I may not place in the competition that I just entered but it was progress. I experienced some insight that I hadn't expected. I redrafted what was my artist statement and its tie to Chasing Daylight. And then I wrote a synopsis. If you ever want to shine light on the holes in your story, write a synopsis. This is the submission below, in a redraft. I reread it, began to rework it and it's improving, but not done. This is a reflection and an artist statement specific to Chasing Daylight.
Artist Statement: Chasing Daylight
Chasing Daylight, is a script that I have been nicking away at for a while, weekends and early mornings and more intensively during my sabbatical summers. Reflecting on my writing, I've come to see my thread of interest in the stories of age, the elderly. Stories where their joy, desire, pain and passion unfold truthfully, not neutered nor reduced to caricatures and comedy relief but the truth. Simply older bodies around the same adult mind. When my father suffered cancer… (be patient, this is probably not going where you think)...I witnessed many dramatic changes in a man who never napped, only took his shoes off when he went to bed, and fiddled about in the kitchen during tornado warnings while my mom and sister and I would take cover in the basement.
A walk to the basement even became a fantasy for him to hold on to during a frustrating transition into a life of caretakers. A quick trip up and down the stairs without a thought, get an onion, grab the box fan, was an ambition to do what he'd always done. It made me think about this as a last step of many: it’s the day a man can no longer run, the day a man discovers he is no longer allowed to drive a car, the day you can't leave the house, a radius that gets closer and closer to its center. Even my grandfather at his senior residence had his car parked outside the screened in porch just so he could see it.
On a visit home, I overheard my father in a series of phone calls where he essentially reunited with old friends in order to reconcile and say goodbye. Those reunions elicited fear, sadness, anger, joy, relief all in a very short window of time. This is not to say that I have an unsmiling or bleak outlook on age, but that I am fascinated to explore these topics using the concept of the diminishing picture of the life of a cowboy for Cooper, when cowboy was no longer viable.
This story of Cooper and Red is my imagination of a resolution, after a long time, an ember of betrayal that Cooper wants to confront his partner with before life resolves it for them. Fan it a little, see if it glows. I savor the drama in the unreliable nature of reunions. No one knows exactly how we will react. Are the feelings long gone or will they flame up again? Does the thirst for frontier justice burnout? Or can it be reignited in the face of a reunion? If it comes to retribution, how does it manifest, especially as an old man? Throwing a punch could be more damaging to the thrower than the recipient. This, I believe, results in more clever ways with which old men would seek justice.
Imagine The Shootist meets The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance in the desperate landscape of Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy. A man struggling with both his inner John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, a battle between a couple of the tall trees in the forest. Cooper desires a return to community in the last years of his life and Red wants to continue to hide in the very place that Cooper finds desirable. A bittersweet takeover of the role that Red had in the diner he was working/hiding. The audience should feel a sense of justice that tapers into the melancholy, in that, getting a place to live out the last days of his life is not quite as good as what it seemed when he set out to get it.