I just re-read draft 3 of “The Pink House” (keep in mind that the shooting script was draft eleven) and I was struck by how indisputably over-written it is. I mean, people ramble on in lugubrious endlessness until you want them to shut the fuck up already. And this was in draft 3! I’m so lucky to have had some great Carolina grads in the first reading that night in August 1999 they applauded at the end, and everyone left with the feeling that I was on to something. Little did I know I was ten more drafts away from something remotely digestable.
What strikes me are the passages that actually made it from the first drafts all the way though the complaining, the editing, the fighting, the input from producers and actors, the self-censoring, the I’m-starting-this-damn-thing-over-from-scratch, the offline editing all the way to now. Little stretches still survive, like those eerily casual, conversational patches that slip out of the Middle English of “The Canterbury Tales.” Not that “The Pink House” compares with The Wife of Bath’s Tale or anything, but it’s still interesting to act as your own literary paleontologist.
Making a movie teaches you immediate humility, and if it doesn’t, you shouldn’t be making any more movies. If someone reads something and they don’t get it, it’s not their fault, it’s yours. My advice for would-be screenwriters is to give your screenplay to the simplest person you know, then take their criticism very seriously. The things I learned from people I half-respected Jesus, I could write a novella.
As I write this, Sean is filming Dani’s movie underground at the end of the F line, 179th St. in Queens. I’m mindful of how our shoot had the incredible advantage of a bit more money, which solves almost every problem in a movie production. Dani is definitely doing it lo-fi, using a PD-150 (which I call the Volkscamera) and most likely looping all of his sound later. I think he’s a bit of a crooked genius, and his social skills remind me of Jay Murray he has long since realized that he is known for taking advantage of his friends, so he stopped being sensitive or disingenuous about it, and just plowed ahead with his agenda. I think it’s actually an honest way to live, really; you know what you’re getting with both Dani and Jay, and after rough patches, I’ve come to respect them both. When Jay asked Scott Bullock to buy him three hamburgers at McDonald’s, Scott was so flabbergasted that I think he actually did it. The world is a commune