The Pfister Films: SOMETHING OLD

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016

SOMETHING OLD is the title of today’s film, number three in my four-film mini-fest. I will explain how this film came to be in a short spell, but first I would like to lay out for you all the compelling reasons why the final cut of this film may result in the discovery of my cold and dead body floating face down in a swimming pool in a sort of noirish SUNSET BOULEVARD plot twist.

The process of getting to the cut of SOMETHING OLD you will see in a minute is a perfect example of a writer’s never ending quest to not put crummy writing out in the world. I love to write, but what I really, really love to do is rewrite. I love rewriting so much that I’m never afraid to “kill my darlings”, the process of editing away bits of prose that might seem really clever and brilliant on a first pass, but with distance and reflection seem to do disservice to a story. I have killed many darlings over the years, and in the case of SOMETHING OLD I took the unprecedented step of leaving my own sainted mother on the cutting room floor.

What I thought was my final version of the script for SOMETHING OLD included a final, brief scene between the main character, Pamela, and a sweet woman she runs into. I wrote the role of the sweet woman and realized as I read it over and over again that my very own mother would be perfect for the role. So, I texted mom (my mom is quite handy at sending texts) and asked her to act in my movie. Like a trooper, my Mom learned her lines overnight, showed up early for her scene, didn’t bump into any of the furniture, and really nailed the part.

I walked away from filming that scene with my mom and felt we had it in the bag. Then I sat down to edit the film and watched the scene a few times. I could sense something wasn’t right. My mom and Katherine Duffy, the talented young lady playing Pamela, did great work with what they were given in the scene. That is to say, they elevated the material. What is all the more admirable about that elevation is that they did it with a stinky part of the script. That’s right, I wrote a real dog of a scene, and I realized as I watched it repeatedly that it had to go.

So, I did what any malcontent writer does. I rewrote. And then I rewrote again. And finally I rewrote some more. And while I was doing all that tinkering my mother hopped on an airplane and flew to London. As mom was having tea with the royals, I was recasting her in this short film. There are about 59 layers of guilt built into my decision to recast my mother while she was far away on another continent, let me tell you.

But now the film seems right to me. The rewrite makes a lot of sense to the whole story arch. It’s quirky and goofy and tinged with melancholy. It’s exactly the feeling I had when I encountered the young woman in the lobby lounge who inspired the story behind SOMETHING OLD. I hope you enjoy giving this a view. It was a rare treat to make…expect that part about kicking my mom to the curb, of course.

Follow me on Twitter @jonathantwest for more smart remarks and snappy retorts.

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