I watch people. I have no shame. I sit, perched in coffeehouse chairs just watching. I examine people’s moves, their dialogue, and their gestures.
I am a voyeur. Oh wait, I mean a writer. Hey, I could be Ted Bundy, but at least I know where to draw the line.
On a cold, dreary day in New York, while killing a few hours waiting for my teenager, I hunkered down in Starbucks to write. I noticed a young couple sitting near me. I didn’t give it much thought, until I saw them arguing outside a few minutes later.
After fifteen minutes, I realized this was not just any argument. This was an impasse.
I did the only thing I knew how… I tweeted every bit of it to my followers.
As more and more people jumped into the conversation, it was clear I hit on something. Every single person could relate to this couple. Whether straight, gay, young, or old, we’ve all had a relationship where we had to make a painful choice.
Stay or go.
By the end of the voyeurism-tweet reporting, I knew this was the short film I wanted to write for Michael Bekemeyer to direct. Over the two years I’ve known Bekemeyer on Twitter, we’ve had intense conversations about life and love. I knew the script would speak to him.
Normally in a fight, there’s one winner and one loser. One is the aggressor, one the defender. But for this couple, the energy was totally different. They both made their points, and they both were in pain, yet they were deeply in love. Neither one wanted to be the aggressor or the bad guy. They weren’t fighting each other; they were fighting for their love.
While I couldn’t hear the actual words of the argument, their body language spoke in a way words couldn’t. There were no victims. No winners. Just two people who lost everything that mattered dearly to them… each other.
Days and weeks later, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.
How could we make this what I wanted… what I saw. Being the witness raised the bar for how I needed to write the script. It was visual, not verbal. The challenge was to write it to accurately convey the emotion while adding a backstory to the character who was watching the couple fight in order to make the whole story richer.
We thought about the local talent in Orlando, where Bekemeyer lives and where we’d shoot, and worried we couldn’t elevate the quality of the film within those parameters. Then it dawned on us – since Impasse was born on Twitter, why not use that momentum, energy, and talent.
From that moment on, everyone came to us serendipitously via Twitter. Film editor Eric Brodeur tweeted about having two films he worked on competing at Sundance. By coincidence, I was also going to the big Dance.
Oh yeah, I was going to have a stalking opportunity.
Lucky for me, Eric didn’t get a restraining order, but we did sling back some liquor and talk about Impasse. The seed was planted.
Then we pulled in actor John T. Woods (Down and Dangerous, I Fucking Hate You) to play opposite Russell. Everything started coming together organically. I wrote about the process of creating our team on my Balls of Steel column for ScriptMag.com.
We didn’t just want to do a Kickstarter, make a quickie short film, and have our DVDs sit in the bottom of people’s drawers. We wanted to share a slice of life with viewers, leaving them questioning their own choices.
Imagine creating a piece of art that might actually move someone to step out of being paralyzed by fear and change his or her life?
That is our goal… to nudge people out of their moment of impasse.
Clearly, that theme has spoken to people. We’ve gotten amazing support for our Kickstarter campaign, especially from Twitter. Doug Richardson, screenwriter of Die Hard 2, Bad Boys, Hostage, etc. offered up e-books and paperbacks of his latest novel The Safety Expert. Best Selling thriller author, JT Ellison, chipped in five autographed copies of her new novel A Deeper Darkness, and The Great American Pitchfest offered us passes to their pitching event to give away as perks!
New supporters show up everyday, emailing to offer added rewards. Every one of them, someone we met on Twitter. The support from this incredible community has been mind blowing.
I’m known as “The Twitter Pimp Angel” because I deeply believe in the power of paying it forward. As I write this, I can honestly say most of the people I helped in the past have helped me in return. Not all, but most. That thrills me to no end. I never “pay it forward” expecting anything in return, so when those I have supported, support me, I’m humbled.
We are all more powerful as a unit than as individuals.
I’m sure that’s how the arguing couple felt too.
I wonder where they are today. If they ever reconciled and found stronger love to share, or if they parted ways, finding a better future with someone else. I’ll never know, but I will always know the impact their love had on my life.
Impasse. It’s a powerful place for a person to be, and even more powerful to move past.
Once you make a choice, you’re life will never be the same again.
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman is the Editor and Online Community Manager of ScriptMag.com and a webinar instructor for the Writers Store. She is Co-Founder and moderator of the weekly Twitter screenwriters’ chat, #Scriptchat, and recently wrote the adaption of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name, with its author, Douglas A. Blackmon, former senior national correspondent of The Wall Street Journal. More information can be found on her blog, Ramblings of a Recovered Insecureaholic. Follow @jeannevb on Twitter.
WATCH JEANNE AND DOUGLAS A. BLACKMON FROM THEIR VISIT TO THE FILM COURAGE STUDIO. LISTEN TO THEIR RADIO INTERVIEW HERE.
Screenwriter Jeanne V. Bowerman and Author Douglas A. Blackmon tell the backstory of the upcoming PBS documentary for ‘Slavery By Another Name.’