Mom Would Have Been Proud
Way back in the late Seventies – circa early in 1978 – I told my mom, “You know what? Someday I’m gonna write a movie. I wanna write one, anyway.”
I had just seen Star Wars during one of the three times that I watched it over its long run (May 1977-July 1978), and I was fascinated by the notion that before George Lucas ever said “Action!’ to his cast and crew in 1976…even before Ralph McQuarrie created his first production paintings…Star Wars had existed only as words on paper.
At the age of 15, I knew that acting wasn’t my cup of moviemaking tea. And I don’t have the temperament for managing large groups of people or instructing actors on how to perform their roles.
I did love writing, though. I’ve had a love affair with the written word since before I first kissed a girl. I was reading before I was four years old; I kissed my second girlfriend – on the lips, at that! – at the age of nine. I started writing stories to amuse myself and impress my teachers not long after I learned the joys of kissing…but I was reading way before then.
Anyway, back to my conversation with Mom….
Mom and I were sitting in the kitchen of our then new townhouse; Mom was smoking a Pall Mall Gold as she had her morning cup of coffee, and I was having my usual breakfast: scrambled eggs and toast that I had made myself, and a cup of coffee that Mom had brewed for me.
When I said, “You know what? Someday I’m gonna write a movie. I wanna write one, anyway,” my mother smiled at me. Not condescendingly, not mockingly. Rather, it was a wistful little smile.
“You can do it if you set your mind to it, mijito. And I will be proud of you because I know you will do your best.”
Fast forward 31 years….
In 2009. I co-wrote, with my friend and colleague Juan Carlos Hernandez, a script that we called After the Ball. It was an odd mix of comedy and horror that Juan tried to get financing for but couldn’t get anybody to invest in. I was, predictably, disappointed.
But Mom, whose health was about to go badly south not long afterward, said, “There’ll be other scripts. Just keep at it.”
I then started on another collaboration with Juan -a script called Gym Rats. But Mom then got really sick in March of 2010. Caregiving duties and stress didn’t mix well with screenwriting, so I had to tell Juan, “Sorry, man, but I can’t help you with Gym Rats. Mom got sick, so…”
Fast forward to 2020…..
Mom died in July of 2015. My life was chaotic with the aftermath, including a nasty – but predictable – legal squabble with my half-sister over Mom’s modest estate, an unplanned move out of Miami, and other issues. Then, out of the blue, my friend Juan asked me to write a short screenplay for the production company he founded with his wife Adria.
“I need a two-minutes-long short. It can be about anything.”
I tried my best to write a two-minutes-long film (two pages of screenplay). Ended up with a nearly four-minutes long film instead. No problem. Juan and Adria still shot it. A Simple Ad, we call it.
Next, Juan asked me for a comedy script. I tried to write one. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good, either. I had to try again.
In the meantime, Juan worked on a script of his own. He wanted me to contribute to it, so I wrote a no-dialogue sequence that ended up being the second “act” of Clown 345.
Finally, after weeks of grappling with the “comedy script” I called Happy Days Are Here Again, I sent Juan several drafts. That script was better than my first attempt at comedy. Everyone worked on it in two different states of the Union: Juan, Adria, and their son Anthony in New York. Me in Florida. It took a while, but it got made. Revised, reworked, and renamed, it now lives as Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss.
Officially, that makes three official writing or co-writing credits that I’ve earned since 2019. Three produced short films that can be seen – gratis – on YouTube.
I’d like to think that my mother would have liked the finished films. As someone who knew her well, I can say with 90% certainty that of the three, she would have enjoyed Ronnie the most. She would have liked the others as well, but as someone who loved All in the Family – the sitcom that most influenced my first draft – Mom would have found Guillermo, Ronnie, and Jerry’s story highly entertaining, and she would have appreciated the social commentary beneath the humorous situations.
And best of all, she would have been proud of my work as a screenwriter.
My Internet Movie Database page can be found here: Alex Diaz-Granados at IMDb.com
2 thoughts on “Adventures in Screenwriting: Mom Would Have Been Proud”
Your Mom *IS* proud
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I sure hope so.
She was so pleased when Juan – a buddy of mine from Drama I in high school – chose me as his collaborator for the film we called “After the Ball.” I am not sure if it was the best of scripts, but it wasn’t a bad one, either. And she was philosophical when I told her, “Mom, Juan couldn’t get backing for the script.” And when we started “Gym Rats” in the Spring of 2010, I had managed to get maybe a page or two’s worth of script in when Mom’s back issues kicked in and our lives were transformed.
As I said in my post, I knew my Mom well, especially her tastes in film and comedy. I’m pretty sure she would have liked the humor in our third film. That’s why the only favor I asked Juan when I sent him the first draft of the script was that we had to incorporate pictures of my mother as props. That, and the film’s dedication. I didn’t ask for money or sole writer’s credit; Juan could have claimed a co-writer’s credit if he had chosen to. He didn’t. But I just had to honor Mom in the best way possible, even if it is in a short film that most people won’t even see.
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