“It’s 3D, but not the D’s you’re expecting”
In which two professional filmmakers/screenwriting professors attempt to break story on a film adaptation of Sweet Valley High Book 60: THAT FATAL NIGHT.
A NOT-TOO-TERRIBLE TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE FOLLOWS
Extra Drama #60: The Ken Matthews Story
[00:00:00] Marissa: It's extra drama for book number 60 that fatal night. Hey everybody. It's me. Your host, Marissa Flaxbart. And I'm joined again by William J Stribling. Hi, I call you will though. That's fine. Although sometimes I call you Joe, but I always feel a little bit like, I'm kidding when I call you Joe. Cause that's like not how I do natural.
No, but people call you Joe. Sometimes some people, some people. How do you feel about it?
[00:00:41] Will: Uh, I like my first name.
[00:00:43] Marissa: Yeah, I like it too. Okay, well, that's good to know. I'll keep calling you Will then. Will and I are together in person, which is why this episode probably sounds a little bit different than some of them have lately.
We have been in person more lately than I have been in person with most people
[00:01:00] Will: This year in general.
[00:01:02] Marissa: Yeah, not lately so much as this year because we made a movie together, made a movie, and that was exciting and continues to be exciting because now is the part where maybe people will get to see it, presumably, uh,
[00:01:15] Will: whether they like it or not.
They'll see it,
[00:01:17] Marissa: uh, you know, it won't be for everybody, but know what movie is it? Did they, but I bet not. Well, how do you think the world at large would feel about the movie? of Ken Matthews' story.
[00:01:32] Will: I think it's too much in today's climate. I feel like that, uh, it would be asking a lot of an audience to get behind this premise of this boy.
There's ways we can amend the story and make it appropriate for today's audiences. But as I mentioned in the episode, I feel like he both Ken, he is unfairly punished with the car accident and the blindness, both of which are kind of writing. You know, like they're, they're very random. He's not in any control of his, his fate.
He wasn't doing something he shouldn't have been doing, and this is the cautionary tale, but when he gets his sight back at the end, he also doesn't deserve that. It's just as random and, and undeserved. Um, so that's where I sit with with the story. I feel like people would, would roll their eyes and groan.
Obviously we can, we could go hard into the like satirical angle and, and, and play it for comedy or play it straight. And in playing it straight, it is funny.
[00:02:30] Marissa: I have always thought that would be a really funny way to do a Sweet Valley High, like TV show, would be to make it like intensely earnest and like over the top.
And then it would be really funny because it would sort of be like a self-parody almost. Yeah, like the moment at the end of the movie or episode or whatever, where he sort of sees the light from the sunset. It's like reading. You know, it's like touching in its way, but I think it's easy to picture it.
Like you said, in the main episode that you could hear the music, swelling and everything, when they reunite
[00:03:05] Will: She runs into his arms and then they kiss and then it's, you know, there's a sunset happening. It's very cinematic what's going on here.
[00:03:12] Marissa: It is. And you know, what else is in...? Yeah, sorry. I was having two thoughts at once and one of the thoughts was like, it would be really easy to make it so over the top that it's ridiculous.
And then it wouldn't be that much harder to push on that to make it ridiculous on purpose in a way that's funny,
[00:03:30] Will: just the premise that this guy's life is totally ruined because he's blind now? It's, it's a little dicey. It's like, being blind is not a death sentence. And he would, what do you need to see for he wasn't reading. This kid
wasn't reading. I feel like that there's a pitch of this film where he comes to terms with his blindness and becomes the world's first blind quarterback.
[00:03:56] Marissa: But that's actually what I thought you were going to say. And then I thought, oh, you weren't going to say it. And I'm going to tell you what I thought you were going to say, it's going to be so funny.
But then you said, when I thought you were originally going to say, yes, that's the way this movie should go. So the sunset thing doesn't happen. We cut the sunset moment.
[00:04:11] Will: Right. Or put it later. It happens later.
