T. S. Eliot said, “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
T. S. Eliot said, “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
Take a second and imagine what led to the taking of this mugshot.
Texas Dick is one of my several unproduced film scripts. This post is the story of the story of the script and the trailer. It includes photographs of the production, and links to videos of a reading of the script and the trailer.
The seed for the tale occurred over a summer week in Alpine, a small town in western Texas, population 6000, two hundred miles from anywhere you’ve heard of. I was fourteen. Nearly every day of that week found me sitting among the dim back-row seats of the Sul Ross College theater watching a rehearsal of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. My older brother Grainger was playing the title role quite ably for a twenty-five year old rock singer on his way to getting his PhD in zoology.
The play, or rather two plays are not so much about Henry IV as the coming of age of his rebellious twenty-something son Prince Henry who suspects his father has committed murder to gain the thrown. The story is split between comedy and drama. The comic half is a romp through the pubs and byways around Eastcheap, England. The result is a sort of Shakespearean dysfunctional buddy movie staring a handsome prince and a hugely entertaining pompous gasbag named Falstaff. The exposition and ridicule of Falstaff’s pretensions provide some of the most side-splitting comedy to ever appeared onstage.
The second impetus for my screwball screenplay came decades later in a theater near my house in Seattle. The local high school was presenting series of scenes from plays as diverse as A Streetcar Named Desire and Richard III. Though I had seen Richard several times, this instance proved to be an inspiration. The students chose the second scene – the one after “Now is the winter of my discontent.” In it the funeral of King Henry VI passes by Richard before he becomes a king himself. Richard orders the pallbearers to halt. Lady Anne, the widow, curses him for murdering her husband, which Richard does not deny. In the next several minutes Richard, using his eloquent misdirection convinces Anne – standing beside freshly dead husband -that he did the deed for the love of her. Upset but profoundly flattered, she agrees to accept Richard’s ring and to rendezvous with him later.
Several nights later, the idea of Texas Dick came to me in a dream wherein two itinerant actors wake up in the middle of the night in a small town hospital room believing that they are Richard III and Falstaff. They soon find like-minded rabble-rousing dissidents among the cowboy poets at The One Knight, the local bar. The sheriff appears which leads to the above mugshot. And so the tale begins.
The dream led to plotting and writing the screenplay over a period of about a year. Effort and chance meetings led me to filming the trailer, Tommy Lee Jones, options and – as happens in many Texas tales – the inevitable intrigue swirling around a guy named Bubba. But that’s for another post, which I will add in time.
For now I offer you the video links and the photographs below of what turned out to be three difficult but joyous days of shooting, as you can see from the photographs below. I apologize for not being able to raise the $5M we needed to shoot the money, but I guess that’s just show business. Nevertheless thanks to all who helped us especially the executive producers which included Lalu Kiesling of Menlo Park, California, and Clay Lindley of Marfa, Tx. And to the directors, who chose not to be credited due to a bad business decision on my part. (More on that in a future post.)
I posted a song of mine on YouTube last night. Click on the image above, and a new window will open up so you can watch the song. The lyrics are below.
[If you’re on a computer and having trouble, click here: Sperry Hunt: Santa Fe County]
Santa Fe County
©2013 Sperry Hunt
Thanks for the drivin’ me to San Antone
And for waitin’ til my midnight bus had gone
Sorry I had say you couldn’t to come.
But my road is just too hard for one so young.
But I wish you could see the rainfall drape the sky
When the sun lights the mesa it’s like God’s in your eye.
Kurt Brindley created this post on his blog which I like very much. I too was very impressed by Natalie Goldberg’s book. My favorite passage was the one in which she talks about how some ideas are songs, some are poems, some are novels, etc. Very good advice.
I watched Drake Doremus’ 2013 film Breath In last night. I always enjoy seeing Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones, both of whom seem to be everywhere these days. I wondered what would draw them both into what seemed to be a tiny film. I was not disappointed.
The story is essentially a British forbidden love novel with all the right beats and few of the traps that D. H. Lawrence would have merrily strewn through it. The actors were well chosen, and every effort was made to restrain what could easily have been a tawdry, melodramatic and self-righteous tale. Doremus, who also wrote the film, made sure that every character had a firm perspective and the romance was attributed at least in part to events in their lives at that moment. What happened could simply not have been avoided by real people, which should be said of all stories.
Good stories have clear characterization, character being defines as desire, drive, ability, compassion and perspective all of which change over a lifetime. Here’s a simple example of those changes from my own family history. I’ve been thinking about this lately as I ponder my upcoming knee replacement.
Philo Howard, my mother’s brother, was a frank, funny, energetic man. At sixteen, he ran away to Canada from his home in Houston. There, he lied about his age and joined the Canadian Royal Air Force to fight in WWII, which the US had not yet entered. His whereabouts were determined by my dad’s mother who read an article in the Houston paper listing Texas volunteers. Uncle Philo was returned to the bosom of his family forthwith. Several years later he enlisted in the American Air Corps and flew P-51s over Europe.
My family had a party in Houston in 2003 to celebrate what would have been my late father’s 100th birthday. My uncle, who recently had his pacemaker replaced, couldn’t make the party. He emailed me this tribute to be read at the celebration. My dad, Judge Wilmer Hunt, was nearly twenty-years his senior. To his great sorrow he was denied military service due to his age, very flat feet and a knee injured by my mother. (That’s another story.) The setting of Philo’s account is the rich farmland of eastern Texas in the 50’s. By prison, my uncle was referring to a pea farm, as they were called back then. They were minimum security prisons where inmates grew food for the prison system.
Wilmer was my favorite, because he liked to fish and many times took me along. One time he took me to Kemah and we got in a small skiff and towed [it] out to the middle of the bay for four hours. I was always a little hyper, and I almost jumped out of the boat after about an hour. Wilmer seeing this, started telling me stories. As I remember, this calmed me down a bit and I caught some fish.
Being a Judge he had access to a prison and one near Brazoria had a great fishing pond. He and I went there about three times. It seemed I always ended up having to carry a small Outboard motor from the parking lot to the lake each time. I asked him why, and he said “when you are my age you will understand.”
There is a legend that when King Richard the Lionheart disappeared a faithful squire named Blondel the Minstrel went in search of him. As a wandering minstrel Blondel travelled for months over central Europe, vainly seeking for news of his friend, the King of England. At last one day, while singing one of Richard’s favorite songs near the walls of the castle where the king was confined, Blondel heard the song repeated from a window. Blondel the Minstrel recognized the voice of King Richard. From the window Richard told him to let the English people and the people of Europe know where he was confined, and Blondel the minstrel immediately went upon his mission.
Europe was astounded to learn that the brave King Richard of England, the great champion of Christendom, was imprisoned. The story of Blondel the Minstrel might not be true, but what is true is that England offered to ransom Richard, that the Pope interceded for him and that finally it was agreed that King Richard should be given up on the payment of a very large sum of money in the form of a ransom.
Many of the nobles and knights in Queen Eleanor’s Duchy of Aquitaine were troubadours. Queens Eleanor of Aquitaine ( Richard’s mother )and Queen Berengaria (Richard’s wife ) raised the ransom. King Richard came home in 1194, after a year and a half of captivity. His grateful thanks were given to his faithful friend Blondel the Minstrel.