I didn’t set out to write scripts about war, but my Nicholl winning WWI script, The Greater Glory, has propelled me in that direction. In 2013 I was hired to write a Vietnam War script based on the book Captain For Dark Mornings by Shad Meshad. It is the true story of a Psych Officer, who enlisted to counsel men and women with what was then termed ‘shell shock’ – now PTSD. The subject is gripping, messy and heart wrenching, and little has changed from that war to those we are embroiled in now.
The very nature of war is conflict and places human beings in the throes of moral dilemma. Add a misunderstood buddy, a by-the-book commander, a formidable opponent and a great mentor and with exceptional execution, the screenplay teaches, grabs your guts, tugs at your heart and sends you on an emotional journey that can change you forever.
Of all the names in the universe, we picked this. Why? Because it’s a name which represents who we imagine ourselves to be. Is it truly who we are, or just the best we could come up with on short notice? Or even long notice? It’s not a bad name. Maybe it’s even a good one. And even if it weren’t, we wouldn’t admit it to ourselves, because now it symbolizes us.
What we do under that name is pen screenplays – draw pictures with words that will translate to a screen. It’s our desire that our writing will distract the reader – be an escape – a thing that draws attention away from something else. We also hope it will entertain. Be that which occupies the mind. That’s not to say it’s good or bad, but poor writing doesn’t occupy the way good writing does. Good writing inhabits. It burrows. Lodges itself in the recesses of the mind and lingers. If it’s done its job it makes us think – transports us – even makes us wish we had written it ourselves.
And so we embark. Follow those who carry a laptop into the plethora of coffee shops and claim the comfy chairs and declare themselves screenwriters. And to all of you we raise our Soy Chai Latte to Entertainment – the ultimate weapon of mass distraction.