Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Paisley Bunny

So hey!  This one's kinda long!  Pace yourself!  You'll see why!

So one would think that one movie shooting in 2012 would be enough.  I know I would.  That getting a second movie made from a script would be my big blessing for 2012, and the rest of the year would be quiet.  Because that's how it normally works for me - God shows up, dumps a truckload of blessings on my face once a year, and then off He goes to bless other people and I don't hear from him for the rest of the year.  

And that's fine, because at least He showed up to say hi.

So one movie shooting would be great, more than enough, a blessing that Ye Olde Compass was pointing to would happen, and I wasn't even asking for it but would gladly accept.

Except I didn't think that movie would be Violet Giraffe.  I thought that movie would be Paisley Bunny.

See, the company that hired me, and subsequently pulled the plug on Golden Gecko contacted me at the beginning of the year to ask for my take on a few Easter ideas they had.

No problem!  I love Easter!  Technically, I would have loved anything they approached me with, be it a historical Antarctic Pelican rebellion, or a post-apocalyptic world of worms.  If you want to hire me to write something for you, and you're paying me money to do so, I will instantly become its #1 fan.

But seriously, I love Easter.  Easter candy rocks, everyone knows that.  Do you know in London, they sell Cadbury Eggs YEAR ROUND.  Those Brits don't know how great they have it!

Easter candy, cute little bunnies, baby chicks, and of course Jesus resurrecting from the death and saving us all from our sins.  I like Easter better than Christmas, just because Jesus as an adult is way more interesting than Jesus as a baby. 

So yes, nice company who still likes me and the way I write, let me take a crack at your Easter ideas!

So we huddled and I brainstormed and did a couple of two page suggestions for them, and we eventually came up with the idea of Bucky, the Paisley Easter Bunny, who saves Easter and earns the love of comely bunny Dew Drop when a marauding band of Evil Weasels come to the town of Happy Dell.

(note, all my projects and plots have code names so I don’t jeopardize myself for future gigs.  I'm not REALLY writing about a Paisley Easter Bunny.  Though that plot does sound kinda cool, doesn't it?)

So it all comes together rather quickly.  Contracts, payment schedules, same terms just like Golden Gecko last year.  But the difference is, there is no chance of them pulling the plug of this one like they did Golden Gecko.  Because they've already made room in their production schedule to film this.  In two months. 

Yes, this is how the movie business works, even on this small scale.  They will slate movies to film in two months even though there's not a script yet.  Because the intent is that there WILL be a script in two months, and it will be fabulous, and we've hired Amy The Writer to write it, and go go go!

I'm flattered they have such faith in me, and frightened, all at the same time.  Two months to turn in a script seems like a lot of time, and it would be, if your day job was writing all day.  but I have a separate day job, that's eight hours of my day, and there's practically no opportunity to work on it during the day job, so it's going to be a bunch of early mornings and late nights, and a river of Red Bull, but I can do it, sure I can.  You're paying me money, I'll whip up the best possible Easter Bunny story ever...

... but just one thing.  Just one tiny little thing.  To be fair, I did ask them first, so it's not like they're some big mean evil Anti-Christian organization.

But since this is an Easter story, I asked them if I'm allowed to put in a church.  Just, you know, in the background.  Not as an integral part of the plot, but just so we can note it and see that's it there, and acknowledge that Easter does have something more than green grass and peanut butter eggs.

And the word came back no.  No way.  Absolutely not.

I can see it from a marketing perspective.  Any whiff of Jesus in this film would automatically limit the audience to specifically Christian audiences.  And they want to have the broadest possible audience for this film - Christian and non-Christian. 

So here I am, writing an Easter story and studiously avoiding any Jesus references.


Well, this is certainly a strange blessing that God dumped on me.  Unless it’s NOT a blessing.  I mean, okay, yes, it is, but it’s maybe a CHALLENGE.  Can you, Amy The Writer, manage to sneak in a God reference or two in a script that has been expressly forbidden to reference God?  Will you get in trouble if they find out?  Will they never hire you again?  Is this the metaphorical sword you want to die on?

You know, I never wanted to be one of those annoying Christians, the expressly weird ones that wear Jesus on their sleeve in annoying Please Persecute Me ways.  You know, the ones that wear the WWJD bracelets, the ones that strike up awkward conversations about Jesus by the water cooler when nobody’s asked them about it, the ones that move to L.A. to become actresses, but turn down roles on supernatural TV series, and then claim they’re blackballed from the industry because of their faith in God.  (Don’t move to L.A. to be an actress if you’re gonna do that.  Stay where ever you are and act in your local theater there.)

