1.5.98

Making Cherry

"Credit is great when it's given to you, not when you have to take it." --Irving Thalberg


 

Locations:
Production Office

Producer's Club: production meeting

Panavision: camera tests

Leila's: Dress set

Magno

Principals:
Everyone sometimes everywhere
You've Got Questions? Cherry Has Answers

castbutton.gif (2024 bytes)

cherryNAVmenu.gif (1546 bytes)

December

S
M
T
W
T
F
S
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
 
 
 

January

S
M
T
W
T
F
S
 
 
 
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31

February

S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28

It is Written

Anatomy of a Scene Part 1

Early on, when I was writing about the shot-listing of Cherry, Joe Pierson suggested that we do a sequence of stories called "The Anatomy of a Scene."

His idea was to track the creation of one scene from the beginning of the process, the scripting, to the end, as it appears on screen in your local Bijou. Or multiplex, more likely. It is hoped.

I liked the idea.

What you are about to read, if you continue on, are the opening scenes of the script for Cherry. The first is from the draft of the script that the screenwriter, Terry Reed, submitted to Cypress Films, and which Cypress subsequently bought (N.B.: after Terry had rewritten the script).

The second is from the "locked" draft of the script, which incorporates changes that Terry and Jon made over the intervening six months. The purpose here isn’t to determine who contributed what to the final script. Terry as the writer and Jon (and Joe, too) as the producer/directors worked on multiple drafts in a series of different contexts, and I wasn’t privy to much of that.

The purpose here is to take a look at what they started with, the writer’s draft, and what they ended up with, the revised version, and finally, what they really end up with in the end, the filmed version, and thusly track how vision and revision become a movie.

There are seven days left until shooting starts on Cherry. As we progress you’ll later find accounts of the shotlisting of "Scene 1," and the rehearsals and the shooting and the editing. The purpose of the opening scene in a movie is to grab you, to rope you into whatever narrative nuttiness the story holds and to seduce you into giving it the benefit of the doubt.

The opening scene of a movie, like the first line of a novel, is the author’s sales pitch. It is doubtful that someone who resists it will leave the theater happy.

(By the way, as mentioned in an earlier edition of "Making Cherry," the script form used on the "Making Cherry" web pages doesn’t at all correspond to actual script format. This is both to prove that I’m earning my keep as a typist, and to reduce the potential problems that might be encountered by visitors using other than the latest browsers. If it doesn’t work for you, please let me know.)

 

CHERRY: Terry Reed’s Last Draft (the bought one)

DARKNESS

A young man’s voice

YOUNG MAN (V.O.)
Wine comes in at the mouth
Love comes in at the eyes
That is all we shall know of truth
Before we grow old and die…

FADE IN – BLACK AND WHITE

EXT. GRAMERCY PARK, NEW YORK CITY – DUSK

A stiff Wind. A BRIDE gets out of a limo and drags her ass like a zombie toward a townhouse.

YOUNG MAN (V.O.)
I lift my glass to my mouth,
I look at you…and I sigh.

Trees bend their bare, twisted limbs as if to lynch her: snagging her gown, catching at the layers of tulle over her face. She fights them off and plods on. Ahead of her, TWO MEN walk, the Wind chasing the tails of their morning coats. Ahead of them: a young BRIDESMAID—or an old flower girl.

Now a Tumbleweed rolls down the sidewalk and entangles itself in the embattled bride’s train. She swats it free, then trudges after the others into the house.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. GRAMERCY PARK TOWNHOUSE – DAY

The men—tall, aristocratic UNCLE ERNEST and MAMMY, his gentler, younger, queenier male companion—silently read a letter, while the bride, LEILA SWEET, 16, collapses onto a sofa, exuding all the enthusiasm of a pile of laundry.

UNCLE ERNEST
(briskly)
Well, his note claims he’s… dead.

LEILA
(beat)
But he signed it, right?

The men, discreetly, nod the answer.

LEILA
And he dotted the ‘i’ in his name with a little happy face?

Bingo. Uncle Ernest and Mammy exchange concerned glances.

LEILA
Oh, Uncle. Mammy. That is not a nice excuse. Not after what happened to dear Mommy and Daddy….?

