And I have been very pleased with the feedback from WILDsound; in fact, it inspired a reworking of the entire screenplay. And I think it is much stronger as a result.
– Writer George Flowers
Watch STILL IN THE GAME by George Flowers:
NARRATOR – Susan Wilson
Barkley – Allan Michael Brunet
Mel – Dan Fox
Hooker – Pip Dwyer
Kelly – Dan Cristofori
Prostitute – Christina Aceto
Karen – Krista Morin
Matthew Toffolo interviews George Flowers:
What is your screenplay about?
In short, STILL IN THE GAME is about two American men – one a 75-year-old comic, and the other a 78-year-old salesman – who reject the notion that retirement means that life’s productive period is over. Baseball great Yogi Berra’s famous quote: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” captures their spirit well, as they strive to milk every last drop of fun and adventure out of their remaining years (months, weeks, days).
Why should this script be made into a movie?
It’s hard to find a comedy today that is not laced with sexual and other profanities. I tried to lace this screenplay with comedy, and spice it with a slightly racy subtext (Barkley’s desire to have sexual relations with young women) and some occasional risqué moments. [By the way, he never has sex with young women (he’s a dreamer, which is why the script opens with a dream sequence]; later in the film, he has an opportunity to have a sexual tryst with a young woman, and he rejects her, later explaining to a friend: “I’ve had milk older than she is.”]
How long have you been writing stories?
I’ve been writing articles on show business, travel and food, as well as news stories and commercials for broadcast, for many years. I’ve been writing screenplays for about five years. In 1977, I wrote a manuscript for a novel; it was never published, although at one point it was being considered for an “ABC Movie of the Week.”
What movie have you seen the most in your life?
“Blazing Saddles.” Easily a dozen times over the years. But I gravitate to most anything Mel Brooks as often as possible.
What artists would you love to work with?
To work with, period! –
Jack Nicholson: An extraordinary talent who milks every drop out of every line, and always manages to steal the scene.
Morgan Freeman: He brings depth to his performances that I rarely see from today’s young crop of actors. He’s a class act, who never overacts, is smooth, and is always absolutely believable.
Sean Penn: I believe that Penn is what James Dean would have become, had he lived – a gifted, emotionally explosive presence in Hollywood – on-screen, as a writer, and as a director. He has matured wonderfully since the ‘80s.
Meryl Streep: She is versatile and just amazingly in-touch with the characters she plays – that is, she becomes so genuinely the person she is playing that she appears just to be living her life, and we are bystanders.
Anthony Hopkins: He is a magnificent actor, skilled in his craft in much the same way that Brando and Olivier were.
To work with in the role of Barkley –
I would love to have worked with Walter Matthau; in fact, the Barkley character was created as an homage or sorts to him. Matthau was a superb actor, who moved effortlessly between dramatic and comedic roles, although I feel his comedic work was his best. Others who could have played him are Leslie Nielsen and Jack Klugman. Elliot Gould could possibly play him today. I could easily see Jerry Stiller playing Barkley, too, although he’s too old for the part.
6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?
Screenplays: Six (STILL IN THE GAME is my first). Stories (articles and news stories, mostly): Thousands (I’ve written about a thousand articles in the last 25 years; news stories: countless (I’m a broadcast journalist); commercials, many hundreds over the years for radio and television.
7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
In my 30s again (I’m 68).
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
I come up with a screenplay idea, and write about it (stream of consciousness) for a while, just to see where it goes. If it feels like a promising beginning – if the concept feels good, and the characters feel rich, I then write what I feel will be the last few scenes (on the belief that I have to know where I’m going in order to get there); the ending isn’t cast in stone – it may change, but at least I can plot a course and travel it.
Regarding character development, I have a lengthy interview process, where I interview myself as each major character. I need to know their life experiences: where they came from, what their parents did, what influenced them (positively and negatively). I write a sort of bible on each character. In a screenplay, we meet every character mid-life, and where they came from determines how and where they go forward.
I don’t have a set writing routine; the creative process respects no rules. When the juices are flowing, the fingers must be typing, and keep typing until the flow ends.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Eliminating injustice, doing away with racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and xenophobia, and counteracting climate change before it’s too late. (In other words, I want to be Miss America.) But they’re all true. I majored in psychology in college, and one of my professor’s used the term “generativity” to mean leaving the world a better place for those who follow. That is what I am passionate about!
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival? Did you enjoy the feedback you received?
I read the festival’s information on Film Freeway, and it sounded intriguing – and manageable: just the screenplay’s first ten pages; we’re not analyzing character development, arcs and plot resolutions – just the first few pages to see if viewers would get hooked. Nice!
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
There’s a story I tell when I speak with young writers; I’m not certain that it’s true, but its message certainly is. Allegedly, Earnest Hemmingway was scheduled to speak before an assembly of aspiring writers at a major university. Hundreds of students sat in the auditorium with pencils in-hand, waiting for the great Hemmingway to share his secrets for writing the great American novel. The author is said to have walked onto the stage, taken his place at the lectern, and paused for more than a few moments, just looking out at those assembled. When he spoke, he was short and to the point. He reportedly said: “So … you all want to be writers, eh? Then what the hell are you doing here? Why aren’t you home writing?” – and then he walked off the stage. There’s no substitute for exercising your creative muscles. Use them, or lose them. And best of luck to all of us.
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