The Short's Happy Life

Some nice news: a short (19-minute) film I wrote, The Hemingway Night, has been invited to the Palm Springs International Film Festival (June 23-29, 2009). It was directed by my good friend Gary Mairs, who teaches film at CalArts in Valencia, CA; it was also Gary’s idea that I turn this blog post into a script.

I can’t say I have much objectivity left about the script or the film, and I’ve even become removed from the underlying events by the mere passage of time. It was still a shock to hear that more than one person finds the characters “unpleasant,” especially since the one dubbed “Terry” is practically a hologram of myself in my twenties. Also, once an initial outburst of energy had passed through my system, it wasn’t at all an easy task to write the damn thing, to the point where I couldn’t find a satisfactory ending until, literally, the last day I had to work on it. (And even then it just came to me, was there in my head when I woke up that morning, and I had to scramble to the computer to get it down before it evaporated.) That’s not the best way of writing anything, but Gary and the actors, Jan Johnson and Dave Nordstrom, put the script through some intense rehearsals and did a great job of papering over its rough patches. Gary and Jan are also responsible for my favorite thing in the film: the two or three oh-shit closeups of Jan’s character, Leon, glowering from behind his glasses, and doing a long, slow boil over his broken marriage. Together they provide a pretty hairy view of a man who’s been stewing in his juices too long.

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