Friday, August 10, 2012

Brighton Luke - Act II

Okay, here is Act II of Brighton Luke's interview. (If you happened to miss Act I-click here.)

14. When did you start writing screenplays?
What made you want to write them? Probably high school I think. I wrote the script for a short a few friends and I filmed as our final project for AP English. I love movies, even more than books, to me there is no better entertainment than a well made film. So I’ve always been interested in filmmaking and I’ve always had so many stories swimming around in my head it made sense to write them down, and to me some stories either just fit a novel or a film better so I just go with whichever one, and for some I write two versions like in What the Water Gave Us I wrote that first as a screenplay and then I also thought it would make a good novel so I rewrote it as one. Movies have such a big impact on me when I watch them, so I’ve always wanted to have that same impact on people. I’m currently (we start shooting August 15th) directing and producing my first feature length film, American Dreamsicle, so even though it’s completely stressing me out I’m finally really discovering how much it’s something I want to do. Every obstacle that has come up I’ve really buckled down, found a solution and felt reaffirmed in my conviction that this is what I want to be doing, what I should be doing which is exciting. I’ve often longed for that, the conviction of feeling like I’m certain that I’m doing the right thing, and wanting something badly enough to have the dedication to reach excellence (haha I sound like I’ve been watching way too much Olympics, not that there is such a thing as too much Olympics).

15. Screenplays vs. Novels: how alike/unalike are they?
Screenplays are much more strictly structured, both in format and plot wise, which I think some people could probably use a little more of in their novels, I think learning how to properly structure a screenplay has helped me with writing tighter novels. You have so much less room in a screenplay everything has to have a purpose that moves the plot forward and it all has to be visual, if you can’t see or hear it on screen you can’t include it (well you could but it’d be pointless). One advantage I like about novels though is that added freedom, and you have way more room. I was able to add back in some of my favorite parts of the story that there just wasn’t room for in the screenplay version of What the Water Gave Us when I rewrote it as a novel, and a novel has to be the whole house, it is the final product, where as with a screenplay it’s just the blueprints, so it’s not done until the film is done. So finishing a manuscript is much more satisfying than finishing a screenplay.

16. Why did you pick a virus to write about for WHAT THE WATER GAVE US?
It fit the plot. That’s not a very exciting answer but that’s what happened. If anyone wants to know what we’re taking about you can read the query for What the Water Gave Us here.  My original spark that inspired this novel was witnessing an event where someone did something many considered unforgivable, and then watching the fallout and reactions I got to thinking about the nature of guilt, and how it changes people. I also really wanted to address the ideas of being so blindingly focused on achieving a righteous sort of goal which for Anton is eradicating this virus that you will do things otherwise considered to be bad, but in the pursuit of something good. There are some things that we as a society like to think are only done by monstrous people, but if you look at history and real life, that’s not at all the case, and I think it’s really interesting and dramatic to explore the lives of characters walking those lines. I wanted someone with almost absolute power who is consciously aware of not wanting to be corrupted by it, and how probably the most pure thing about him, his love for his wife and family, that ultimately corrupts him for reasons that would give away a major spoiler, but that was generally what I wanted to write about. So as far as the virus goes, I needed both a reason these people had so much power, and I also needed to set up a moral conflict for Anton, and I just thought it was cool to have a family whose power came from immunity to a virus. Kind of taking the metaphor of the power being in your blood for royalty literally, because it really is an unimpeachable power it gives them, I think much more so than just oh we’re the monarchy it’s tradition and we have military might. It puts them in the position of being non-virtuous saviors, forced saviors. Plus epidemics have always fascinated me. One of my favorite books when I was in high school was The Hot Zone, about the marburg virus, which inspired some of the symptoms of the virus in my story.

17. What's your favorite screenplay you've ever written and why is it your favorite?
Probably What the Water Gave Us, because I like the characters so much, they are like my friends, but I also really like the musical I wrote based on the music by The Killers, and a new project I’ve been working on when I have the time, Young Blood, I rarely write comedy, but people are always encouraging me to, so this one is a dark comedy/ satire. It’s about a woman who is a very successful blogger whose blog is about hot college athletes. Some of the guys prominently featured on her site start turning up murdered right as she’s on the verge of hitting the big time (she’s gotten the opportunity to write a cover story for a major magazine about a rising college star) so even though the police easily figure out it’s not her, public opinion really drags her though the mud, so she works on clearing her name and gets pulled in deeper to the underlying drama behind the murders. Most of the stuff I get most excited about are because of the characters, I like to think about the most interesting people I could imagine and then write their stories.

18. What happened to the Pineapple Wafers?
They still exist, in our hearts and on random grocery shelves. (Seriously if your store has them or the coconut kind, try em, they’re amazing. Go goya!) For those who have no idea what we are talking about the Pineapple Wafers are a band I was in, though I use the word band loosely. We were really an Outhouse Racing team (it’s a huge 4th of July tradition in Bristol, VT, where you race outhouse shaped things on wheels down Main Street as hundreds of people cheer on and bet on the races to raise money for charity) pretending to be a band that sang comedy songs about snack foods, and then when we did well and won our heat and made it to the finals the newspaper and tv started interviewing us and the woman from the Seven Days paper in Vermont wanted us to send her some of our music. (No one realized it was all a joke) so instead of informing them it was a joke we went with it and went and wrote some songs about food and candy, filmed a music video, and sent it off, they used the song in the video about the race, and then also wrote a thing about us predicting that our music video would become a viral internet hit. We then filmed a few more videos. Good times had by all.
Here are some links that tell the story better.

Stale Starburst Love music video

Outhouse racing

If you feel like you must hear some of our other songs (be forewarned that our motto was No Talent? No Problem!)
We might film a few more videos someday. So yeah, my personality is kind of all over the map, the Pineapple Wafers is a good representation of my goofy side. It balances out the much more serious side I tend to show with what I write in my novels. I can be a little high strung sometimes and take things and myself too seriously so it’s good to let loose and be silly sometimes.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd like to know if Brighton is a fan of Save the Cat. That book is great for both screenplays and novels.

SC Author said...

Oooh, it is always interesting to see the mixing of two types of writing :) Good luck! (Hi Brighton :) )