Don’t laugh at me.
But I was catching up on some old episodes of Glee, and Rachel Berry was singing “Don’t Stop Believing” in her dream audition as Fannie in Funny Girl. This particular audition was one that she had been preparing for since she was five years old.
I think I’m going through something like that right now.
I wrote a movie…and it’s actually being produced.
I felt exhilarated when my first short story was published, but that is nothing compared to what I’m feeling now; watching these crazy characters that only existed in my head come to life. Characters that I created from a blank page with blinking cursor stood before me. It really is like a dream come true.
And it is a movie I NEVER thought I would write. A Bajan ghetto comedy? Really? Me? When the director first came to me and asked me to write this screenplay, I accepted because it was a challenge. I did my research, went into the communities, watched movies like Friday etc.
I had never even written comedy on purpose. However, one of the things I observed was that audiences would laugh at my writing, even when I didn’t intend for it, and was addressing a serious matter.
I didn’t have to try hard. Bajans are naturally funny. I didn’t need to exaggerate…all I needed to do was create characters, and put them in uncommon situations. I even pulled real-life events that happened to me…you know, everyone has those stories that they recite to every new individual in their life. “You won’t believe what happened when…That reminds me of a time when…”
Ninety pages later I had completed my first feature length film. You know something is funny when you burst out laughing when re-reading a page, or shake your head and say “These people so foolish…who are they?!” When the characters sort of take control of the script, as if to say, “Look I don’t like where this thing going, gimme that pen out you hand”.
And I did try to force some themes that just didn’t have a place in the story…tried to edit some of the cussing and the language in fear of offending, but then it just didn’t feel real, and the story lost of the authenticity.
I was sceptical about the entire movie production process. I had been in the position many times before when someone showed interest in the script, and then nothing ever came to fruition.
That changed when my two lead actors walked in for a photoshoot. In my head I thought “Oh my God, it is Romie and Pack!”
It is a surreal feeling, and every time I think “It can’t get any better than this”, it does!
And it is the small things – whenever an actor responds to their character name when I call it or watching other people call them by their character name. Soon, their birth name is forgotten.
During a reading of the script, the actors started arguing about what their character would/would not do. And this wasn’t a civil discussion…this was a passionate argument, with actors on their feet, all yelling at once, explaining why their character would not do x if y had to happen.
I just sat and smiled while watching the actors try to outdo each other.
Romie and Pack on set
The characters were just as real to them as they were to me.
The actors created their own back-story where they were holes. They added their own quirks to the characters, making them even more hilarious.
I watched scenes play out in my head as I had written them and others that persons totally misinterpreted. But that was ok, because I realised the scenes could be even better than I intended.
Soon everyone will be able to see these personalities on screen, and I hope you love them just as much as I do.
Now that I have gotten all of this emotion out, I’m going to go and finish watching Glee. I will rewind the video and sing along with Rachel at the top of my voice.
As you can imagine, I have a lot to say about the entire screenwriting and filmmaking process. Next blog post in this series: Things you don’t think about when writing a script in the Caribbean.
About Payday the Movie:
Romie, an aspiring mechanic and ladies man, with his brutally honest best friend Pack, invest their entire salaries in a down-payment on a garage. Their goal: to establish a successful mechanic’s shop to get away from their boring jobs as security guards, their eccentric and loving but demanding families, and poor standard of living in their village, Pickletons. Their simple task of making the down-payment to the garage owner at the village lime that night is hilariously complicated by Romie’s love-life, and Pack’s love for cannabis. The complications and laughs multiply as the best friends go to extremes to avoid violent drug men, a charity collector, crazy ex-girlfriends and other wacky villagers.
Let’s Do This Filmz intends to produce movies in all genres, from comedy to horror, and already has an eclectic catalogue of quality movie scripts awaiting development, all with the primary goal of moving local stories from the mouth to the screen.