End of an Era
When I lived in Dumfries for 3 years, the most common theme I found amongst the locals was hating where they were from. It seemed to me Dumfries was split 50/50 between those who liked it, and those who wanted to escape it. It was hard to deny the unsightly empty shops, the frequently abandoned high street, or the run-down council housing projects. I must admit, for the first year and a half, I was amongst the half who wanted to leave.
But after staying long enough to make friends, I found a powerful movement within Dumfries. There was a cross generational push to actively improve the high street, making the town a nicer place to live. It was all centred at the stove, an arts collective disguised as a Café. The Stove Network proved to me something about the soul of Dumfries. There was hope. Even those who liked Dumfries could see its flaws, but instead of harbouring hatred and a desire to leave, they actively worked towards improving the town through a variety of projects.
This struggle between the pessimists and optimists of Dumfries is what I wanted to capture in End of an Era. After learning his girlfriend is pregnant, Harrison decides to leave Dumfries for London. His friend Alex finds him passed out in the gutter, too drunk to walk home. The boys stumble along Dumfries, but when Alex questions why Harrison wants to leave his hometown, Harrison lashes out against his best friend and his hometown, scarring the relationship.
In this story, Harrison must decide to accept his roots and his responsibilities, or to run to a new life to start all over again. In the arc of the Hero’s Journey, Harrison is refusing the call to adventure, choosing instead to run from his problems rather than face them. By tying in this universal concept to the duality of loving and hating Dumfries, it opens the story up to a wider audience. Now this local drama could appeal to anyone who has tried to run from their problems rather than face them.
The revision process followed my usual workflow. I wrote an outline before setting out, highlighting the themes and narrative structure I wanted to tackle. After that, I wrote a first draft in one sitting, then took one pass over it for language. I let it sit for a week, then revised it for structure and action. Then I sent it off for feedback from my module leader, and some friends. After recieving this feedback, I wrote a new draft from scratch, let it sit for one more week, did a couple more passes of revisions, then called it finished.
As it stands, the script is quite short to fit the brief of the assignment. But over the holidays, I hope to expand it somewhere between 10 minutes and half an hour. I’ve invited a friend of mine, Michael McKean, a Dumfries local, to help me write the script and produce the film. Michael gave me revision advise earlier on in the process, but most of it pertained to expanding the script into a longer piece. With an acting background, I hope Michael will act in the film, and can bring some of his acting friends along with him.
If working on short films in this first trimester has taught me anything, pre-production is the key to have a smooth shoot. Between now and next summer, I’ll work with Michael developing the script, ideas about locations and production design, and finding interested crew. Hopefully, Michael and I could work something out with the Stove for screening and promotion.
These early stages are some of the most exciting in a project. Everything is new and fresh; the possibilities are endless. By using the techniques learned on my course, I hope to produce a truly unique and festival-ready film.