Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Paisley Bunny's National Debut


The weeks have been okay.  I remember when Tricia was going through the loss of her husband while jugging being a parent to their toddler, and how she told me once, over lunch, “Grief waits.”

And so I was going through these days with that image of Grief, sitting at a table with a big knife and fork waiting for me to sit down and dine, except I would be the main course.

But that hasn't happened yet.

Then there was a person at Thanksgiving, who told me just because I haven't been prostrate with grief doesn't mean I won't be.  This person, who lost their parent two months ago, shook their head knowingly in a way I found distasteful.   People are different, and their grief is different.  I'm probably not going to grieve in the same way you do, or how my sister does, or my Mom, because my parent's death wasn't the same as yours, I'm not the same as you, and it's kinda arrogant for you to act like you think you know how my journey from here will be.  If I want to know your opinion on your journey, I'll ask.  But don't condescendingly shake your head at me and say I've got some bumps in the road ahead of me.  We are all different.

Dad’s death wasn’t unexpected, it wasn’t a gut punch, the scenario of We Can Maybe Save Him! was never an option, so maybe that helps buffer the impact.  I don’t have children and don't have plans or urges to have children, so the lingering sadness of They Won’t Know Their Grandfather isn’t there. 

I’m still able to get out of bed.  I’m still able to go to work.  I’m still able to dogsit, and that’s good, because I’ve got dueling gigs next week, blargh.  I’m eyeing Christmas coming up, and I know that’ll be weird, if not hard.  But I’m also getting the sense that I’m not going to know exactly what it’s like until I get there, so I’m able to compartmentalize it and put it away in the metaphor dresser, ‘cause there’s certainly plenty of things to do in the meantime, like Christmas shopping, like rewriting a pilot, like la la la.

Dad was a Christian, so I know he’s in heaven, able to see all of this happening.  And maybe somebody else would be desperately looking for a sign that he’s up there, seeing all of this.  And maybe that sign would come in the form of a flower, a tree, sun breaking through the clouds, or something else equally Hallmarky.

But I’m not looking for those signs.  I’m taking comfort in the knowledge that he’s up there, watching all of this, and he’s okay.  Not in pain anymore, not weak or scary thin anymore.  He's healthy and happy and he’s okay up there, I’m okay down here.  And the days continue on, filled with Facebook messages, condolence cards, flowers, and one giant Godiva basket from my monthly prayer group (they know me so well)!

Paisley Bunny aired on TV this week.  I didn’t get the news about an airdate until after Dad passed, so there wasn’t a chance to tell him his daughter was making her national screenwriting debut.  But he knew it was in the works and again, he can see everything now, so he still knows, so there are no tears of He Didn’t Live Long Enough To See His Daughter’s Work!  If anything, he'll probably be able to watch the whole thing without falling asleep, as I imagine that nobody falls asleep during movies in heaven, because nobody's tired in heaven, they're not bound to earthly bodily mechanics or things like exhaustion or Ate Too Much At Lunch or Too Much Alcohol.  In my idea of heaven, you eat what you want, you drink what you want, you're happy and you sleep when you want to.  And perhaps most importantly, you're never bored.  For the right reasons, not because you're stressed.  There is no stress in heaven.  Says me.

If you read the original Paisley Bunny post, you know the most important thing to me about that script was the monologue that Bucky Bunny says toward the final third of the movie.  Because I wasn’t allowed to say “Jesus,” “God,” or “Bible.”  I wasn’t even allowed to show my rabbits hopping by a church in the background. 

(I also wasn’t allowed to say “poop” because on this particular channel that the movie was airing on, you can show syndicated episodes of crime shows where they kill people at the drop of a hat, but the word “poop” is too scatological.  WhatEVER.)

So Bucky Bunny says this monologue, and I knew they had at least shot it, it was still in the script supervisor’s book:

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?!

The question was, was the monologue going to remain intact?  Or was it going to end on the very real cutting room floor?  Because plenty of other things DID land on the cutting room floor.  Ralphie Rabbit, (Bucky 's rival for Dew Drop Bunny)’s whole backstory about how he had gotten to Happy Dell, that was in the script, but didn't make it into the movie.  Plucky Duck's goal of decorating an underwater Christmas tree, did he actually do it?  Did he actually make it?  Does the Christmas Tree stay anchored underwater?  Well, yes, in the script, it did, but in the movie, just a loose end that's mentioned once and then never again.

So, future writers, when you're sitting in your seat at the movie theater and you think to yourself "HEY!  They never resolved that dangling plot element! (like, say, the discarded crown on a rock in Brave)"  What you don't know is that they DID probably resolve that element in the script, but it got cut from the final movie.

So cut out whatever you want to, did Bucky Bunny's monologue that's actually code for talking to God, did it make it in?  Or did somebody finally figure it out and cut it?

So I watched the movie live when it aired, texting back and forth with sister Agatha on the East Coast.  And we cheered when we saw my name WRITTEN BY AMY THE WRITER in the opening credits.

And what they did do in the movie which wasn't how I wrote it, was fashion a bookend.  You know what a bookend is, it's when the movie starts with a scene where the characters are already in crisis, and then the rest of the movie spools out in a kind of flashback, until you get to that same scene in the pivotal third act, and then finish up the movie from there.  Executives and Producers often do this when they feel the movie isn't starting in exciting enough of a manner to capture audience's interests.  It's a bit of a clich√© at this point, which is why I didn't write it like that.

But I'm not going to get upset about it, because the bookend they use as Bucky Bunny and Peepers Rabbit are hopping through Happy Dell, frantically looking for Dew Drop Bunny, and then there's this overhead shot from a crane, and Bucky Bunny stares at the camera suspended above him and says:

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!  

Not only did my secret God encoding monologue make it in, it's almost the very first thing you see in the movie.  YAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!

And the rest of the movie unfolds, and the actor voicing Plucky Duck rewrote all of my lines because he thinks he’s a writer, except his jokes aren't better than mine, but it's okay, the actress voicing Dew Drop Bunny said all of my lines exactly the way they were written, and I’d say about 75 – 80% percent of what I wrote made it into the final cut, which isn’t so bad at all, and then we get to the final third of the movie, we’re caught up with the scene that kicked off the movie, the rest of Bucky’s monologue.

There’s no reason you should help me!  But I’m asking anyway!  Because I love Dew Drop Bunny.  I love Dew Drop Bunny!   If you were ever going to help anyone, help me please?  PLEASE?!

Hilarious, huh?  The things they cut out of this coded monologue are not about the Universe (God), are not about the Universe’s book (The Bible).  They’re about love.  They didn’t say this line:

And love... that’s what you need, right, Universe?  Love?  Isn’t love worth it? 

And as much as I am cynical about Hollywood and the way things have gone lately, I don’t think The Powers That Be Over This Movie cut out those lines because they’re about love.  They most likely cut them out because they’re redundant.  Ducky already says he loves Dew Drop Bunny.  The rest is implied.

I now have my first national screenwriting credit.  And my Dad and my Father in heaven, are really quite pleased.



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