All I’m thinking so far is that this will be a film about two foster kids, a boy and a girl, and we’ll shoot it in Idaho. Since I don’t know anything about the subject, I’ll rely on ideas from people who do. But also, this is simply a story of four people who just never got the love they needed in life, and how they deal with that. Sometimes rebelling, sometimes trying to control others, in ways either upfront or sneaky, but always—underneath—needing love, and trying to fulfill that need. In other words: like most of us.
Why This Film is a Dramedy
It would be easy to make a film that says “Look how bad this problem is.” But it’s my intention to create an uplifting film. Through comedy, I believe we can open people’s hearts and minds by making them laugh, and show a scenario of “Yes, there are problems, but there’s hope if we try together.” After all, isn’t that what life in general is about? On the other hand, if I write a pure comedy, people would surely accuse me of writing a 1960s Disney film—and rightly so. Therefore, dramedy it is. We’ll attempt to steer more toward comedy, though.
Anna (15-18) is a tough girl. She was on the boys’ high school wresting team, and was their best wrestler in her weight class, until she got kicked off the team for unsportsmanlike conduct. She’s angry sometimes, and feels like no one has ever really loved her, let alone understood her.
Boyd (13-14) is kind of innocent, a “nice kid.” He’s not good at sports, and he’s not very smart. In fact, testing has shown his IQ to be around 85. He generally brings a positive attitude to his interactions with others, though he is at the same time insecure and lacks confidence.
Peg (40s) has had a rough life, mostly through her own stubbornness. Now she just wants stability. And she achieved it. But then she found that life was lonely. When a social worker friend asks Peg to step up as a foster mom in this emergency situation, she says yes.
Lucy (30s) has had too many boyfriends—by her own assessment—and none of them particularly good. She’s had two abortions, and feels bad about that. She has given up on relationships—and even on trying to figure out whether it was her fault or the men’s. But she wanted a kid—or thought she did—so now she has Anna, and doesn’t know how to be the good mom she really wants to be.
Our DP Jason Ferrell will be scouting locations around Kamiah, Idaho in early December.
This film will be ultra low budget, which means I can finance it myself.
It’ll probably go something like this:
17-year-old Anna has had a shitty life as a foster kid, while 13-year-old Boyd has had a pretty decent foster experience. The best times for both of them were the three months they spent with foster parents Mary and David. But when Mary is injured in a car accident, David—not in the best health himself—has to take care of her full-time and also hold onto his job. He reluctantly tells the kids they’ll have to find new foster parents. Anna and Boyd offer to help out, but Anna has anger issues, and Boyd is “slow”—though not retarded or carrying any other diagnosis “label.” David knows he just wouldn’t be able to handle it all, and he has to put his wife first. He has faith that the system will find good temporary foster parents for Anna and Boyd until Mary recovers.
Anna ends up with her new foster mom, Peg, 50. Boyd ends up with Lucy, mid-30s. Boyd is the only person who ever made Anna feel loved, so she tries to take control and create her “perfect foster family” by bringing Boyd along when she and Lucy go on a wilderness vacation.
But Peg won’t give her permission for Boyd to go, so Anna lies, telling Boyd and Lucy that Peg said he could come along. When Peg comes home after work she panics when Boyd is gone. She grabs some gear and takes out after them.
Peg desperately searches for Boyd. She finally finds him, along with Anna and Lucy, and there is a nasty showdown, with everyone but Boyd drawn into an angry mess. They manage to patch things up and try to make this a real vacation, though tensions still simmer. When Anna falls and injures her leg trying an overly difficult climb, they all have to forget their conflicts and work together to get back to civilization and a hospital.
Themes I’d like to explore include: choice, freedom, trust. Learning to confidently follow a path even when you have no idea where it leads. Joy despite imperfection. Learning that it’s okay to make mistakes. On the surface, this film may seem to be about foster kids. But really, it’s about all of us.
Even though I don’t know the exact story yet, I’ll be writing random “test scenes” as I figure out who the characters are. Many will end up in the final script, while others may not.
Waking Up — Anna & Lucy
Hard — Anna & Lucy
Off the Team — Anna & Lucy
Producer: Patty Kelley
Writer/Director: Jonny Lewis
Cinematographer/Editor: Jason Ferrell
Grip/Gaffer: Bobby Fever
Boom operator: local crew
Patty Kelley as Peg, Luba Chan as Lucy, either Kobe Humphries or Kayden Humphries as Boyd.
Role of Anna is open. All ethnicities welcome to audition. We’ll look first in Idaho.
Local actors in 5-and-under roles (e.g., store clerk, one scene).
Possible cameos by Jonny, Jason, or Bobby if script developments warrant.