Monday, February 18, 2008

And Then This Happened

“Take this as it's meant .. Did you hit a cat :)” – an email from my sister Agatha.

Thank you everyone, for your patience.

I have made it a priority to keep certain things to myself, such as my last name. “The Writer” serves as a very applicable last name for me, as it’s true, and “Amy The Writer” has a pretty snazzy ring to it, I think.

But why the secrecy? Dunno, I’ve just never felt the urge to unmask myself to the internet. Those of you who need to know it, know it, and that’s enough for me. When you google my real name, the return paints a very strange picture (like, for example, I’m not gay), and I get tired of explaining things over and over again (I don’t have to be gay to write gay themed material.)

Plenty of people find this site by googling other phrases (“Pink Puppy Paw Pads” is a popular one) and I like my privacy, which is why you get pictures of parts of me instead of the whole enchilada (and the fact that the camera flat out doesn’t like me.)

My Paranoid Red Button prevents me from talking about the projects I’m working on (someone will see my logline and write their own version and sell it faster than me because they’re better connected and have no imagination! GACK!) , so if I talk about them on the site, I give them code names, like Purple Monkey.

So I introduce you now to the fabulous duo of Pink Piggy and Striped Tiger.

Pink Piggy is a script I wrote in 2002. I wrote it after a series of merry misadventures in Boy Trouble that left me convinced I was never going to find true love, I was hideous in appearance, and I was never going to learn the lessons of How Not To Be Stupid Around Guys (lessons I’m still not convinced I’ve learned.) I wrote the script for me in a desperate attempt to exorcise the self-hatred demons, since at the time, it sure seemed like guys would rather set their tongue on fire and douse it with lemon juice than go on a date with me.

To be as vague and specific as possible, the plot deals with a girl who discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her birthday, goes to a bar to get drunk with her friends, and hits upon the idea to look up every single guy she’s ever had sex with in the past to get closure from them. Her method of closure is whacked and warped and precisely what prevented me from ever doing anything with the script once I finished it. I couldn’t spec it out, I couldn’t get an agent with it, it’s impossible to come up with a logline for it that wouldn’t make the other person go, “She does WHAT!? WHY!?” I liked the script a lot, but for me, writing it was enough, I didn’t need to do anything more, other than work it through random Writer Groups when I didn’t have any other material to present, and show it to a few other friends of mine. The response was normally positive.

What I was trying to sell during this period was Striped Tiger. Striped Tiger was written before Pink Piggy, (in fact, Pink Piggy was written as an intended thematic sequel to Striped Tiger, with Striped Tiger characters making cameos in Pink Piggy and so on.) Striped Tiger’s plot was based on my first full length play, which featured things like Lady MacBeth’s monologue, phone sex, fun with ice cubes, rules on journal privacy, and boyfriends that you think are beautifully misunderstood but your friends think are cold blooded killers. My friend Humphry saw the play twice, and was convinced that he had to make it as his first feature film. My response was, sure, of course! Take that ball and run with it as far as you can.

Humphry ran that ball for four years, from 2002 – 2006, a roller coaster ride where the money MIGHT be there, the money’s not there. Talent IS attached, talent is not. I got paid option money, but the thing never came together and finally fizzled out in 2006. So when Humphry called me last year and said he had found a new investor for Striped Tiger, I said cool, you run that ball as far as you can. Again and went back to working on Purple Monkey. New Investor had a couple of notes (they always have notes), I suggested a new take on Striped Tiger that everyone seemed to love (The Tiger’s not Striped! It’s Spotted!), and Humphry sent New Investor many writing samples of mine to give New Investor things to read while I worked on a new outline. And at the meeting where New Investor was supposed to greenlight the Striped Tiger outline so I could start writing the script, he told Humphry that he wanted to make Pink Piggy instead. Pink Piggy was a finished script, had fewer characters, fewer locations, and could be done for less money.

