WILDsound 2010 Spring Feature Screenplay Finalist - GLEN ROCKWOOD
1. What is your screenplay about?
"William Furey" begins in St. John's in 1987, a time when many gay men living with HIV/AIDS were leaving Newfoundland because of a lack of AIDS services in the province. Or they were returning home. The various drugs they were taking were no longer effective, and they wanted to be with family and friends before they died.
The film explores the friendship between William Furey, a local photographer, and Joseph White, a performer with a background in theatre clown. When William tests positive for HIV, he decides to sell his business and move to Toronto. A year and a half later, William, who had been living in a rooming house, invites Joseph to spend some time with him in his new co-op apartment. Joseph flies to Toronto, not realizing that William needs more from him than a summer of companionship.
2. Why did you decide to write this screenplay?
The story began as a short film script when I was a student in Humber College's Film and Television Program (2000-2003). I'm not sure why I decided to write this particular story; I don't recall how the idea came to me. But I had lived in Toronto during the early 1990s when the country was in a recession, and I met a lot of Newfoundland boys who were living with HIV/AIDS. Many of them I hadn't known previously. Almost all of them have since passed away. Actually, every male character in "William Furey" has the first or last name of someone I knew who died from AIDS. I'm glad I had the opportunity in college to write about that period of time.
3. How long have you been writing screenplays?
Since Humber College. Prior to college I had a fair bit of experience writing and directing for the theatre.
In my second year at Humber, a man named Robert O'Meara taught the scriptwriting course. He was well liked by the students and was very encouraging to me. I left college with a collection of short-film scripts that could easily be adapted into feature-length screenplays.
4. What is your favorite movie of all-time?
I find it really difficult to pick favourites; I've seen so many films that I loved. But I will say that Hanif Kureishi's film "My Beautiful Launderette," which I first saw in one of Toronto's revue cinemas, made me think that I could write for film. I loved his characters and the way he blended his themes of racism, sexuality, unemployment, and Thatcherism.
5. What artist in the industry would you love to work with?
That's a hard question. There are so many talented people in the film industry. But I would love to work with Deepa Mehta. I've seen her interviewed on CBC Newsworld twice. She's a person of integrity, very committed to her art. I loved her film "Water." She had a difficult time making that film, but she managed to rise above adversity and got the movie shot and into cinemas.
I would also love to work with Sarah Polley. She's a creative, multi-talented person. I really enjoyed "Away from Her." I thought Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie were great.
Working with Mike Nichols would be a treat. The man has a vast amount of experience directing for film, theatre, and TV. He's won Tony, Oscar, and Emmy awards, and actors like working with him.
If Billy Wilder were alive, I would love to be a part of a film he was working on.
6. Who was your hero growing up?
Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. But not just Sondheim. I like all the writers he collaborated with: Arthur Laurents, George Furth, James Goldman, Hugh Wheeler, John Weidman, and James Lapine.
When I was in high school, I had to contend with homophobia, so I would skip school as often as I could. I'd go to the public library or the university library and read the scripts for Sondheim's shows, as well as reviews and related articles. I've always had a taste for musical theatre, but the shows Sondheim collaborated on were daring and risky, musically and thematically. The writers were always reaching for something new. Many of these productions had a cinematic sweep to them, especially the ones directed by Harold Prince.
I left high school not knowing a thing about algebra or geometry, but I learned the importance of finding your own artistic voice and taking chances.
7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
Ideally, I would like to be writing and directing my own work for theatre and film.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
I like working four or five hours a day on a script, but I prefer to break up the time: an hour or 2 in the morning, maybe work on a script in a quiet cafe during the afternoon, then 2 solid hours at night.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Reading plays and screenplays. I love checking out the second-hand bookstores for scripts. I'll read any screenplay I can get my hands on, even one for a film I'm not crazy about. I like seeing how writers handle character and plot development, how they structure their story and describe action, and how they convey thoughts and emotions without using dialogue.
I enjoy reading novels and biographies. I'm into yoga, and I love riding my bike when the weather's good. I enjoy listening to music and drinking cold beer.10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?
The feedback. And knowing industry people would get to hear the script. I also like having a deadline. The script always reaches a higher level there's a deadline to meet. Work gets done.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
If you have an idea you believe in, stick with it. It can be daunting sitting alone in a room writing day after day, hoping that your work will resonate with people. If you find yourself staring at the computer screen, not sure what to write next, get up and move around. Physical movement can generate ideas. Read your script out loud. Act it out.
Find someone who's willing to read a draft or two of your script and give you some feedback. Try to hold a reading of your screenplay. Get a few people together, sit around a table, and spend an afternoon reading the script. You'll benefit from hearing your work read aloud. Have coffee and treats on hand. People will appreciate the gesture, and you'll have a successful reading.