PRODUCTION ENTRY #1 – FEB. 4th 2019
I have courted this one for longer than my wife and I have been together. After my first marriage fell apart, I started thinking differently about life in general. You tend to think divorce is not God’s way but selfishly you feel elated from the responsibilities thereafter especially if you were in a bad one.
I wasn’t really in a bad marriage despite feeling elated. We didn’t get married because we really wanted to. We got married because it is God’s Way when you have a child and our families tried to hold us to that even if we were sure it would not work.
We found out quickly, that we were much better as co-parents than we were a family. With that said, my divorce was not ugly. We made an agreement, shook hands and we’ve kept that agreement still today without spending one penny in court over it. I get my kids half the time and pay for half their needs and that’s the extent of it.
Some people would say, “You’ve got it made.” Well I don’t. I only get to see my kids half of their life and that alone is my punishment for walking away from my marriage.
And that is the basis of this script.
Not having my kids for that week they were at their mother’s is what inspired this story idea seven years ago. Most people know my past, it is not a secret. I went to Los Angeles and had some success and will tell you today that I should have stayed there. I came back to Hickory after a frustrating year to just take a break and well, just kind of bottomed out emotionally. There’s a documentary of my life after Los Angeles floating around the internet actually for anybody that doesn’t know but for a couple of years following, I was very bitter about it and I actually probably let the bitterness creep into my personal life.
When my kid’s came along, the bitterness subsided and the drive to be successful returned.
All of these things were building this story in my head. I returned from Los Angeles right after 9/11 and witnessed my home town collapse internally from the economy going overseas. Jobs were scarce and life couldn’t be worse for a town that was once one of North Carolina’s richest cities during my childhood.
This was building a story. My years in Los Angeles built the story. My life’s decisions were building this story.
Then the divorce came and a spark ignited. I started penning a story about a man who had missed a golden opportunity and because of it had let his life stray off course leading him to despair.
When we meet the man, he has lost everything; His marriage, his job, his house and his two children.
He had grown up without his father and was trying desperately not to have his children do the same.
When his son prays for him to, “get it together,” one night, a spiritual journey begins and a new opportunity opens up but it will take him coming to terms with his past and putting his life moving forward in God’s hands for success to materialize.
I wrote the first draft in 45 days and hated it…. HATED IT! I was on the first revision when Carrie came to my door one day, hence changing my life forever.
The empty divorce feelings were gone and some of that bitterness that maybe I held on to subsided as well, but the story never left me. We suddenly had kids in the house all the time and I was with the woman of my dreams. My journey had not ended so badly after all.
This was writing the revision.
When I mowed the yard, I’d think about the revision of that script. When I would watch my daughter play softball, I’d think about the revision of that script. When I would pass another factory with a “For Lease” sign up, I would think about the revision of that script.
The children would go away to their other parent’s for the weekend and I’d find four hours to work on a couple scenes and then two months would go by before I’d get back to it.
I would attend church here and there looking for answers to my questions and yes, revising my script. This went on and on…..
Other projects would pop up. A television series in Los Angeles would take up many months of creative time. A pilot for Hulu would relinquish more. Life on the road as a camera man for hire would gather time. I can’t count the hours in a car thinking about that script jotting notes on paper, napkins, and voice memos on my phone throughout the past four years.
For seven years… This went on…. I finished the second full draft in the Summer of 2014. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it. �
It was starting to come together. I had traded a majority white cast in a Baptist environment for a majority black cast in a Southern Baptist Gospel environment. I had added some darker edges with some of the protagonist’s backstory and things were starting to take shape.
Then life carried on. Every week in my planner you would see in pencil, usually on a Friday, the words sketched in bold, “ The Fateful Season.” It was a constant reminder that this script must be completed. More ideas for other films and stories began to pile up. My revenge film about a man getting out of prison and coming back for his friends who betrayed him had been lingering for years and I was ready to push the “launch” button on it, but refused to do multiple projects when it came to writing. I felt it would compromise the art so, the urgency was becoming a factor as the new projects added up.
I finished the third revision in October of 2018. I knew I was close because I began to research local production companies and make phone calls…. We were almost there. The only thing that was not there was the ending.
In all the drafts I had never written the ending. I knew from the beginning how it was to go down and knew exactly how it was to unravel but had kept it all in my head. It had always been the same but I had felt there was no reason to add until I was sure I was done. So in early December I began the journey of crafting the climatic ending where my main character four innings into the championship game gets saved by God in what some people call, “Divine Intervention.”
When the smoke cleared the script was complete. Well… Technically the first full draft of the film was complete. I knew there had to be changes. It spanned a whopping 135 pages, which to standards is 15 pages over. It needed some story tweaks and dialogue fixes but it was to the point of giving it to my focus group. It was too the point of either being “Close,” or “a waste of seven years of my life.”
I was fully prepared to pass the script to ten people and have them all come back and tell me, that it was terrible. I was also fully prepared if that happened, to cut my losses and move on without another revision. I knew my strength, Family Drama wasn’t it. I had a perfect childhood with great parents. I had not gone through an ugly divorce with one of us committing adultery so what did I know of this? I hadn’t attended church every Sunday. What would I know about a faith based film? The other option of writing a story about a drug dealing felon causing havoc to his thug ex buddies after a bank robbery gone wrong sounded much more close to home, right? Probably not. Maybe it was just ideas. Maybe I wasn’t a good writer. Only a good producer.
I had written many movies, stories and other garbage in my day. Some I knew were terrible. Others were good and ended up on agents and producers desk even if that’s as far as they went. And I’m sure there had been a couple I thought were good and that weren’t.
This one, I felt in my heart, was the best I had ever done. I mean it should be. It took me seven years to write it. What am I doing if this isn’t at least mediocre I ask myself all the time. The first readers came back with “glowing reviews.” Two of my professional friends had read it along the way and after finally reading the latest were ecstatic.
“This movie is going to be so good on so many levels,” one stated. We weren’t out of the woods yet. I needed concrete results and I needed one more rewrite before beginning the pain staking process of raising money or the attempt to inquisition it.
More reviews came in, all great.
One of my oldest friends and biggest critics came back with great reviews before giving five pages of notes. The process was working.
My journey like Johnny Boston’s had been altered yet again.
My protagonist named above in this film, made some decisions in life that altered his journey. His journey ended up back in his hometown, scrounging to pay his bills, while clinging to a broken marriage. Much like mine…. But then kids came along which gave him a meaning and a drive. Much like me… And then a prayer for a second chance. A second chance to alter the road yet again. OK so maybe that’s not me.
My son did not pray for me to get a chance to make another movie… Or maybe he did…. And maybe that is why I am here and maybe that is why “The Fateful Season” was written.
Seven years and the story is just beginning…..