Tag Archives: dennis scullard

The Lonesomes #15 – Honesty

Snapshot 1 (06-02-2012 12-15 PM)

Click the pic to watch The Lonesomes #15 – 3:36

Honesty

A brief conversation with an old friend prevents a lifetime of confusion.

Reid Dickie

Script

NARRATOR

I used to stand in that big showroom window and wonder where all the customers were. People drove by but not many stopped in. Cassie, my wife, took care of the storefront and the books and I did the repair work in the garage in the back. We were a good team, at least that’s what I thought.

One Saturday night, when Cassie was visiting her sister in the city, my old buddy Hutch and I were watching the game. Between periods I was telling Hutch about how poorly the garage was doing and how confused I was about why it wasn’t doing better. I guessed that people in Marshallville didn’t think I was a very good mechanic and maybe I needed to find another line of work.

HUTCH

It’s not you.

NARRATOR

What do you mean, Hutch?

HUTCH

It’s not your work that’s causing your business to fail.

NARRATOR

Really? What is it then? (PAUSE)

HUTCH

It’s your wife. (PAUSE)

NARRATOR

Cassie! What do you mean?

HUTCH

Cassie…exactly. To be blunt with you, my friend…people don’t like her. She came from the city and though you and she may not think so, she looks down on people here. At least that’s the impression she leaves. She’s not (PAUSE) small town stuff; she’s from (PAUSE) elsewhere, a square peg.

NARRATOR (FLABBERGASTED)

People treat me just fine, treat…us just fine!

HUTCH

They’re just being polite. How many times you two been invited over to anybody’s house but mine for dinner? I’m guessing, none. How often do you both go out to events in town? Almost never. People don’t see you anywhere but at the garage. You need to circulate, participate in the life of the town.

NARRATOR

Cassie doesn’t like those kind of… (PAUSE)

As I got us both another beer, it was beginning to sink in but Hutch wasn’t done yet.

HUTCH (FAKE DISBELIEF)

Do you want me to believe that you moved to the city for a few years and forget how people around here think? What their expectations are? You come from here. It’s in your blood but you forgot. (LIGHT, A LITTLE TAUNTING) Love made you blind to what’s going on around you and to what’s always been going on here. It’s the same old story in this town. Nothing has changed, nothing ever will.

NARRATOR

So…I…am a good mechanic?

HUTCH

People think so. I know so. It’s your situation that keeps you from succeeding here. You’re the rose and Cassie is the thorn. You cancel each other out in this town.

NARRATOR

When Cassie got back from the city, we discussed our situation. A month later I started a real estate course, something I thought I’d be good at and I was. We moved to the city and had a happy and prosperous life together. I left that little town knowing I was a good mechanic but I never did tell Cassie what Hutch said.

I still feel enormous gratitude to my old friend for giving me the perspective I needed at exactly the right moment.

Sometimes friends save your life and don’t even know it.

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Character Backstory

The aging Narrator is recounting this story from his younger days. It recalls a milestone in his life, a pivotal moment. He tells his story with wistfulness yet reverence for its magnitude in his life. His gratitude to his friend is sincere and, perhaps, overdue.

Hutch and the Narrator were good friends at some point in the past and may still be. We don’t know. We do know that the Narrator is beholden to Hutch and feels that telling his story will help purge his gratitude, to find an outlet of expression that satisfies the depth and truth of his thankfulness.

The set-up in the first two paragraphs (under 130 words) is quick and simple. We get the characters, their relationship and the situation immediately in easy-to-understand terms. But don’t rush the audience’s understanding. Give the story room to move, to grow. Give the audience a chance to figure out what they are seeing.

As a counterpoint to the lonesome empty building, the tone of the actors is generally happiness, of friendship and sharing with good humour. Some drama occurs on Narrator’s part with his disbelief about the cause of poor sales but it, too, is good-natured and familiar. Deep in his heart, the Narrator knows Hutch is right and this is the moment he must end his denial and proceed with life. It’s truly a Get Real moment.

This is based on fact, sort of. A friend who grew up with me in Shoal Lake, married a city woman and they lived in the little town, with varying degrees of success. My story has a happier ending.

Wanting to reinforce the value of true friendship I came up with the story as a homage to lifelong relationships. Hutch, the old friend who didn’t leave home, says nothing ever changes in small towns but everything, all the changes we’ve just watched in every episode of The Lonesomes, refutes his words.

Dennis Scullard plays the grateful friend and eloquently brought the wisdom of the long view into sight. Watch Dennis’ demo reel. Dear friend Troy Buschman voices the younger Hutch.

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Location Information

This scene has a very structuralist feeling to it, an accidental modernist construct on a vacant building in a dying town.

The old garage is in Decker, Manitoba south of Shoal Lake. Several things appealed to me about the place: the greyness of the walls and boards, the smashed window with the perfect arc visible above the hoarding and the horizontal ladder. My two shots of the place were enough to accommodate the conversation. In the story, Marshallville is its location.

