Cleveland, family, film festival, films, writing

and the sundance kid

Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve been having here in the Land of Cleves, it is still very much winter. But spring isn’t too far away, which means it’s almost time for my favorite week in March: The Cleveland International Film Festival. I attended my first festival in 1998 when I was 16. My dad, Papa G., took me and it’s an annual tradition that still continues. I missed a few post-college, so 2012 will be my tenth CIFF. I will be a volunteer for the second year in a row and for the first time ever I got to be on the Selection Committee.

Don’t let the fact that it’s in Cleveland fool you — this is a huge fucking event, showcasing amazing films from all over the world. Case in point: a little over ten years ago I got to see Christopher Nolan’s Memento at CIFF months before it had its wide screen release.

But the granddaddy (in notoriety only: CIFF has been around longer) of film festivals is Sundance. Held every January, Papa G. and I have been talking about going just about as long as we’ve been going to CIFF but we haven’t yet made it out to Utah.

So, despite my very obvious love for films, it’s still somewhat surprising that it took me until I was 29 to start writing screenplays.
For the past six months or so I’ve been working on a screenplay titled “Inverness”. Set in Cleveland in the 1920s, it’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth with a crime family twist. It’s an idea I’ve had in my head since college, but only now have I felt inspired enough to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). Truthfully, it started as a novel first. But when that didn’t work I decided to try and write it as a stageplay, calling back to its roots. But when that still wasn’t working, I wondered how hard it would be to write a screenplay.
Honestly? Not that difficult. Although, I should say that while I’m entirely self-taught in this medium, I have enjoyed reading screenplays over the years and have had two stage plays produced. So, really, it was just a matter of figuring out the details of format. Storytelling I can do and do well.
It turns out, though, that I really, really enjoy writing screenplays. While working on “Inverness” I heard about the Jameson First Shot competition and within a few days had a short screenplay that I submitted to that. Crazy? Bat shit. But what’s the worst that can happen? They say no and I get to say that Kevin Spacey read my screenplay? I mean, can that really be considered a downside?
Somewhere along the line I also came across the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. Although, to be honest, I do recall in 8th grade having gotten a copy of the application so I must have been aware of it then, too. The application process for the 2013 lab opens in February and ends in May, so I have about four months to finish the script, write my cover letter, resume, and two-page synopsis (which is proving to be more difficult than writing the 100+ page screenplay).
Sure. I have no industry experience and a bit of a dark horse. Again: what’s the worse that can happen? They say no and I’m out the $35 application fee? Um, okay? These characters have been in my head and my heart for over a decade and I’m not going to let something as silly as odds stop me.
Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

2 thoughts on “and the sundance kid”

  1. You go! You are so right, they could say no, but they can't even say that if you don't submit your work! All of it is such an important process.

    And Sundance…so cool. That has been a dream of mine to go some day.

    If you haven't yet, you might enjoy reading the new biography of Robert Redford (he is my all time favorite) it gives an interesting perspective on the founding and operations of Sundance.


  2. Robert Redford is one of my favorites too! I've loved him since I saw “The Way We Were” for the first time in, like, middle school and I still adore that movie.

    But I will definitely look into that book. I've seen it at the library, I just haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂


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