04 June 2014

The December Script

Even though for all intents and purposes I stopped caring about politics a few years ago -- only thing that seems to matter now (which the Supreme Court backed up) is how much money you have rolling into your pockets -- I still keep a view from the sidelines.  Besides, you've gotta know what's going on in the macro in order to have something to chat about in the micro. 

The thing is, politic debate in the U.S. is just too much of a "I'm more right than you" argument and has little to do with making persuasive points and counterpoints.  Over the last two decades, the best accord between the right and left has been this:

And to be honest, I've gotten just about about enough abortions and miniature American flags as I care to get.

Okay: if you're still with me after that, I'll demonstrate another aspect of politics most seem to ignore (at least on their side of the proverbial aisle):  hypocrisy.

While my interest in politics as dwindled, I'm still fascinated by politicians.  Not all, of course, but some.  Especially those who tried to make a difference and failed or those who did nothing yet still got re-elected for years or those who have faded from memory and have gotten lost in the annals of history.

Anyone know who this guy is?
I have books and pages of research about John Tyler.  His biggest distinction in history is being the first vice president to become president following the death of his predecessor.  He was also (almost solely) responsible for annexing Texas.  And that's the main plotline of my script idea for Tyler -- it'd be like Lincoln and its focus on the 13th Amendment.  For the most part, though, his term in office was just a blip on the presidential timeline.  Even during the 1840 presidential campaign, the slogan used by his party was "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too."  Even as a running mate, the guy was an afterthought.  And that's really what draws me to the man.  Plus, he was still pretty randy in his old age, having fathered four children in his 60s.  In fact, as far as I'm aware, he's got two living grandsons.  A man born in 1790 has grandchildren alive in 2014.  Three generations of Tyler's family have lived through every president the U.S. has had.  I know I'm hammering away at that, but it's just astounding trivia.  I mean, my grandparents were born in the 1930s and there's no way any of their grandkids (me included) are gonna make it to 2154.  

And that was quite the tangent...

Moving on:  Tyler -- and he's probably used to it -- is beside the point I'm heading for.

I've been struggling with what to write for the last quarter of the 12 in 12.  I have ideas, but none that are really sticking to me.  Plus, I'm feeling incredibly drained having written four feature scripts already this year (though only three for the 12 in 12).  Pre-2014 I'd written six.  And on top of that, three of the scripts I've written this year feel really good, only two or three more passes away from being very good to great scripts.  But the majority of my writing time is centered on writing the next 12 in 12 script.

Nevertheless, onward ho! is the battle cry.  Until I actually cry.

I'm realizing that this is just going on and on and I have yet to reach the point of this post:  The 12 in 12 December script.

I'll be writing about a politician.  I've read a bit about him and have a few biographies to read through, but despite the research, I think I should be prepared to hit the script running come December.  So here's the title page (in Final Draft, though I may have switched to Fade In by then):

I'm sure there's a better title out there,
but this tells you pretty much everything you need to know.
Paul Wellstone might not be as well-known around the U.S. as he is in Minnesota -- we have many a building named for him and his wife
Sheila -- but he's the kind of politician we don't see much of nowadays.

Even if you disagreed with his ideology (he was a liberal Democrat), you couldn't deny his passion and commitment.  He was a force to be reckoned with because he couldn't be persuaded by any means outside of reason and logic.  Here are two quotes  of his that powerfully and succinctly sum up why I admire this man:
"Politics is not just about power and money games, politics is about the improvement of peoples lives, about lessening human suffering in our world and bringing about more peace and justice."

“If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at  some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them."

Honestly, who takes stances like that these days?  Who says anything like that anymore?

Maybe it's a kind of hero-worshipping, but Paul Wellstone was a politician and human being worth striving to emulate.  He cared and he did his job, even if he stood alone.  And who knows what he could've done had he won re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2002.  And probably would've won had he -- along with his wife and daughter and five other -- not died in a plane crash 11 days before the election.

There's more to Wellstone, though, than his death.  But dying young
The Paul Wellstone Memorial near Eveleth, Minnesota.
or tragically does add to a legacy.  I'm not sure if that'll be in the script (it'll be mentioned, but I don't know if it'll be a part of the story or text at the end -- a bio-pic cliche, I know, but it is what it is) because he did a lot more before then.  And I'd hate to write a script about someone where the obvious ending is the one used -- which is one reason I cringe at the end of Lincoln.

As it is now, I've got a lot of reading to do, maybe set up some interviews with people who know him, and dive into whatever other research comes up.  And I know I say this about every script before I write it, but I'm excited about tackling this.  It'll be the first time I write a script based fully on true events instead of just the little piece or detail that springboards me into a semi-unconnected story.

I think the only problem I'll have is altering events/situations in order to up the drama.  I know that's the norm since otherwise you're making a documentary, but if someone's life is inherently dramatic and interesting why change things?  But then I think about Paul Wellstone and realize:  Sometimes you need to change things to make the world better.  Although I'm sure he wasn't including screenplays about his life when saying things like that...

Great job, man, comparing improving the world to writing a script.
Yeah, that'll get you new friends...

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