Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Okay -- the post title is misleading. I'm not actually speaking of my recent film, The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah, which is still seeking distribution (and being considered for same by unnamed distribs).

I'm actually speaking about an indie film I wrote several years ago. Monsters Don't Get to Cry (IMDb) was shot in 2003, completed in 2004, and has been seeking distribution ever since. It tells the story of the aftermath of a school shooting, wherein a grieving father kidnaps and tortures the young high school student who killed his daughter.

It has achieved DVD distribution in Japan, and I'm told negotiations are underway with several US distributors.

I wrote the script, adapting it from a full-length play I wrote for my final MFA requirement. That in itself was an interesting process. The director, Kurando Mitsutake, wanted to, as he put it, put my "dialogue on a diet" to trim it down from its theatrical style. In truth, not only do I now agree with his assessment of the dialogue -- I think we could have (should have?) cut it down even more.

It was a very, very talky play, and that was intentional. I wanted to write something with a lot of speeches and monologues, and I wanted to just cut loose with dialogue. It was also my first full-length play -- I had wanted to write something that I could actually see produced, albeit on the stage. And, naturally, before it could ever get on the stage, a director read it and liked it, and it became a movie. Irony.

I've gotten the overly talky script out of my system, and I'm conflicted about the script now. It was written as a cathartic expression of my own anger -- as a young father at the time, with two young daughters -- in response to multiple school shootings around the country. I was trying to explore my own anger and evaluate the eventual endpoint of that anger. Perhaps it was my way of exorcising that response. I don't know. But I wonder now if it is too raw an expression of that grief and anger for it to connect with viewers.

It's weird -- I had sort of given up on this film getting distribution, and now it's finally getting out there. It makes you wonder how long these things really take to come to complete fruition. I was starting to feel like ...an American Messiah was getting long in the tooth, but I just completed it in 2006, and it's still screening in film festivals!

Anyway, I'm not sure this will yield any money for me, the lowly writer on the project, but perhaps it will yield some other good things. And I'm pleased to see it getting off the shelf.


Anonymous Jonathan said...

Well, congrats on that, Chris. I'll definitely look for it to review. Keep us posted on when it comes out.

I understand about not being satisfied with the dialogue. Most good writers are continually re-writing and wanting to change things even after it is locked.

If you have new ideas and a new style you need to try out, then write a new script. It could even cover similar thematic ground. (Maybe even make it a comedy this time.)

4/12/2007 9:20 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

If and when it gets US distribution, I'll be sure to post it here...

I'm kind of past that anger now (I still have little kids, so it does boil up every now and then)... so I'm working different issues in my life into my work!

4/12/2007 1:46 PM  

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