Watch the November 2016 winning best scene screenplay.
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Separated from his wife Barbara in the nursing home in which they live, Stuart White befriends Rob Jefferies, a new resident. Soon their friendship turns into more and Stu and Rob become romantically involved.
Get to know the winning writer:
What is your screenplay about?
It’s about two elderly men who live in a nursing home and who fall in love with each other. One is a widower, and the other’s wife has dementia. Their families have very mixed reactions to the love affair. It’s also about issues of aging and how that affects love and sex.
What genres does your screenplay under?
Probably comedy, but it has dramatic elements. I suppose it could also be called a drama with comedic elements. Is there a category called a funny drama?
Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
It’s a timely issue. With the LGBT movement and people feeling a freedom to be themselves at any age, situations like this will become more commonplace. A significant part of the story is how the families react to what the men are doing. Regardless of how a person feels about this issue, most of us have a family member or friend who is part of the LGBT community, whether or not we know it.
How would you describe this script in two words?
Entertainingly thought-provoking. (Is that two?)
What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
Interesting question. Growing up, it would have been “Gone With the Wind,” as that was my parents’ favorite film. Back then it was still being released theatrically from time to time, and our family always went to see it. And I still enjoy watching the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which remains touching, but not sappy, no matter how many times you watch it. I have a weakness for old classics. With no overt sex or violence, there had to be a good script, good direction, and good acting to keep an audience’s attention. My children, like most children, watched the same movies over and over when they were young. I thought my son would never tire of “Nightmare Before Christmas.” For the girls, it was “Twister,” “I’ll Fly Away,” and “Watcher in the Woods.” Those four films were constantly playing at our house. Remember, those were their choices, not mine.
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I probably worked on it for over a year, but I’d put it away for long periods of time. I have a bad habit of starting something, but not finishing. For some reason, I felt a need to finish this one.
How many stories have you written?
Does that mean finished? I have several other finished screenplays, maybe three, but this is the first one I’ve entered in a contest. I began writing short stories as a child and wrote a short play in middle school. I have a book that was completed years ago. I recently dug it up and began editing and rewriting. I also have another collection of writings I hope to one day put in book form. And I have a number of projects, including a couple of plays, that were begun but remain unfinished.
What motivated you to write this screenplay?
I felt it was a timely and important topic to address. In another generation situations like this will not be uncommon. This isn’t just a gay story, it’s also about aging, which is universal if we live long enough. But so much has changed since I wrote the screenplay. Gay marriage was not yet legal, and I was totally unaware of the Netflix television series, “Grace and Frankie” with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The first time I saw that show, which was long after my screenplay was finished, I thought “They stole my idea!” Actually, it’s different in many ways because the focus in the TV show is the wives and the divorces and how the women are coping with the loss of their marriages. The situation is totally different in my screenplay, where the focus is on the men. The only real similarity is that two older men fall in love. How many love stories have been made into films during the past 100 years? This is just one more.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I work full-time, I’m married, and my children, while young adults, still need time and attention. We live in the country and have animals, so finding time and motivation is always an obstacle for me.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I act in local community theatre productions, which I do about once a year. Theatre, even community theatre, takes a lot of time, and my work schedule generally won’t allow more than one production a year. I also enjoy spending time with family and trying to keep up with everything around the farm.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
If you feel called to write, then just write. Don’t worry about having that perfect topic. Don’t worry about having that perfect character or perfect storyline. There’s a theory of writing called free writing, You sit down and begin writing, even if you have absolutely nothing to say. You just write, one word after another, one sentence after another. Before long, you’ll find a story. Or maybe a story will find you.
I tend to write from a character point of view, but I like it best when my ending pops into my head early on. I may not know the route my character will take to arrive at that ending, but I like knowing the final destination. This motivates me and give me a sense of purpose. I don’t always write this way, as sometimes I have no idea of the ending until we get there. For me, once I have created the character, then he or she will simply live, and all I have to do is write down what’s happening.
I don’t do it, but my personal goal is to become more disciplined and to write something everyday. My son, who also writes, encourages me to do this, to write a paragraph (or equivalent) every day. I absolutely agree with this, but I just don’t do it. I guess I should make this another New Year’s resolution that I won’t keep, like going to the gym and eating Brussels sprouts.
My advice for writers can be summed up in three words: write, write, write.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson