I wrote the first episode of The Marriage Counselor out of boredom. I write every day. If I’m not working on a feature, I’ll write a short film. If I’m running low on creative juice, I’ll transcribe what’s happening in my room as it happens. This usually results in painfully specific accounts of my dog’s posture and physiognomy as she tears through one of the many possessions of mine that have been re-appropriated as chew toys since I adopted her. The point is, I have a folder on my desktop labeled Screenwriting. Inside that folder are four more folders in alphabetical order.
This folder contains my registered screenplays.
2. Other People’s Work
This folder is full of screenplays, produced and non-produced, that I have read, studied and learned from.
My current works in progress that I have deemed worthy of development.
Painfully specific accounts of my dog’s posture and physiognomy as she tears through one of the many possessions of mine that have been re-appropriated as chew toys since I adopted her. Also, the first draft of The Marriage Counselor.
All the sh*t that I write for practice ends up in that fourth folder. It’s full of garbage and I clean it out every month to prevent myself from thinking any of the garbage is worth more than garbage.
I met the director, Jerry J White III, about a year ago. He asked to read some of my work and I sent him a grab bag: 1 comedic feature, 1 dramatic feature, 1 promotional vignette, a handful of short films and, for reasons unknown, The Marriage Counselor. I wasn’t sure what it was about the short film that made me decide to send it. I thought it was funny but I didnÊ¼t think anyone else would. I never planned to develop it but something about it clicked with Jerry. The next time I saw him he told me to write I’ve more episodes.
Down the road a piece, we had six scripts in front of us. One of them was deemed too expensive for our nonexistent budget and, rather than edit it to meet our restrictions, like a real writer, I threw it away. No biggie, it was in the Whatever folder anyway. We locked five scripts, all in the ten minute range and showed them to our friend and Director of Photography, Kenny Keeler. He told me that he pissed himself with laughter over the pilot which was enough to convince Jerry he was our man to shoot it and enough to convince me that he had little to no taste.
We held auditions for the lead and only recurring role of The Marriage Counselor. Matthew St. James was always at the top of Jerry’s list and his audition was as good as the material would allow. Let’s just say he knows how to make lemonade out of a sh*tty script.
We posted a video on Kickstarter, bringing in a little over a thousand dollars from fourteen people with no direction in their lives.
After we blew that money on a bitching party, we stumbled out of several uncomfortable sleeping positions to roll on the first episode of what will invariably prevent all of us from ever working again.
Regardless of the complications we hit, running out of money, losing four hours of coverage from episode two, having to change locations for the second half of the season, promising sexual favors to crew members in return for free labor, none of us did much complaining. We plugged away at the project, not sure who was going to laugh at the increasingly violent antics of an unlicensed lunatic shilling out marital advice with the help of his talking trash can. I told Jerry several times that it was too bizarre, too unfocused and, not to sound pretentious, too subversive to be accessible. I came to ï¬nd that, if laughter is any indication, the cast and crew disagreed with me.
I don’t know if anyone will like The Marriage Counselor. It may very well be the most ambitious “You Had To Be There” Moment that any of us end up telling anticlimactic stories about but, for those of us that were there, it wasn’t funny. It was hilarious. We laughed until we cried and then we did another take when the laughter became quiet enough. For better or worse, the project is Finished now. That, along with a healthy, playful dog, is worth much more than Whatever to me.
Jerry J White III is a Missouri born director, now living in Los Angeles, California. He Made his first feature film before graduating college entitled 0:22:43. This film was accepted into the Bare Bones International Film Festival and almost picked up for distribution from After Dark Films. After Being passed on distribution he and his fellow filmmakers decided to give the film away for free on the internet. This film has now been seen in over 50 countries around the world and only cost $325 to make. Jerry is now in pre-production on his second feature and you can check out more of his work at www.jwthree.com
For more information on The Marriage Counselor and to become a fan, please visit here.