Warren and I want a future for our screenplay. If Praxis rejects us, we have plan B, Plan C and Plan D ready. Last night, I imagined winning a place in Praxis’ film development program. Winning means I go to a five-day workshop with a director and actors (without Warren, sadly).
I made myself cry this morning answering these questions: “What kind of feeling or tone do you want your film to have? What film can you reference that has given you that feeling?”
My answer was: “I want audiences to feel as I felt at the end of Little Miss Sunshine.” In it you have a collection of oddballs you’d sensibly move mountains to avoid: Amongst them, a junkie grandfather, a hopelessly deluded and immature husband, a mute Goth son, and most hilarious of all, a post-breakdown expert on little but Proust. Yet after two hours with these train wrecks, I wanted more. So revisiting that film makes me feel as good as a visit to one of my closest friends who lives far away.
A writer did that. A writer created a flawed family that horrified on first impression and then stole your heart and soul. That writer and the film’s director helped us love people beyond their flaws and what better, more generous and loving purpose is there?
Little Miss Sunshine, to me, is about loving outsiders. It’s about finding beauty in the flawed and it’s a message I love. At least I am consistent. When I discovered The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks, I read every single book he wrote because like Michael Arndt (writer) and Jonathon Dayton and Valerie Faris (directors) of Little Miss Sunshine, he sees the person within, not their exterior—in his case, often incredibly diseased exteriors. He is a hero; they these generous and accepting people are heroes to me.
So, I want audiences to like everyone in my film, regardless of their flaws. I want to tell my story with understanding/affection.