The American Dream | Skillshare Projects

Jasmin Toutounchi

my name is Jaz and i enjoy telling stories



The American Dream


The text I chose was from Spoon River Anthology: By Edgar Lee Masters.

Cassius Hueffer

THEY have chiseled on my stone the words:

“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him

That nature might stand up and say to all the world,

This was a man.”

Those who knew me smile

As they read this empty rhetoric.

My epitaph should have been:

“Life was not gentle to him,

And the elements so mixed in him

That he made warfare on life

In the which he was slain.”

While I lived I could not cope with slanderous tongues,

Now that I am dead I must submit to an epitaph

Graven by a fool!


I think it’s an interesting notion, the way that people are perceived in life in contrast to how they are after they pass. I dealt with that a good amount in my high school years as a number of suicides and random deaths occurred in and around my hometown. This piece is simply trying to take the humor from Hueffer’s poem, in that this is the way I perceived this specific person I went to high school with, who too had an untimely death. And now, in me writing this, I’ve turned her person into a character and in a sense- this is my epitaph to her. Graven by another fool, no less. When we leave, all that is really left behind are the stories and circumstances that others use to define your character. Whether we like it or not.



This piece definitely changed from my creative writing phase to a script. Where certain things just didn't work structurally. I understand that the way I write my screenplay is not the conventional or even the recommended way of going about it. But, I felt the voice I created for Layla was strong enough to take audiences through it while adding a distinct flavor that I think captures a very youth oriented time in life. In a way, Layla acts as a Edward Norton in Fight Club, taking us through the special details that make moments real. 

So in a sense, this script is experimental and realistically, is going to be a feat to produce considering how many characters I have to cast and how many different scenes I've created. They say, simplicity is key with short films. Well, being a teenager isn't really simple. The inner dialogue that populates a teen's mind is constant and moving through the minutia of their microcosim of a life that has SO much meaning to them. The good thing is, majority of the script is voiceover and simply takes you through imagery. The less dialogue, the more chance we have to play around with the montage and improv. Interestingly enough, I realize that the town sort of became a character in itself and acts as the atagonist in my story.


There were a ton of reiterations of the treatment for this project but you can find my latest Treatment below

Please find the FIRST DRAFT Screenplay below

Please find the SECOND DRAFT Screenplay below

Please find the THIRD DRAFT Screenplay below

Please find the FINAL DRAFT Screenplay below



In the midst of a small town with repression simmering over the edge, a teenage girl reflects on her brief memories with a high school classmate before her ultimate suicide. 


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