But!  I’m Amy The Writer!  I at least have to try to get creative here.  And I see my window of opportunity when one of the executives suggests that the Best Bunny Friend of Bucky, a rabbit named Peepers, be a big fan of New Age books.  (Peepers, it should be said, is a very nerdy yet intelligent bunny, and you can tell because he’s the only rabbit in the movie that wears glasses.)

Let’s take a second to examine that.  Not the fact that Bunnies read New Age Books, but the fact that with this production company – talking about Jesus/church/Easter in a religious sense = not allowed.  Talking about New Age books = totally cool!

Probably because it’s not the main character, and it’s also viewed as “kooky.”  Oh, those wascally New Age Wabbits.

Anyhow, so I dive through the window and write into the plot that Peepers Rabbit has just finished reading a New Age Book about letting the Universe guide you and take control of your life, and recommends to Bucky that he should read it too.  But Bucky scoffs at the notion of New Age books, because, you know, HE’S A RABBIT, no, no, because Bucky doesn’t believe in the Universe, he believes in himself, and it’s up to him to stop those dastardly weasels from ruining Easter for everybunny.

Until right near the third act, in the classic “All hope is lost” moment, when the eggs are smashed, Dew Drop Bunny has been kidnapped by the Evil Weasels, and Bucky’s Buckybike has three flat tires, when Bucky does his cry from his little furry heart, clenches his little furry paws, and screams to the Universe:

BUCKY - Universe!  Okay, I was harsh about your book, and the opening doors and the closing doors, and I’ve been mocking you this entire time even though my friends believe in your book!  There’s no reason you should help me!  But I’m asking anyway!  Because I love Dew Drop Bunny.  I love Dew Drop Bunny!  And love... that’s what you need, right, Universe?  Love?  Isn’t love worth it?  If you were ever going to help someone like me, it’d be for love, wouldn’t it?  Please?  PLEASE?!

And it’s at that exact moment that help arrives, in the form of Plucky Duck, who just happens to have been swimming by when he saw where the Evil Weasels were taking Dew Drop Bunny too… and off Bucky, Plucky, and Peepers go to save the day, Dew Drop Bunny, and Easter in general.

Yes, it’s cheesy and convenient and you’ve seen that moment a thousand times before.  And I thought for sure when I wrote it, Bucky’s monologue would not make the final cut.  No way.  Not possible.  Surely, they were on to me, right?

All you have to do in that above monologue is swap the following:

Universe = God
Your Book = The Bible
Opening Doors and Closing Doors = letting You into my life.

I mean, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

So I turned in a draft, there were pages of notes, and I did another draft, and there were more notes, and then suddenly we were rushing into production, and I only did two drafts, but they paid me for the contractual polish and the rewrite that they didn’t ask me for because there was no time (and it was in the contract that they had to), and WE JUST WRAPPED Indigo Giraffe in June and now Paisley Easter Bunny is shooting for 15 days in July and THIS NEVER HAPPENS.

This never happens.  No writer ever has back to back movies.  Not the big bucks screenwriters, and certainly not me.

Until now.

They were shooting an Easter movie in the middle of July, and I really did feel bad for the actors in the bunny costumes, dying in 100 degree weather, surrounded by oversized fake Easter Eggs.  They were all quite lovely, and a lot of fun was had by all. 

I went to the set on the weekends, and the best place for the writer to sit is next to the Script Supervisor, because they’ve got the script, and they’re making notes about what lines have changed and la la la.

So I flipped in the script.  Did Bucky’s Universe monologue make the final cut?  Did they (and seriously, I don’t know who “they” are at this point – could’ve been the execs, or the director, or the actors) think the monologue was too cheesy and wasn’t something a rabbit would say and cut it completely?

Nope.  It’s still in there.  It’s still in there and it’s untouched.  Other things they totally messed with.  The Easter Egg Hunt features all new dialogue by somebody who’s not me (dunno who it is, but it’s still gonna be my name as Written By)  But Bucky’s Universe monologue, and all the code words therein are still intact, filmed, and as far as I know, will be in the final cut.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  Maybe this wasn’t a test from God to see if I could slip in some subliminal Christian messages into a silly little Easter Rabbit movie.

 Or maybe the subliminal messages are TOO subliminal, and nobody’s going to pick up on them.

Maybe this was just what it was – a writing assignment that will hopefully lead to a lasting relationship with this production company, so they will hire me to write other things for them.

Or maybe, just maybe, somewhere, if I don’t get a “Well done, good and faithful servant,”  I’ll get at least an Almighty chuckle or two or maybe a “Heh, heh, heh, that was pretty funny, Amy.”  If I could make God laugh (in a good way), that would make me happy.

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