by Rebecca Kilroy, TWC Intern
As a writer, I appreciate unbelievable stories, and the story of how I saw something I wrote turned into a film is certainly that. It started this past summer when I was interning at The Writers Circle’s Summer Intensive. Every Wednesday of those weeks would be a special event, usually a field trip, so the writers could go forth and find inspiration. One week, everyone met up at SOPAC for a lesson in playwriting. For this, we had two actors (Darin Frank Earl II and Liz Grosinger Samuel) more or less at our disposal to act out our writing throughout the day. This culminated in each student writer having about an hour-and-a-half to write a three to five-minute script which they gave to Darin and Liz to cold read.
Beyond my high school’s drama club and two screenwriting classes, I’m not familiar with theater. But, seeing as I was there, I’d go for it. Three to five minutes is a little tough to fit a tragedy, so I’d write a comedy. In it, a PTO mom and a hipster battle for the last avocado in an organic market. Darin and Liz did a tremendous job, especially with no preparation and no props (this led to a dramatic mimed grapple for an invisible avocado). It was a great day, but I assumed afterwards that my script would gather metaphorical dust in the drafts folder of my computer. The next day I was shocked to learn that the actors liked my script so much, they wanted to make it into a short film.
Over the fall, I emailed back and forth with Darin and Liz. They’d send me occasional bursts of good news (We found a director! We have a place to film!). A part of me still refused to believe professional actors and a production crew would film my script. Then last Monday, I got an email: We’re filming tomorrow morning; come if you’re free. Despite it being a school morning, I decided this was more important than Calculus, and still in mild disbelief, I went to watch.
When I knocked on the door of Montclair Farms market, I probably looked like a confused customer who hadn’t read the “Closed for Filming” sign. But when a member of the production team answered the door, I got to say, “I’m the writer.” They immediately brought me in. I got to see Darin and Liz for the first time since the summer workshop, and I met, in quick succession, the director, cameraman and sound editor.
“All right, make it good,” the director announced. “The writer’s here.”
Sitting and watching the filming was surreal. Darin and Liz embodied the characters perfectly. I remember back at our Wednesday workshop, what amazed me the most was watching the actors become the characters. Here it was on a grander scale. They adapted different voices and gestures. Not to mention the costumes, which captured the uniforms of hipsters and PTO moms everywhere (a flannel shirt for one, a cardigan and scarf for the other). And despite having written the script months ago, I felt connected to what I watched. The most incredible moment for me would be when the director paused to consult the script, and I realized it was my work he was holding.
The filming was also a learning experience. I’d never imagined the minute details that went into a film. We spent nearly twenty minutes capturing the back and forth pull of the avocado. The perfect avocado drop took three tries. Yes, some avocados were harmed in the making of this film. In the final drop, the peel didn’t so much split as explode. Hunks of avocado splattered the floor. Of course, everyone in the room started cheering. The director and cameraman were especially thrilled. As Darin and Liz offered to clean bits of avocado off the tile, the director insisted it would be the perfect backdrop to roll credits over. The poor avocado mush got its own thirty seconds of screen time.
This summer, as I drove through the rain in my Summer Intensive shirt to get to SOPAC on time, it never crossed my mind that the people I met and the script I wrote that day would come together nearly five months later. Now, the film is being edited. Once it’s done, I’ll have a link to share with my family and shamelessly promote to my friends. Not to mention the unbelievable story of how a script I wrote for fun became a film I’m so proud of.
Photo: Director Danny Monico, Actor Liz Grosinger Samuel, Writer Rebecca Kilroy, and Actor Darin Frank Earl II at Montclair Farms