I start writing screenplays (Part I)


I first started developing screenplay scripts for my “Do Ask, Do Tell” material in 2002 while still in Minneapolis, shortly after my “career change” had started with “The Layoff”.  I often attended a screenwriting seminar in a local college building on Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, where we did table readings for some of our materials.  Some scripts got selected for formal table readings, as at the Jungle Theater near Lyndale and Lake St., or sometimes in one of the theater auditoriums in Block E on Marquette.

I did get one “film” shown at the Flaming Film Festival in May, 2002, shot on a Sony Camcorder.  It was called “Air Raid” or, alternatively, “Bill’s Clips”, and runs about six minutes.  The simplest way to present the films is to give the first link, here   all the way through “airraid4.mpg” and also “plane2.mpg”.  The idea is that someone is walking on the streets near the University of Minnesota campus when an apparent enemy attack starts.  Post 9/11, it was pretty effective.  The festival was sponsored by Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis (on Lyndale)

Once I came back to Arlington VA, I took at least two adult education classes in screenwriting offered by the public school system (small tuition), taught by Carolyn Perry.  I started renting films from Netflix, and the very first film I watched this way was “In Praise of Love” (“Eloge de l’amour”, 2001), a New Wave film in two parts by Jean-Luc Godard. It’s interesting because of its birfurcated, two-part structure, black-and-white and then color, the second part occurring before the first (as opposed to “beginning, middle and end” in conventional screenplays). The film is meta-styled and layered, about an author’s making a film about several couples, including a particular person with connections to the past connections to the resistance in Vichy France.  It seems scattered rather than tightly focused, and that’s an idea that comes back in my own work.

I’ll add that on a cold Saturday in early 2002, I tried out for a part in the short film “The Retreat“, by Darin Heinis, in which some allied soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge encounter ghosts of Germans, and other supernatural artifacts.  I almost got a part of one of the Nazi ghosts.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  I would eventually see the film at Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis at an IFPMSP monthly screening party.

This train of thought, regarding my scripts, will continued soon.

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2014 PM 4:50 PM


Filmmakers often explore the problem of underage relationships, especially in smaller movies


The issue of adults being (often wrongfully) perceived and accused for intimate involvement with minors comes up quite often in film.  I’ll cover a few of the major films here, setting up a later blog posting about another incident when I was substitute teaching.  I cover many of these films on one particular page, here.  See related posting here Feb. 13, 2014 on a controversial NBC Dateline series.

The most important of these films is probably “Student Seduction” (2003), a film from Lionsgate and usually aired on Lifetime, directed by Peter Svartek.  I saw it on cable the day after had started subbing on 2004.  The film presents a married female chemistry teacher, who makes the mistake of tutoring a high school male and then accepting help starting her car from him, and having a snack in a restaurant.  When he comes on to her and rapes her at school, she is accused of inappropriate behavior with an underage minor and prosecuted, and the boy’s wealthy parents keep the charges on.  It makes teaching look like a risky job.

One of the most important foreign films in this area is “Bad Education” (“La mala educacion”, 2004, Sony Pictures Classics) from Pedro Almodovar.  The film is layered  A young Spaniard presents a screenplay “The Visit” about an earlier episode of possible abuse in the Catholic priesthood.  Enrique uses writing to solve a real life mystery.

Strand will release a BluRay DVD of the 2005 drama “Mysterious Skin”, by Gregg Araki, based on the book by Scott Heim, which tells the story of two victims of a high school coach as they grow up and lives intersect.  One of these is a hustler played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the other is a sensitive kid (Brady Corbet) with an interest in UFO’s.

Frisk” (1999, Strand), by Todd Verow, based on a novel by Dennis Cooper, tells of the graphic crimes of a serial killer, from letters written by someone with the same name as the author, so it could be seen as possibly exploring the odd legal problem of self-libel or implicit content.

The Woodsman” (Mew Market, 2004) by Nicole Kassel, presents Kevin Bacon as going on parole after prison for a crime involving a small girl.

Capturing the Friedmans” (2003, Magnolia) has prosecutors on Long Island going after a family relentlessly for perhaps unfounded accusations of abuse.

Just Ask the Children” (2001) presents an overzealous prosecution of parents in California, where Gregroy Smith plays the grown teenager.  Smith would play in another film, “Kids in America”, about free speech in a high school, a film I would see in an auditorium by myself shortly after my own debacle.

L.I.E.” (“Long Island Expressway‘) , by Michael Cueta, presents a pedophile Brian Cox who has a relationship with a disadvantaged teenager whom he catches trying to burglarize his home.  I saw the film at a screening on Sept. 11, 2001 at the Lagoon Theater, and met the director afterward, who as stranded in Minneapolis for three days because of 9/11.  Later the film would be edited to remove a shot of the old World Trade Center.

Hard Candy” (Lionsgate, 2006) presents Patrick Wilson as a photographer who gets caught in a Dateline-like sting looking for a young girl, but the enforcer is the girl herself, ready for revenge.

Notes on a Scandal” (2006), from the UK presents Judi Dench taking advantage of another women whom she catches with a teen.

In “Whole New Thing” (ThinkFilm, 2006),  a gay English teacher in Nova Scotia develops a platonic relationship with a shy teen, and it is misinterpreted.

Edge of 17” (1999, David Moreton), tells a coming of age of a high school student who falls in love with an older college student in Ohio in 1984.  The title would suggest illegality in some states, however.

Deliver Us from Evil” (2006), by Amy Berg, is a documentary of the coverup of the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church, told through the story of a particular priest in the California Sam Joaquin Valley.

The Country Teacher”  (“Venkovsky ucitel“), by Bohdan Siama (2008), from Czech Television and Film Movement and Netflix, presents a somewhat ungainly young teacher (Pavel Liska) taking a job in a rural high school, living on a farm and getting into an inappropriate relationship with the 17-year-old son (Ladislav Sedivy), which the boy suddenly rejects.  The consequences are not as severe as they would probably be in the US.  But some European countries may have more lenient age standards in this regard than the US and UK do.

Lolita”  has been made twice, once in 1997 by Adrian Lyne for Trimark, with Jeremy Irons, and earlier back in 1962 by Stanley Kubrick in black and white for Columbia, a setting that is somewhat comical.  In the later film, a middle aged man marries his landlady to get to her tween daughter;  in the earlier film, the oaf is a college professor played by James Mason.  It was also made in Germany in 1984.  There was also a TV movie in 1993, “Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story” about Joey Buttafuoco.

Picture: winter, childhood, Arlington VA, about 1948.

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014, about 10:20 PM.