A parent’s nightmare, the dreaded ‘birds and bees’ chat. This loving father steps up to the plate to answer the questions from his inquisitive daughter. He is nervous as he awkwardly navigates his way through an explanation. But, humorously, the circumstance changes at the end.
Rebecca, 12 years old, learns that her Uncle Wallace, a cattle baron from Texas, is coming to visit. Rebecca doesn’t like her uncle and her only hope is that he will bring her a birthstone ring like the one he bought for her cousin the year before. After dinner, Uncle Wallace gives Rebecca her gift: a blue dress once owned by his wife Vera who has remained in Texas. When Rebecca’s mother asks her to try on the dress, Rebecca, bitterly disappointed, runs to her room in tears.
Rebecca soon suspects that her father and Uncle Wallace have reached an agreement that she won’t like. When her suspicions become true, Rebecca finds a way to exact a fitting revenge in return for the adults’ betrayal.
2. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
With the classic theme of a child against adults, this film can be enjoyed by preteens to eighty year olds. The central character of the child is not the usual heroine. The childish perspective of Rebecca contrasts with the reality facing the adults. The number of characters is limited to five; most of the action takes place in a house, its porch, and front yard. A street sidewalk is the only other location. The short story takes place just after WWII in Montreal, but this time frame can be pushed up 10-20 years, if necessary; the location can be moved to the US. A new car from the period is the main object that much reflect the period.
3. How would you describe this script in two words?
4. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
It’s hard to say. It’s a toss-up between Psycho, Citizen Kane, Wizard of Oz, and North by Northwest. All the while I’m watching, I’m telling myself, “You’ve seen this hundred times. You know every scene and most of the dialogue. Go do something else.” But I can’t tear myself away.
5. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I’ve been working on this screenplay off and on for six months.
6. How many stories have you written?
I’ve written about 20 stories and a novel, published last year, called Echo from Mount Royal
7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?
I wanted to try my hand at writing a screenplay. My short story called The Blue Dress seemed to offer a good combination of dialogue and conflict. I was also intrigued by the young girl who struggles against the adults. Her perspective offered the opportunity to combine humor with sympathy. Her relationship with her mother vs her father undergoes a reversal that provides a satisfying conclusion.
8. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
Adapting a short story taught me how to externalize the interior thoughts of the characters. For example, the friend, Jackie, was created to help us understand, more clearly, the motivations of Rebecca. Several scenes of backstory in the prose work was dropped for time reasons and to make the plot line more streamlined. The criticism I received from the judge at the festival pertained to the length of time before the uncle arrives at Rebecca’s home. His arrival propels the plot into Act Two and must come sooner. Act One of the screenplay was shortened by 25% in the next revision.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
My wife and I enjoy travelling throughout the world. I enjoy gardening and spending time with our grandchildren. Reading is the center of my life.
10. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I joined FilmFreeway and began searching for festivals that accepted short screenplays. I chose this festival because I got a down-to-earth vibe from the website. I expect that hearing the screenplay will help me hear what dialogue works and what doesn’t. Also the judge’s criticism was exactly what had to be changed.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Join a critique group where you have the opportunity to workshop your script. Revise the script over and over to tighten the dialogue. Try to find place where a single word or sentence or action defines a character. Watch lots of films and study screenplays to see how professionals solve the problems we all face.
UNDER THE PILLOW played at the FEEDBACK Film Festival in 2013. It’s an animated documentary made from the drawings and voices of a group of children from a clinic in India. The guitar, dancing, a trip to the sea, Sweety and Kitty cats and sisters who care, are among some of the treasures and dreams that keep children under the pillow.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
BAJO LA ALMOHADA (Under the Pillow), Animation/Documentary – 8min – Spain/India
Directed by Isabel Herguera
ISABEL HERGUERA. Donostia/San Sebastian, 1961. She juggled her animation production work with teaching. She coordinates activities in the Motion Picture Laboratory in Arteleku and teaches classes in the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India