Friday, November 5, 2010

Of Boys And Men

In October 2007, I was lucky enough to attend IFPChicago's Filmmaker Summit at Columbia College in Chicago. It was a wonderful weekend of panel discussions, film screenings, and networking opportunities. My friend, Madelon, accompanied me throughout the weekend. Two of the opportunities which presented themselves during the weekend were chances to sit down with two talented women. The first was Laurel Ward, Director Of Development for Ocean Pictures. The second was screenwriter, Michelle Amor. With Laurel, I had a chance to pitch an actual movie idea to her with the possibility of having her interested enough to request I send her the screenplay for production consideration. With Michelle, I was afforded the ability to ask any questions about the screenwriting craft, life, and process. With both women, I had less than ten minutes to either dazzle or ask as many questions as possible. Since that day, I have remained friends with Michelle. In fact, I always wanted to send her a script to read, but as she is a professional writer, I was afraid she would tell me I was not good. I was worried she would tell me I better find a different line of work. So when the time came to send her one of my scripts, I chose to give her a copy of my autobiographical theater piece, In The Dark. After all, it is my most successful piece to date and the one which evokes a response like no other. Well, maybe Touch Of Rain is a close second considering the passionate responses audience members have had of that piece. I knew that it would probably take a week or longer for Michelle to respond so I was floored, scared, and excited when she provided me feedback within hours. She told me she had planned to put my piece through her First Line test. Over the years of reading screenplays, Michelle had learned that if the script did not draw her in with the first line, odds were that it would never draw her in. Scripts do not suddenly get great. Writers do not suddenly become talented. She read the first line of my play and Michelle was instantly drawn in and ended up reading the entire script right then. She called it one of the best scripts she had read in quite some time. I was stunned. She kept praising me and my talent. I could not believe she was talking about me. Over the years, Michele has been a wonderful friend, resource, and mentor to me. What I love about my friendship with Michelle is that she and I will talk to simply shoot the breeze, but in that conversation, she may relay a story or say something about her day and I can always take that as a nugget of wisdom which I can then apply to my life and screenwriting. Even if she never intended the story or comment to be applicable to screenwriting, it can be.

I am most excited that Michelle's first full length narrative feature, Of Boys And Men, which stars Robert Townsend and Angela Bassett is being distributed for release by Warner Bros Home Video on January 26, 2011. It is a beautiful powerful story which has been screened at different festivals. I first saw a couple scenes when attending the Filmmakers Summit where I attended a panel discussion about the film of which Michelle was a part. It is a film all should watch. I know I will be purchasing a copy. Maybe I will convince Michelle to personalize my copy with her autograph.

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