Monday, July 4, 2011

Cold Fried Chicken: Short Screenplays and My Rocket House Days 2

The Forward

And again, at the risk of sounding like a barfly, my brief career as a screenwriter began in a bar. In a bar. I feel like most writers for the screen study the form in school and then tirelessly market themselves and their work with query letters and anxiety.
My story is not so arduous. I was drinking gin and tonic and talking to my good friend Gio. Gio was drinking shots of Jim Beam and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I illustrate the drinks here only because what we decided to do was during the fifth or sixth round once we were sauced.
Gio had done some writing, good stuff too, in a web series called Pond Patrol. The series went on weekly for two years and gained so much support that it was bittersweet for him to end it. The end of Pond Patrol, Gio decided, was to put the celebration in the hands of his readers and fans. Since Pond Patrol was a far flung story of giant turtles and soldiers which Gio used GI Joe dolls as models, his audience was just as varied: turtle herders, GI Joe collectors, and readers of science fiction.
Gio opened up the Pond Patrol site as a stop-motion animation film festival party. The submissions came in like an avalanche. Gio, photographer/writer became a film curator. Thus was born The GI Joe Stop-motion Animation Film Festival.
It would take a few years yet for Rocket House Studio to be born. And it would take years for that one night in the bar when the two of us would discuss screenplays, dramatic structure and dialogue as a concept for a medium which up to then relied solely on action.
It's Belgium, 1945,” Gio said. “Two men in a foxhole.”
Okay,” I said. “You have a set?”
Yeah,” he said.
What's the story?”
One brings a sandwich and won't share it with the other guy. Then when the gas comes, the second guy won't share the gas mask.” Gio began to laugh.
I don't get it,” I said.
The guy packed a lunch in his mask carrier.”
Oh, see,” I said. He laughed. I got it, but not why it was funny. “Interesting concept.”
Yeah, come over, you got Friday off?” he asked. I nodded. “Come over Friday and we can write it.”
Yeah, okay,” I said. I worked on the next gin and tonic. This was March of 2009. I had just graduated form Goddard College and I was actively pursuing novel writing. This project Gio was suggesting was outside of anything I had ever done before. “I don't think it's a funny premise,” I said. “We need something more.”
What we needed, I would find completely by chance. What I needed we all found completely by chance.

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