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.)
Click here to see a video of a partial reading by the the Seattle Cold Readers of the Act I.
Click here to see trailer we shot in the Austin area..