Suzanne's Weblog


New Laurels

SCOTCH VERDICT picked up another award last month. I was genuinely surprised, and very pleased, to accept the genre prize for best historical screenplay. (Not based on the book by Lillian Faderman, by the way.)

Many thanks to the jury at the third annual 2014 Richmond International Film Festival, organized by Heather Waters, for commending this steamy trial story set during Napoleon’s blockade of Scotland, about four gorgeous women fighting for their lives–and the teenage rebel from Bombay with the power to destroy them all.

Along with the laurels came a cool subscription to the Media Industry Xchange along with Script Express services. Haven’t had a chance to try them out yet, but it will be interesting to see how they differ from InkTip.

Best Screenplay went, deservingly, to Fred Perry for CROSSINGS. “It’s a metaphysical drama,” Perry explained, “about a troubled kid and a reclusive WWII vet who conspire to pull of the impossible — the abduction of a beautiful apparition from the old man’s past.  It’s about lost love, longing and second chances. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” quipped Perry with his signature dry wit. His comedy FIVE DAYS IN CALCUTTA cracked me up at DC Shorts last fall, where it, too, won top honors.

I was in good company exploring Richmond for the first time. Really enjoyed meeting award-winning sound recordist Ron Judkins (LINCOLN), another talented scribbler whose new indie drama FINDING NEIGHBORS won best feature film.

Hopefully next year RIFF will publish the log lines of all fifteen selected screenplays and add staged readings so audiences can get a flavor of the writing that’s in competition. Without either one of those hooks to hang a hat on at the industry mixers that have become de rigeur at film festivals, writers are really at a social disadvantage. Film makers introduce themselves in conversation about the day’s screenings. If nobody knows your work, you feel pretty tongue tied sidling up to your colleagues at a bar. Just sayin’.

Thanks again to the RIFF staff for organizing events, and best wishes to all my fellow Richmond alums. Next time, don’t forget to memorize your log lines before raising a glass!










Richmond Update

220px-TheseThreePosterDid you know that with his 1961 hit THE CHILDREN’S HOUR, director William Wyler was merely remaking a 1936 drama called THESE THREE?

I didn’t, and I thought I knew everything about the various dramatizations of Pirie and Woods v Gordon, the 1811 Scottish trial that underpins my screenplay SCOTCH VERDICT.

Lillian Hellman wrote the script for THESE THREE, working for Goldwyn Pictures the princely sum of $2,500 a week, according to Wikipedia. That was her reward for the celebrity that came with 691 performances of the 1934 Broadway hit, The Children’s Hour, from which both screenplays were adapted.

Unknown-3Here is a link to an interview of Hellman in The Paris Review that gives a sense of what meaning she gleaned from the trial. In her misanthropy, colored by some pretty obvious prejudices, I think in many ways Hellman completely missed the point.

I think Lillian Faderman’s excellent history, Scotch Verdict, does a much better job. It’s a book I highly recommend from one of America’s leading authorities on lesbian history. Buy the reissued book here from Amazon. But don’t make the mistake of thinking my filmed version would be anything like that, either.

My sexy, ghostly screenplay SCOTCH VERDICT offers a completely different take on the true story of a case so crooked, it was the last time in Scottish history that defendants had to undergo a trial before a tribunal of male justices.

It’s up for best screenplay at the Richmond International Film Festival later this month. Wish me luck, and see you on the red carpet March 2nd. Tickets are still on sale here.

(P.S. I’m also looking forward to Friday night’s screening, followed by a Q&A, at the Virginia Historical Society. Exploring the 2012 protests against an abortion bill by Virginian women in Richmond, Christopher Englese’s feature documentary POLITICAL BODIES asks, “Why is women’s health being politicized?” My wife Amy Gerber made an award winning short film on the same subject–only hers was a forward thinking comedy called ASS BACKWARDS, shot entirely through the backup camera of a Toyota Prius. Gotta laugh. Check it out.)