dog and starts trading it meat for stories from its life that happen to share narrative resonance with her own. What genre is that even? Coming of age?? Drama?? Comedy??

Here are my attempts so far:

Circumstances force a Midwest mother and her daughter to move back in with her parents in a seedy part of New Jersey and face the tragedies and misunderstanding that have torn their family apart. Also there’s a talking dog.

Do producerbots understand humor this dry?

When thirteen year old Poe starts trading the neighbor’s talking dog meat for stories of the past, it highlights the rifts in her own dysfunctional family.

I like this one but I’m not sure if it says enough.

Any suggestions… ?

HOLY FUCKING SHIT IT’S DONE

@ 10:50PM on Easter Sunday of 2011. I finished my first screenplay. At 130 Pages, I guarantee there will be some cuts made, but for right now it’s Mardi Gras in here. It’s full of laughter and tears and a whole lot of fucking swearing and it’s done — for the love of all that’s holy — the first draft is done.

I barely made it through those last 10 pages it got so emotional. I need to not be writing at the moment so I bid you good night.

Home Stretch

It’s been a week and the clock is ticking. The first draft currently sits at about 85% completion and 100 pages. I just wrote the climactic scene in the story within a story that, in my mind, is like something out of Hannibal… but with dogs. Actually it’s just the third act break of the story within a story. I did nothing yesterday from 6AM until 5:30PM except write, eat and watch an episode of Fringe’s crazy good Season 3 three part finale. Went to a friend’s birthday party after that and I swear the social interaction and presence of other people made me euphoric. Now I begin the final writing push… Must replenish electrolytes…

The Dog Next Door

My friend Victoria brought it to my attention that I have yet to write anything about the actual contents of the screenplay I’m writing. this is just the kind of thing that I’m apt to forget. I know what kind of screenplay I’m writing so I just assume you do too. As the great bards of Siam Shade once sang: “Why don’t you know in my head!?”

The story is called The Dog Next Door. It first began as a writing exercise for Takako, when I tried to get her back into creative writing. Originally it was just about a girl who is visiting her grandparents and starts trading food and water to the neighbor’s abused talking dog in exchange for stories. Takako, who is a fan of murder mysteries, suggested the story go in that direction. I tried but I never quite got it.

That was almost 10 years ago… but like the wind shapes the stone through the centuries, I have eroded these impenetrable ideas into a framework for what I think is going to be an amazing story. The story is less about the murder in the dog’s story now and more about the girl who has never been let to grieve the death of her father, after he kills himself and a carload of teens in a fatal drunk driving accident. The mother and daughter lose everything to the courts and eventually have to move back in with her estranged parents in a bad part of New Jersey. Hilarity and family drama ensues.

I’ve always been a fan of magic realism. Rumiko Takahashi is my template. There were elements of magic in her family dramas that didn’t necessarily propel the narrative. They were almost incidental. That’s key.

Here’s hoping I can share more soon.