Forgotten Road | Skillshare Projects



Forgotten Road

Project Update:

Second draft:

Cleaned up some formatting/spelling/grammar issues, as well as tightened up the dialogue.

First draft is complete.

Step One: Selecting your text.

As with most things I attempt I wanted to get started right away, as fast as possible.  That meant I didn't feel like waiting for Amazon to deliver one of the non-free texts to my door. I downloaded the freely available Spoon River Anthology and dove in.  Wow.  What did I get myself into?  Great little bits of character, but how in the hell would anyone be able to fathom a screenplay from such short, free verse poems.

I read them all.  I noted the ones that stuck out to me.  I went back and re-read those.  I made notes.  The one that at first struck me as having questions that needed answers was 'Alfred Moir', because he mentions some fateful journey to a town named Mason City where he came across a book that changed his life forever.  I had to know... what was this book? and was he mentioning my hometown?

 A few google queries about the poem and about the author led me to a few conclusions.  The poem of 'Alfred Moir' and 'Webster Ford' were fairly well documented as having been at least somewhat autobiographical pieces.  The "book" in question was the collected works of Shelly. The reference to Mason City was in fact not my hometown of Mason City, IA, but rather most likely Mason City, IL ( a mere 35 miles away from the author's hometown of Lewiston, IL.) 

Once those questions were answered it was time to dig deeper into the poems.  One of the most intriguing lines of the entire collection is this one... " And down, down, down, I plunged through bellowing darkness."  It must have carried some weight with the author.  He repeated it in two different poems; the first time in Mickey M'Grew and secondly in the autobiographical Webster Ford. 

I have decided to write my screenplay based on these two characters, because of the similarities they share with my own life.   I too was born and raised in a small Midwest town, where I so greatly yearned for life beyond it's stifling confines.  I too have found myself, like Webster, at a point in my life where I could no longer deny the overwhelming need to take on creative endeavors (to heed the call of Apollo as it were). 

All that being said, I still have yet to compose a compelling storyline based on these characters.  I believe I have done what Mr. Franco spoke about in the video where he said to "identify what works about the piece and try to stay true to that essence"... I'm paraphrasing, but I think that was the jist of it.  To that end I've done 10+ pages of free associative writing, even going so far as to do a Q&A session with Mickey, writing the voice I believe Mickey would have. I have wandered the streets of Lewiston, IL (via Google street view) gaining a sense of the town (and it feels so much like my hometown it's eerie).  I looked at google maps of the area, trying to gain an understanding of the cemetary from which the voices speak and perhaps a glimpse of the river bed from which Mickey and Webster spied Delphic Apollo.  I happened to notice a few waterways and streets of note... Miserable Lake and Forgotten Road being the most notable (hence the title of the project)

Part of the difficulty, that is also part of the strength of poetry, is that there is so much room for interpretation.  I think that in the case of the Mickey M'Grew poem there is so much that is telling about that line... " And down, down, down, I plunged through bellowing darkness." In particular there are two word choices here that are critical.  "Bellow" as per definition means to "emit a deep loud roar, typically in pain or anger."  I find this so telling.  The cause of Mickey's demise is left rather ambiguous.  We don't know if it was an accident or he threw himself into the abyss, intentionally self-destructing, but the choice of the word bellow to me suggests the later.  The choice of the word "through" is also telling.  I had found a reading of the poem in which the line was changed to "down, down, down, I plunged into bellowing darkness".

I believe this to be an incorrect reading, as every textual version I have encountered uses the word "through".  Using the word "through" implies an eventual emergance beyond.  If instead one were to fall into bellowing darkness it would imply a static, unchanging permanence.  If one knows anything of the mentallity of those who have experienced suicidal ideation, one knows that it is not death they seek, but merely an escape from the psychological torment and pain they feel. 

So where does Webster come into all this?  His poem is the last in the collection and seems to summarize the relationship between the two as having been a youthful, shared artistic vision that died with Mickey. The five lines in the middle of the poem ...

’Tis vain, O youth, to fly the call of Apollo.

Fling yourselves in the fire, die with a song of spring,

If die you must in the spring. For none shall look

On the face of Apollo and live, and choose you must

’Twixt death in the flame and death after years of sorrow,

are some of the most lyrical, powerful words ever spoken.  

So where does this leave me?  I've done more free-writing/exploration/research in prepartion for this project than I will eventually do writing of the screenplay itself.  I guess no-one ever said this was going to be easy.

Do I divulge too much?  Should I leave all this to mine own self and only share that which is the finished product? 

Step Two: Write.

I have completed a first draft.  It can be found here.

Second draft here:

Step Three: Writing the logline.

An ambitious young man has his hopes of escaping the cultural void of a small midwest town, with his long time romantic interest, crushed when his father has to use up his college fund. 


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