In the first and principal scene, we see the boarded up storefront of a long abandoned garage with a broken window covered by several planks and a horizontal ladder. As well as being an interesting solution to the broken window problem, the horizontal ladder is a large metaphor for lateral movement in small towns as they decline.

The second scene (above) is a medium close-up of the broken window with its perfect arc and the ladder dividing the scene a different way. The neutral dusted-out colours of the wood and the building suggest and reinforce the place’s and the town’s ongoing deterioration. Though dimmed by being reflected, the trees moving in the breeze are the only vivid colours, again suggesting what once was here.

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The Lonesomes #6 – Luke’s Truck

Snapshot 1 (06-07-2012 9-37 PM)

Click the pic to watch The Lonesomes #6 – 2:19

Luke’s Truck

A father commemorates his son’s birthday in a vehicular way.

Reid Dickie

Script

ELDERLY MAN

I bought that Chevy half ton from Steve Twerdun. Me and Mary had just got hitched and we needed solid farm transportation. That Chev was a fine piece of truck. People noticed me when I drove it into Marshallville back when it was shiny and new (PAUSE) and I was shiny and new.

Luke, our first born, was conceived in that truck. It was a hot day in late August and me and Mary were drivin’ home from seeing her parents about an hour away. We stopped for a pee by the road when a prairie storm come up with thunder and lightning. It rained hammers and nails. We couldn’t see to drive so we had wild sex in the steamed up truck by the side of the road.

The next May when Mary went into labour, she woke me at three in the morning. We got two-thirds of the way to the hospital in town and she gave birth, right into the tote bag she had her clothes in. Luke just slid right out of her and into the bag. So he was born in that truck, too.

Seventeen years later on an August night Luke drove the truck into a soft embankment, uprooting a tree which came through the side window impaling his head. He died in the truck, quivering at the end of a broken branch. (PAUSE)

(STARTS TO SOB) I leave Luke’s truck up there to remind me and the sky what happened. (TRYING TO GAIN CONTROL) He’d a bin fifty years old…today. (SOBS)

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Character Backstory

This deep memory piece aspires to be a great country song loaded with irony and poignancy. An elderly man, 33 years after his son’s death, still grieves every day for his lost child. The old truck, slowly sinking into the prairie atop a rise, harbours his most significant memories starting when he was first married.

The first three paragraphs are delivered almost happily as he recalls the events of the story. In the first paragraph he sets the scene and remembers the shiny, new truck with delight but a bit of sadness creeps in when he says “And I was shiny and new” indicating his advanced age.

The second paragraph he delivers a little sheepishly but with enjoyment of the memory of the day Luke was conceived. The third paragraph again is a pleasant memory if somewhat surprising for the birth in the truck and the ease of it all.

The fourth paragraph is matter-of-fact, deadpan as if he is trying to hold back the emotion of the event. He is still stunned by it. The stark image of his impaled son is followed by a pause so the audience can realize Luke was conceived, born and died in the truck they are seeing. How horrible!

The final paragraph is the kicker. The truck is his personal memorial to his lost son, the object that still connects him every day with Luke. His voice is clogged with emotion as he speaks the second last line. After a pause, the last line is charged with cruel memory as he reports the special nature of the day. The pause between “fifty years old” and “today” and the way “today” is delivered are the keys to the story’s success. He has a hard time getting out the last line before he breaks down and sobs after the story is over. It’s an emotionally charged ending that shouldn’t feel manipulative but honest and sincere.

Since the background sound will only be the sound of the prairie wind whispering through the grass, this has much potential to be maudlin. I want to avoid that. I want the audience to see that although it’s a sad story and he is still heartsick over his loss, there is an underpinning of acceptance of how life is.

Dennis Scullard  gave a superior performance as the still-grieving father expressing his deep and incurable sorrow, just emotional enough. Dennis is evolving into a very good actor and his roles are getting larger. Watch his demo reel.

Luke’s Truck contains the first mention of Marshallville which looms large later in The Lonesomes once we get to town life.

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Location Information

This old half ton was a familiar site to me from my sacred site tours as it sits at the bottom of the rise below the buffalo effigy in extreme southern Saskatchewan, again about a mile from Montana.

I love how the truck dominated the landscape while deteriorating comfortably into the prairie soil. I shot it twice on two separate trips, once with the hood open and once with the hood closed. 

The truck belonged to Ralph Rasmussen who grew up on the family homestead just below the buffalo effigy. I met Ralph several times on my trips and have written about him on my blog. He told me his interesting history of the sacred site as well as his family background in the area. Ralph has since passed away but his truck still sits atop the same rise where he parked it years ago. Other than my use of his old truck, the fictional story of Luke has nothing to do with Ralph Rasmussen.

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