[00:04:13] Marissa: It happens later after he. Like, or with Terry's help. Oh, because Terry is so good at football, she knows all about football, not just stats, but like what they mean and what the players do.
So they're doing all this running on the beach. So they start kind of come up with a system for how she can like throw the ball and,
[00:04:30] Will: and they're inspired by a dolphin that they see in the water and they train him with echolocation.
[00:04:35] Marissa: can see dolphins at the Pacific ocean sometimes.
[00:04:38] Will: And he learns to harness echolocation to play football and.
And then his teammates all have to wear metal plates underneath their uniforms, so he can tell who's on his team and who's not on his team so he can throw the ball at...at those...
[00:04:54] Marissa: The metal plates make a sound?
[00:04:56] Will: Well,
they will kick back a reverberation that sounds different than the other team, which are not wearing the metal.
[00:05:03] Marissa: His ears are just really finely tuned at this point.
[00:05:05] Will: He's gone full dolphin.
[00:05:07] Marissa: Okay. So he, you know, on a football team, you know, before they do the pass, the quarterback has this thing where he's like,
[00:05:17] Will: Hut, hut...
[00:05:19] Marissa: Yeah, so can, can remain the quarterback, but he just says, he's just calling out "hut hut" all the time. Yeah.
And that was how he can hear the difference in the reverberations and throw these like beautiful passes. And I mean, like he knows how to throw a pass.
[00:05:34] Will: Right.
[00:05:34] Marissa: So as long as he knows the general direction of the throwing pass, then it's on the other teammates, right.
[00:05:39] Will: To like pick up the slack. Yeah.
[00:05:42] Marissa: Okay, this is good. This is good. So another cinematic scene is the Terry discovering what it's like to blind.
[00:05:52] Will: We could expand that. And I think right now it's a little underwritten. It's just her and her room with a scarf around her head. And then she goes into the kitchen and spills some juice. I think the book is short enough that if this were a movie that would need to be a full sequence where Terry goes to school and pretends to be blind and offends everybody.
[00:06:11] Marissa: Right. Including Ken, right? Cause Ken can be like, what do you think? You know, you're making fun of me.
[00:06:16] Will: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely.
[00:06:18] Marissa: Are the Wakefields in the movie?
[00:06:20] Will: They have to be a bit, I feel like Elizabeth creates so much of the plot just in her phone calls. The things she accomplishes to push the story forward.
She's gotta be there.
[00:06:31] Marissa: she's like a mover and a shaker, right? She's connecting people, connecting situations.
[00:06:36] Will: Jessica is a superfluous character in this one. She's off in the background doing her own thing. Is she dating someone in this book?
[00:06:44] Marissa: No, cause she goes on that date with Skip Harmon, but maybe we can use Skip Harmon somehow because he's not really utilized in the book other than like, as an excuse as to why Jessica wants to leave
the party with Elizabeth and Todd, which therefore puts her in the right position to see the accident.
[00:07:03] Will: Well, I think that Skip Harmon gets cast in the school play, which is an original that the theater teacher is inspired to do based on the story of their blind quarterback and skip plays Ken in the.
[00:07:17] Marissa: Ooh.
[00:07:18] Will: Because he, I mean, he, he's not an actor, but he sees himself as a superstar.
So of course they tap into that level of...
[00:07:27] Marissa: The drama teacher, incidentally, Mr. Jaworsky. Pretty close to Jablonksi!
[00:07:34] Will: Hey Jablonski! It feels like something you would say,
[00:07:37] Marissa: Oh! I mean, Ron Ja-who would play Ron Jablonski?
[00:07:40] Will: We never know. We only ever hear him. Because when we're in the sequence of the film, that's at the, uh, the rehab facility is fully silent or sorry....
Black, I guess? So. Okay. Pictureless. Not silent. The
opposite of silent.
[00:07:56] Marissa: Over black, we hear the sounds of a facility
[00:08:00] Will: The inverse of The Sound of Metal, a fantastic film that's streaming on Amazon with Riz Ahmed
Have you seen it?
