About the Script for Memory Of A Kiss

This film began with Alzheimer's. It's my second film in which dementia plays a part. I'm hoping that I don't feel compelled to do another film about dementia any time soon, but I'm happy to have this collaboration out in the world.

Durham writer and novelist Robert Wallace wrote a monthly column for the News & Observer. I read and appreciated a column he wrote about the silence of fathers. I sent him a kind of fan mail about the column. He looked up this web site and his interest was piqued by being contacted by a local filmmaker. We began a correspondence followed by lunch. He and I both wondered if one of his short stories might be a good text on which to base a short film. I read his stories and his novel. His novel is about a family whose father has dementia.

While he had't quit the day job when we made the film, Robert is a very accomplished writer. He has received an Emerging Artist grant from the Durham Arts Council, and a Writer s Fellowship from the NC Arts Council. He has had fiction and nonfiction published in various journals and newspapers, including the Bryant Literary Review, The Long Story, the NC Literary Review, Aethlon, The O. Henry Festival Stories, and the Raleigh News & Observer. His work has also been in several anthologies, including Racing Home: New Short Stories by Award Winning North Carolina Writers and, most recently, in Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand. His story As Breaks the Wave upon the Sea was the 2010 winner of the Doris Betts Fiction Prize. Wallace’s first novel, A Hold on Time, was published in 2007 by Paper Journey Press.

And then, as we were weighing the question of how a short film could be fashioned from one of his stories, he wrote a short play (ten-minute) First Kiss, which received recognition by a writers' group in Winston-Salem and he was asked to do staged reading to be held on the campus of Wake Forest University.

He asked me to direct the staged reading. For that staged reading, I recruited three great actors. And it felt like the right kind of piece to use for a short film. I invited the same three actors to work on the film and they were happy to tackle that. I set to work on a screenplay version. (I did make it clear to Bob that the screenplay had the potential to significantly mess around with the text of the play!)

First Kiss (working title) is a film about memory, aging, love that lasts and love that slips through our fingers. An elderly Mother returns from attending her 50th high school reunion. Her husband - in the early stages of dementia - has been home in the care of their adult son. As she recounts her evening, memories and desires carry us to the past and back to the harsh facts of the present.

I felt that the Son in the original play needed something going on in the film; I came up with the basic idea that he is thinking about leaving town with a girlfriend, but conflicted about how much his Mother needs him to help with his Father.

The concept was reasonable. Unfortunately, I think I jumped into production on the film before I had fully fleshed out this idea in the script. We got lovely moments and very good performances from all concerned. But, as I edited the film, I realized that I needed more and continued (April, August, December) to go back and shoot small scenes. I think I finally succeeded in finishing the "complete" film, with a name change reflecting a somewhat different emphasis.

My advice is to finish your screenplay before shooting the film!