I reacted to this the way I have been conditioned to. This SO isn’t happening. Four years on a Striped Tiger Roller Coaster will do that. So when we had casting sessions, when we sent out the all call for location favors, when I was told I needed to come up with a 150 word synopsis ASAP to send to bands for hopefully free music placement, I went along with the ride (wrangled my non-union actor friends into the auditions, found a coffeehouse as a location, sent in my synopsis with suggestions of L.A. bands that haven’t been signed to a label yet), but still metaphorically stuck my fingers in my ears and went not happening, not happening, nyah nyah nyah so it wouldn’t hurt so much when the film fell apart at the last minute, because that’s what happens, right? We lose a location, New Investor loses interest, something goes wrong, because something always goes wrong.

But nothing went wrong. We wrapped shooting on Pink Piggy Saturday morning at 7am, following a grueling 2 week, mostly nights shoot. I was on set for three days, and every time, right around 4 or 5am, I KNOW that crew would’ve been happy to throttle me for writing a story that took place between 10 pm and 2am. Which I will never do again, ha ha ha. I also will never write a script where a character pukes, because that takes YEARS to set up, and I don’t care if it’s oatmeal and applesauce, it’s disgusting to look at.

From the second New Investor said let’s make Pink Piggy five months ago, I have been trying to sort out what God thinks about all this. I’m working off the assumption that since we all live in a Legoland that God built, nothing really happens without Him knowing about it, so there’s no way that Pink Piggy got ushered in through a side door while God was working on the Darfur crisis.

So okay, God knows Pink Piggy and its misbegotten puking scene is being made into a movie. The next question is, is it that He’s WANTING it to happen, because it all figures into His Plan For Amy that is way stranger and cooler than I ever would’ve given Him credit for, or is He ALLOWING to happen because He knows the experience is really a test or temptation leading me down a road in which Really Bad Things happen. Like, this movie gets made, it jump starts my career, I sell more scripts, I hang out with the wrong people and suddenly I’m dead from a heroin overdose. Which wouldn’t have happened if Pink Piggy hadn’t been made.

Yes, people, this is unfortunately the way I think. But let’s try to be positive.

Two of my friends have had screenings of their documentaries in recent weeks, and I went to support them. The docs are very admirable and worthy of praise, and are about laudable things like surviving the death of a loved one by dedicating a life to Fair Trade practices, or exploring the debate and controversy surrounding gay marriage. If God had led me down a path where my purpose was to tell those kinds of stories, it would make sense. If God had led me down a path where my purpose was to write for Veggietales, that would make sense.

But we have gone and made a movie where a drunk girl and her friends stumble through the L.A. landscape to learn the lesson of Don’t Do Stupid Things When It Comes To Boys. Sure, I can dress it up in fancypants religious language and say it’s the journey of a young woman learning to forgive herself, but at the end of the day, it’s Don’t Keep Old Boyfriend’s Numbers In Your Cell Phone Because You Will Drunk Dial Them And Get Yourself In Trouble.

Oh, I hear Counselor Gladys now. It’s not an Either/Or. It’s a Both/And. Both/And will be the name of a script I write someday.

The real question is do I trust God enough to let Him work in ways that aren't overt in the way that one would think God works in (angels, The Sistine Chapel, Hallmark sappy movies.)

I was always going to write the things I write. Do I trust God that Pink Piggy and Striped Tiger and Purple Monkey were all part of His plan too? His plan to Prosper Me, Not Harm Me? Or am I a huge honking misguided Justifer?

When I met with Miss Eunice over Christmas break, I asked her whether God is intimately involved in every single detail in our lives, from primo parking spaces to free food at work, and if we don’t get an empty airplane seat next to us on the four hour flight back to Los Angeles, does that mean we did something to piss God off. Miss Eunice did her nifty sidestepping the issue thing and said it’s best to look at it like this: Good Thing Happens. Don’t Obsess About Why. Just Say “Thanks, God.”

So here ya go. Thanks, God, for Pink Piggy being made into my first feature film. Amen, amen, amen.


Anonymous said...

wow. woo-hoo. i want to be invited to the screening.


Tracy said...

I am insanely proud of you. :)

Carlen said...

Do you mind if I use your Both/And title? I really like it, and I'm not very creative myself.

KIDDING! This is so incredibly exciting - please keep us posted on how things play out, and I, too, would love to come to a screening. And when are you gonna toot your horn about this on the yahoo group? You can show all those other yahoos (um, that includes me) UP! This rocks. Congrats!