Sunday, February 21, 2016

Keeping Clabber Happy

By Laura P. Valtorta

I’m revising a screenplay, and Clabber has to like it because it’s about him, his film studio, and his employees. Also, he will be the cinematographer for the narrative feature film we hope to produce this year. I threw a Jodie person in the story for some gritty Southern charm, but mainly the characters in Quiet on the Set are me, my husband, and Clabber’s crew.
Clabber and I had a meeting in November to discuss the making of this film. “We have to cut costs,” said Clabber. “Actors cost a lot of money. And I have an idea – let’s make a film about a table read.”

It pains me to admit that Clabber had a good idea. If the film were about a table read, I could eliminate some of the characters, including the older mentor, Lindsay, who Clabber said “gave him the creeps.” Even though Lindsay was an accurate portrait of Clabber’s best friend, I erased him.

During December, January, and my visit to Texas in February, I re-wrote my screenplay. This ended up being a worthwhile exercise, requiring thought. During the table read, I could allow my characters to stop and ridicule the story. The approach added another layer to the story and became a film about creating comedy.

On the Thursday before Valentine’s Day, I met with Clabber and his right-hand man, John, to discuss the state of the screenplay. Only 60 pages were re-written, but they showed the Genesis people where I was going.

“I can see you’ve taken my advice,” said Clabber, “and you’re moving in the right direction.”

I told them I was “workshopping” the script, and it helped to read various pages aloud at SCWW meetings.
“You’ve got to come up with an actor to play yourself,” I told Clabber. “Somebody you like. A good actor. What about the fellow who starred in your first horror short?”
Clabber seemed embarrassed. “That guy is a handsome leading man,” he said.

“I only noticed that he was a decent actor.” And this was the truth. The actor wasn’t my cup of tea, beauty-wise. But since I need to keep Clabber happy, it doesn’t hurt that I suggested his doppelgänger be someone he believes is a potential movie star.

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