Refried Ideas; or the Montage Scene.

I began writing scripts with the movie version of “Gibbers.” I clearly and distinctly remember sitting on the couch at Jim’s house after going to see the movie National Treasure. I had already written the main outline to the Gibbers movie, but something about National Treasure gave me a focus. Something about treasure hunting enthralled me, and I loved the setup of the smart lead, his tough love interest, and his wacky sidekick buddy. That’s how the three main characters of the Gibbers movie (Justin, Ruby, and Jesse) ended up being the focus instead of background characters, as they had long been in the comics I’d been drawing.

Jim and I wrote that first draft in one night, I think. I was so ready to just go out and film, I didn’t understand what it meant to do rewrites. I thought rewrites were just fixing the grammar and spelling errors. I learned. Quick.

It’s funny reading all my stuff I’ve written since then in order. I have a habit of reusing some of that older material again and again in hopes that we can eventually use it. The one scene that comes to mind most frequently is a scene that I always loved and wanted to do: a searching montage.

It was covered in the first draft of Gibbers like this, verbatim:

“(Several shots of Ruby & Justin asking people if they’ve seen Chris. They use a pic of SERB. Many of these shots are short sequences w/guest appearances by characters. Make up these scenes later. They come up negative.)”

There was no music meant to be included, I think. Mostly it was intended to be dialog. I got only a few pages into the second draft of Gibbers before I realized what a rewrite was and that things needed changing to make more logical sense. In the third draft, the scene is written as so:

“(Jesse turns on the radio.)

ANNOUNCER: And this is the Del Shannon classic, ‘Runaway!’

(Runaway begins. Insert sequences here as Ruby & Justin ask several people if they’ve seen Slanted Eyes Rice Boy. When they come up empty-handed, they are seen walking down the street.)”

And of course the intention there was to actually use the original Del Shannon version. So I’d found a song, but I kept thinking there could be a better version. Something with some more “kick.” While I searched, I wrote the draft that took the longest time – the fifth draft, which actually fills two notebook (one has the main script, the other additional scenes and modified versions of scenes. The fifth draft version, marked as scene 116 (I was learning to organize the movie by acts and scenes) reads like this:

“(Jesse turns on the radio.)

ANNOUNCER: And here is one of my grandma’s least favorite songs. This is for you grandma! Del Shannon’s Runaway!

(Transition. Runaway. Montage. Justin and Ruby ask the people of the town if they’ve seen SERB. The only answer thye get is no. After the montage, Justin and Ruby are left sitting on a bench. Justin gets up and paces.)”

The sixth and final draft, written to finalize the story after it had pretty much been decided we weren’t goint to film it, was similar. By that point I had found a version of Runaway instead by country music artist Gary Allen with that little extra kick I always wanted. After a year of other videos and script ideas, we did A Day In Hot Springs, which led to the scripting of the other six episodes in the “Week In Hot Springs” series.

We filmed some of the Paradox scenes prior to the script actually being completed, but as I worked out the story, I knew the Gumpmobile was going to get stolen in the first scene, and then a couple scenes later be destroyed. The question was how to transition from one point to another. Back to Gibbers!

The original shooting script for Paradox has this:

“(They both stand up and start walking down the road to town. Fade into a montage in which Jim and Jesse go around town, presenting every passerby with a crudely drawn picture of the Gumpmobile. Of course, no one has, and as they near the end of their search, both begin to get desperate. At the end of the montage, cut back out to Cold Brook, as Jim and Jesse walk up to another outhouse.)”

Of course, we never finished Paradox, or the Week In Hot Springs, but just prior to beginning the Adventures in Hot Springs shorts, I began piecing all of whatever I had from the WIHS together. The only scene from the first part of Paradox I was missing was this. So I called up Gump, and called up Jim and we did finally shoot it. Between the first draft of Gibbers, written in November 2004, and the actual completion of the scene, in July 2009, nearly five years had passed.

Sitting back and watching that scene play out, has probably been the highlight of my experience making short films. It turned out funnier than I ever imagined. I think of all videos I’ve made, even though I really like Kazoo Hero, this one is the one I’m truly most proud of. After all, it’s been with me from the start.

2015 Edit: Well… nobody reads these, but we ended up incorporating this in Jamie Klotz’s Diary 1. Who knew?!

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