Welcome to the next STS feature length showcase! A sweet and wryly amusing family comedy, Memories has already garnered accolades: including Quarterfinalist in 2014 Scriptapalooza, 2nd round Austin, and Finalist status – along with an award for “Best Ensemble Comedy Screenplay” – at the Broad Humor Film Festival. Now all it needs is an indie forever home…. Could it be with you?
Screenwriting – it’s an art that requires multiple layers of skill.
Sure, the fundamentals remain constant: an interesting premise. Structure. Character development – at least, to some extent.
But each genre throws fresh variables into the works – areas where writers must specialize. Wanna write for Michael Bay? The action damned well better leap off the page. If horror’s your poison of choice, your atmospheric visuals best be spit-shined… creeping your readers out of their skins.
Then there’s dramedy. In a world over-saturated with non-stop thrillers and FX blockbusters, dramedy’s an underappreciated genre. When done right, dramedy creates twice the work… demanding a writer create a compelling premise, empathetic characters – and make the audience laugh, as well?
That’s one heck of a balancing act – one that requires a feather-light touch to get right.
Fortunately, that’s one recipe Marnie Lister Mitchell’s got down pat: throw in a colorful ensemble – and a plot/bowl deep enough to keep them contained. Powder with good natured humor (organic only – no forced jokes, please.) Then bake carefully. Letting the story rise as it may…
In the case of Memories, the script rises on Abby Mahoney (50s). Though a successful photographer, Abby’s personal life’s in disarray. Her only daughter Juliana just started college. And then there’s her divorce from husband Mack, for whom she still carries a flame. Not a pleasant state of affairs… especially for a self-confessed control freak. Having found a new life (and exotic younger girlfriend Sierra) on an Arizona Indian retreat, Mack’s been pestering Abby to sell the house. Things just can’t get worse…
…until they do. While skipping class with her new boyfriend, Juliana sustains a major head injury. Abby and Mack spend a strained night in the hospital, waiting for their daughter to revive. When Juliana wakes, their delight fades – she looks at them as strangers. Juliana’s got amnesia. Indefinitely.
Mack sets up camp at a nearby hotel with Sierra – accompanied by her Native American father (and mystic guru) Jake. Abby brings Juliana back home, hoping the surroundings will jog her memory. But Abby’s pressure only makes the girl uncomfortable; driving her even further away. Juliana hits it off with Sierra – someone closer to her age. Despite Abby’s urgings, the only thing Juliana finds familiar is a faded photo from the Grand Canyon, taken during a family vacation a decade ago. An inspired Abby hits upon a plan: rent an RV and drive cross-country. It’s a chance to visit family, and reignite Juliana’s memories (and maybe her romance with Mack as well.)
…but there’s a kink in the plans. Juliana insists on Sierra coming along. And where Sierra goes, Jake does as well.
And so the group hits the road. As the miles roll by, the story enfolds: crammed into Winnebago sized spaces – not to mention public bathrooms. Will Abby win back Mack? Or push him (and Juliana) further away? Are the photos of a faded past worth saving… and were they real anyway? Unlike recent road trip tales like Tammy, Memories aims for subtlety; blending the clash of personalities, goals and expectations organically – mixed with gentle humor and a cast of colorful characters.
As any cook worth their “salt” can tell you, a recipe is more than just ingredients that one throws into a bowl and shakes. It’s a writer’s talent that blends the components together – creating wildly varying results. (For anyone who doubts that statement – let them watch a double-header of Tootsie vs. Jack and Jill. Or Madea vs. Doubtfire) And so it is with Memories. A family road trip. Amnesia. The emotional agony of divorce. All such themes have been seen in other films. But when pulled together by a seasoned character writer (such as Ms. Lister) the result is something to be savored. Like a delicate dramedy souffle.
In the Indie world, budget isn’t king. But characters and characterization are. Easily shot in a handful of locations, Memories is chock-full of the things that give Indie dramedies their unique style and flavor – quirky characters. Genuine humor. And a story that will make you smile.
About the writer: An award winning writer AND photographer, Marnie Mitchell-Lister’s website is available at http://brainfluffs.com/. Marnie’s had 5 shorts produced (so far) and placed Semi-final with her features in Bluecat.
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