"I wrote 10 drafts, 15 drafts, 25 drafts, I
dont know how many, before I ever sent the script out," says Terry Reed,
talking about her script for Cherry. "At first I didnt have Leila as a
virgin. She was just a loser, and the idea was to look at what would happen if you fell
through the cracks."
I caught up with Terry over the weekend, after a week of
shooting. I was curious about her reaction to the shoot, and surprised to find out that
the scripts main concept--a virgin wants to have a baby--wasnt the
storys starting point.
"It wasnt called 'Cherry' then, though it was the story of a woman
who is an orphan, a woman who has been abandoned," she said. "At first I made
her a typist, because when I got out of graduate school I was working on a novel and I had
to work nights as a typist. It was so terribly depressing to be surrounded by people, your
contemporaries, and they're making all kinds of money, and youre just struggling to
hang in there. I wanted Leila to be someone who had heart, who was seeking something more
fulfilling than money."
Lest this sound too dark, Terry continued, "Of course, it was always supposed to
be a comedy, too."
Terry soon rejected the idea of having Leila be a typist, "it was too isolated and
boring," and made her a waitress in a muffin shop. Eventually it developed that Leila
owned the muffin shop, but Terry made Leilas the saddest, worst muffin shop in the
world. Trained as a novelist, with a graduate degree from Columbia Universitys
writing program, it took some time for Terry to adjust to writing for film.
"The problem was I was making everything too internal, like a novel," she
said. "It wasn't until I started to look for a way to externalize the idea that Leila
was without love, to externalize her internal state, that I got it. And then it just
naturally followed that Leila should be a virgin.
"Her being a virgin is a specific problem," Terry pointed out, in advice any
screenwriting aspirant can benefit from, "and specific problems work much better than
general ones. Theyre funnier, too."
Having spent time on the set this past week and having watched Cherry begin to
come to life, Terrys first reaction isnt about comedy, its about
romance: "The first time I saw Shalom and Jake together, it was a thrill.
Theyre so cute! My heart went pit-a-pat. They are very romantic together.
"All the casting is great," she continued. "It crystallizes the
characters, captures who they are. They did a great job. And now, after all this time
its amazing to think that my script could actually be a film."