CUT TO:

EXT. ROAD – DAY

A road sign reads: CAPE CANAVERAL

A 1969 Mercedes exits the space center.

INT. – CAR – DAY

Two little GIRLS in the back seat, dressed in expensive official-looking NASA spacesuits. Up front, DADDY, the driver, and MOMMY, riding shotgun, have been singing a road song, now in progress.

MOMMY AND DADDY
K – I get a kick out of you.
I – I’ll be in hot water…
E – If you Ever leave me it’s the End
Put them all together, they spell ‘Duckie…’

CU, little girls, mouthing the words through their space helmets…their adoring eyes glued on Daddy’s adoring eyes…

DADDY
…Rubber Duckie, I’m so lucky you’re my friend….

The SCREECH of tires, CRUNCH of twisted metal.

FADE TO BLACK/FADE IN

INT. GRAMERCY PARK TOWNHOUSE – DAY

The young bride at an open window, heavy velvet draperies billowing in the uncommon Wind.

LEILA
On my parents’ grave, before God, never again will I let some lying Bozo tell me he loves me, much less agree to marry him for it..

Uncle Ernest closes the window.

UNCLE ERNEST
Nonsense.

LEILA
I’ll die first.

UNCLE ERNEST
You’ll go to Harvard first.

FADE OUT

Two Cherry Scripts

CHERRY: The Shooting Script

FADE IN:

BLACK AND WHITE/DREAMY

CU: THE SERENE FACE OF A BEATIFIC STATUE

Three people, one after the other, rush by in a blur.

EXT. CHURCHYARD – AFTERNOON

A stiff WIND. A BRIDE angrily drags her ass out of a church and into its courtyard.

Trees bend their bare, twisted limbs as if to lynch her: snagging her gown, catching at the layers of tulle over her face. She fights them off and storms on. Behind her, TWO MEN try to keep up, the Wind chasing the tails of their morning coats.

The men—tall, aristocratic UNCLE ERNEST and MAMMY, his gentler, younger, queenier male companion—collapse on a bench, while the bride, LEILA SWEET, 18, paces in front of them. Mammy silently reads a letter.

MAMMY
Well, his note claims he’s … dead.

A scowling Ernest rips it out of his hand.

UNCLE ERNEST
(beat)
But he signed it, right?

The answer’s written on Mammy’s sympathetic face.

UNCLE ERNEST (CONT’D)
And he dotted the "I" in his name with a little happy face?

Can’t argue with the facts.

From ABOVE we see the young bride. Her uncles stand around her awkwardly. The uncommon Wind stirs the leaves on the ground. ZOOM IN on Leila’s face TO AN ABSURDLY CLOSE AND ASKEW ANGLE:

LEILA
On my parents’ grave, before God, never again will I let some lying Bozo tell me he loves me, much less agree to marry him for it.

Uncle Ernest steps forward.

UNCLE ERNEST
Nonsense.

LEILA
I’ll die first.

UNCLE ERNEST
You’ll go to Harvard first.

The camera WIDENS to reveal a trail of clothes leading down the courtyard path through the church’s outer gates: dark pants, cummerbund, suspenders, tailed jacket, bow tie, dress shirt and shoes. We imagine an intended GROOM running the streets of New York in his underwear, and incongruously hear the sound of an alarm clock as we…

FADE OUT:

  

That’s it. Two scenes, set in different places, but with much in common. The final version still has the parents’ death scene, or how the girls became orphans, but it is scene #11 in the shooting script, showing up on page 9.

Both scenes are designed to create sympathy for Leila, our heroine, and to define once and for all why she is the way she is. At an early age (16 in Terry’s version, 18 in the shooting version) she was left at the altar by a fleeing groom. And somewhere in that fact is where her troubles began.

The most significant change, of course, is that the rewritten scene is played at the church rather than at Ernest and Mammy’s. I’m not giving much away by saying that the last scene of Cherry in the final shooting script takes place in a church.

That’s the sort of symmetry that producers and rewriters love.

And writers, too, when the congruencies aren’t too pat and the structure isn’t too constricting.

It doesn't appear here that they are. Leila is introduced, and the basic conflict is defined, pretty darned economically. In the script at least, which must mean it is time to shot list. 

Peter Kreutzer  

 

Tuesday

 

(c) 1997 Peter M. Kreutzer