Now that I’ve finished the film treatment for “I Love You, California!” I’m moving on to a new, challenging and exciting project. But what happens with the film treatment, you ask? Stuff it in a drawer? Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve never done anything like that before and so I’m unsure about next steps. I suppose that with luck, we’ll find somebody in the film-making world who thinks we have a great story and will help it get made. This is not the part of the work that appeals to me. I enjoy the research and the writing. In an ideal world, I’d leave every bit of the promotion to others.
Be that as it may, it’s still time to dig in to a new project and let the treatment “ferment.”
Trust the process!
So the new project: I’ve started the research for a novel that will follow an American family through the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. For a writer, this 40-year period is particularly juicy. The Roaring 20’s, the Great Depression, World War II, and the McCarthy era, along with the post-war expansion, will comprise building blocks of the story.
How do I approach a writing project like this? Since I’ve never tackled writing a novel, I’m figuring out what works for me as I go along. There’s a good deal of finding my way by bumping into things and then changing direction. I started out with ideas for a beginning, middle and end. As a playwright, I know that the place to begin should follow an inciting incident. Something has to have happened that sets the play . . . the machine . . . the story . . . in motion. I want to start this novel in much the same way and to that end, I’ve drafted a beginning that, for the moment, I like and that I hope will infuse the story with the energy it needs to keep a reader engaged. Now I’m collecting my characters and working up their life histories.
If you’ve tackled writing a novel, I’d be interested to hear how you got the ball rolling . . .
I’ve just completed the final draft of a “treatment” for a film and I’m feeling great. It’s the first time for me to write a film treatment and it’s been quite a challenge. It’s taken just over one year.
My involvement started at the end of March 2012 when I met a couple, Mikhail and Wendy, at Fort Ross, north of San Francisco. I’d been commissioned to write a series of historic scenarios for the Fort’s bicentennial celebration and this was a kick-off meeting. Fort Ross is where, in 1812, the Russian American Company established an outpost for agriculture and commerce to supply their main colony far to the north in what is now Sitka, Alaska.
Wendy approached me at the end of the meeting and asked if I would consider meeting with her and Mikhail to explore the possibility of writing a treatment for a film they had had long in mind. Of course I was intrigued and over the next weeks and months, I became increasingly sold on the project which for now has the working title, I Love You, California.
I Love You, California is the story of two men from Russia and two women from California. Each of the Russian men falls deeply in love with one of the California women and visa versa. What separates the couples is time. One couple (Rezanov and Concha) is from the early 1800’s and their story is played out against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and the colonization of the what is now California, Oregon, Washington, Canada and Alaska by Imperial Russia. The other couple (Mikhail and Wendy) is from the 1990’s. Their story takes place in the first, tentative days of the “melting” of the Cold War and the chaotic dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The incredible circumstances that bring these two men and two women together, the enormous challenges they each face and struggle to overcome, and the many joys and sorrows that accompany these romances are at the heart of the story.
Now it’s time for us to look for a producer who has as much faith in the project as we do. If you know somebody who might be interested, let me know!