Watch the December 2016 FAN FICTION Screenplay Winner.
||Best Scene from the screenplay THERESE (Sequel to 2015 Film CAROL) Screenplay
Written by Heidi Scott
NARRATOR – Gabriel Darku
CAROL – Kiran Friesen
Genre: Drama, Romance
The story takes place 5 years later in 1958, when their relationship has had time to ripen and gain complexity within the homophobic era. They have to be closeted, so their public and professional lives are discontinuous with who they are with each other. This causes high stakes, tension, and great potential for drama and character development.
What is your screenplay about?
THERESE is a sequel to the film and book Carol, which came out in 2015. The film ends with such raw possibility, and yet so many challenges for Carol and Therese, that the idea of extending it wouldn’t leave me alone.
I take up their story 5 years later in 1958, when their relationship has had time to ripen and gain complexity within the homophobic era. They have to be closeted, so their public and professional lives are discontinuous with who they are with each other. This causes high stakes, tension, and great potential for drama and character development.
I also wanted to explore a power reversal between the characters. In Carol, the Carol character is more dominant, powerful, elusive. But the end of the film hints at Therese gaining agency, and Carol’s love in effect making her suppliant to the younger woman. So THERESE is the arc of Therese as the more powerful, elusive figure, and Carol studying her. It echoes the subjectivity of Highsmith’s book, but in reverse.
What genres does your screenplay under?
Drama, romance, period piece.
Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
Just watch Carol, witness the mobs of critical and public adorers of the film, and ask yourself if the final scene in the Oak Room is enough for us. We need more. The allure of the ’50s aesthetic, which I update to mid-century modern through Carol’s work in furniture and Therese’s love of jazz music, creates a visual and aural world perfect for film. The chemistry between the leads is dripping electric. Of course, we’re talking about two of the world’s most in-demand actresses (Mara and Blanchett), a supporting actress who just won an Emmy (Paulson), and a celebrated director (Haynes), so it’s all high-profile, high-stakes, and potentially high-reward. But the world, including and beyond the LGBT community, wants to see this story evolve.
How would you describe this script in two words?
What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
I’m not embarrassed: The move Clue (1985), starring Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn, etc. So excellently funny and ridiculous no matter how many times. I saw it 3 times in the theater when it came out (I was 6), and since then … maybe another 144 times.
Second most: Carol. Twice in theater, since then, maybe 5 more times, with different combos of family and friends. Both 1950s movies!
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I drafted it this summer (May), revised (July), again in fall (October).
How many stories have you written?
Four screenplays: THERESE, a Jane Austen adaptation called DARCY’S DAYS, a Darwin biopic called THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE, and an original sci-fi script called LANDFILL. I’m trained as an academic (lit prof), so I’ve also published a book and a lot of articles, like academics do, and assorted poems.
What motivated you to write this screenplay?
Sheer excitement and love for the characters and source material. I also wanted to recover some of the character dynamics, high tension, and subjectivity in Patricia Highsmith’s book that weren’t much represented in the film Carol. I had to make sure that I was doing everything I could do as an individual human to make this story continue. So, mission accomplished. Does the world care? Yet to be determined. It’s really hard to get any attention from producers as an outsider in an exclusive and competitive business.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
Staying true to their love for each other without wallowing in lovey-dovey. I want it to be edgy and exciting. But I didn’t want either woman to degrade into bitchiness. That’s a hard balance to strike. Fortunately, their world presents challenges that make their character arcs believable, and their joys and griefs complementary.
Oh, and having a new baby. I mostly wrote during her naps and late at night.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
My kids (ages 3 and 0) and wife, teaching literature, nature, travel, film. The human experience. Musing about environmental futures. I live in DC, so we’re at the epicenter of this ornery cultural climate.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Zora Neale Hurston said something like: “there is no agony like holding an untold story inside you.” I agree. Let it out, let it breathe. Revise. Up the ante. It’ll make you a more complete person, more empathetic. We need all the empathy we can get in this strange world of 2016.