Kevin Kawa

Screenwriter and web designer

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The Sorrow Pinhole

   

Step 1: Selecting Your Text

I chose Francis Turner and, although not overtly stated as his "Mary," I am pulling Mary McNeely (and to a far lesser extent, Daniel M'Cumber) into Francis' story.

Through the story of Francis and Mary, I am looking to explore how depression is not only an isolating factor to the individual from society as a whole, but also to the individual as a singular being. How depression changes us as a person, if we allow it to do so. In spite of this darker theme, my story of Francis and Mary will examine how one moment, how one true moment of human connection is sometimes all we need to forge ahead in life.

Step 2: Drafting Your Screenplay

Final draft available here (please note, as I work to get Pinhole produced, I have removed public access to the script, but please feel free to click the link and request access to the script, which I will happily do): The Sorrow Pinhole

Step 3: Writing Your Logline

A teenage boy – bullied by life and looking for a way out – discovers that he has more in common with his high school’s most popular girl than he ever thought possible.

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Odds and ends, not related to the project template:

In defense of The Sorrow Pinhole (a look back at the incredible feedback I have received so far):

No backstory: I'll admit: this is a relatively new one. However, I think that the backstory for both Francis and Mary are sprinkled throughout the script. Mary certainly gets more, but in the poem she also does. That is not an excuse, but Francis, as someone who has been sickly and bullied his whole life lives his backstory every day. This is also the "one character, one setting, one conflict" thing that James brought up, and, in my opinion, is an example of why not doing a straight adaptation "hurts" my script.

The first meeting of Francis and Mary: This is something that I left up to that reader/audience, avoiding hand-holding. The importance of their conversation isn't in that moment, what Mary said to Francis, and what Francis said back to Mary. We all kind of know what they said in that initial meeting. This is also an example of "Enter late/leave early," where that information isn't really necessary to the story, as the reader/audience can fill in that blank.

Francis and Mary doing something: They actually do things throughout the script. Motion sickness. Mary's journal. The sandwich. For the final two pages, the action “stops.” They are just sitting there. Which would typically happen when someone is telling you something very important. Yes, through eight pages they are sitting on a swing, but they are in-action, with those actions relying important points about their characters.

Mary doesn't talk like a teenager: This, I guess, is the most hotly-debated item about my script. I have expanded her writing "background" a bit, while also condensing some of her final dialogue blocks. But it comes down to if you believe someone who is 18-years old can talk like that and has the emotional depth of those words. I happen to believe, after having your mother commit suicide, having your dad spiral into alcoholism and depression over it (something gleaned from the source poem), and trying to commit suicide yourself, you grow up in a hurry. Mary is not the same person she was a year ago, when all her world was clothes and parties. She is different. A year older. But far far wiser. I have dealt with many of the issues in my script recently - my sister, who was two years older than me recently died of ALS, and suicide has also affected my life - and although I am older than Mary, you do see things differently when you go through tragedy. You learn about yourself. You become... different. And I don't think there is an age limit on that.

The kiss: The kiss was in Francis' original poem. It, for all intents and purposes, is really the only thing in his poem. The kiss, coming from Mary was not a romantic kiss. It was an emotional kiss. There didn't need to be any leading up to it, or beating around the bush. She did it because, in that moment, that was all she could do. My best friend's dad died about two years ago. I remember being at the wake, hugging him, and he just started to cry. And, at that moment, whatever I could possibly say wasn't important. And feeling that, I held him tight, and kissed him, hard, on the cheek. That gesture, to me, allowed me to say everything while saying nothing at all. Mary's kiss was that moment. She told Francis everything she possibly could, and that, a kiss, was all that was left. While, at the same time, being the most important thing from Francis’ poem.

More action, less talking: I get this. But there are simply some scripts where "show more, tell less" apply less to. This, I believe is one of them. And here's the thing: I think saying that, in this case misses the point. Mary's longer dialogue piece is a visual description of how she feels, and what is going on inside of her. It is full of visual imagery. Sure, she is saying it, but what she says isn't as simple as "I'm depressed by my mom's suicide."

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