[00:08:06] Marissa: I actually haven't watched it yet, but I know that I should. It's just
[00:08:10] Will: But he goes deaf and then he goes to, uh, uh, it's not a camp.
It's a, it's not really a school either. It's it's a place. Yeah, there are other deaf people that help him learn how to be deaf. But the main mentor figure is a deaf person in that film. And I feel like Ron Jablonski should probably also be a blind person,
[00:08:33] Marissa: Even though he is not in the book
[00:08:35] Will: In the book, they make it very clear that he is not blind.
And I think in the movie version that we're making Ron Jablonski should probably be blind as well.
[00:08:43] Marissa: Sure, I like that.
[00:08:44] Will: To set an example.
[00:08:45] Marissa: I do think that if we go too artsy with it, whuh it's a real choice that we're making, that might, uh, undercut the other direction of pushing it so far, that it's comedy.
[00:08:57] Will: We're going to counteract that with the 4d experience, because we want you to be able to have heightened senses in this sequence.
So we're going to bring in smells.
[00:09:07] Marissa: Okay. So...
[00:09:07] Will: to the theater.
[00:09:08] Marissa: ...that's the fourth D?
[00:09:09] Will: That's the fourth, is smell
[00:09:11] Marissa: I was going to say, cause sometimes isn't... 4D usually has like shaking seats?
[00:09:16] Will: It might still just be 3d. Cause we're taking one D away.
[00:09:20] Marissa: It's 3d, but it's not the D's you're expecting. Yeah, this is good.
This is good. It's. Yeah. Yeah, I, is there a 4D thing where like you can get water sprayed in your face?
[00:09:34] Will: Yeah. It's water sprayed in your face. It smells and like rumble seat.
[00:09:40] Marissa: There is, there are smells and 4D in. Normally I have you ever been on, um, Soarin', California Adventure?
[00:09:48] Will: Yeah, many times. Yeah.
[00:09:49] Marissa: I went on it for the first time, uh, earlier this year, uh, when Disneyland reopened. We went one day, like on a Wednesday, this is sort of like pre Delta. Yeah.
[00:10:01] Will: But there was a tiny window in there where. It's safe to go out and
[00:10:06] Marissa: in a place like that, I mean, everybody has to wear a mask and honestly, they were really strict, strict about it. They're one of the people in our party, like had her mask off while we were walking to like, take a drink of water.
And he was like, you can't do that. You have to let me not like you can't, you just have to go to a designated area to do. Um, even though it's all outside. But there are so many people around. And so they have to have strict rules, I guess, anyway, not to make this about Disneyland, but Soarin' has a really, I wasn't, I didn't know anything about it.
So I was excited to experience the smell dimension of it.
[00:10:38] Will: It's like orange Grove or something that you, right? Yeah.
[00:10:42] Marissa: There's like, I mean, there's some of it's pretty fakie, but there's a rose by the Taj Mahal. And there was a sort of like ocean smell, like, but it's like ocean cologne smell when you're by the ocean.
But a lot of it is, is very, it's still was cool. Cause I, yeah, I like smells. Good smells. Bad smells I don't like. I really don't like them. Well, I think this is a great idea, but could we have the seats lift up out of the air? Is there any reason for that?
[00:11:11] Will: Um, when, when Ken is being lifted on people's shoulders, when he wins the football match,
[00:11:18] Marissa: the first one or the one, the after he is the blind quarterback?
[00:11:22] Will: I think we slowly dial up the Ds in our 4d experience as the film goes on.
[00:11:28] Marissa: Well, there is a moment in the book when there's a question of, um, maybe if can, does well enough for the rest of the season- this is before the accident. Maybe he'll be able to beat the record. Just one kid's record of how many touchdowns in a season?
[00:11:46] Will: Completed passes? Runs? Foot...balls?
[00:11:49] Marissa: It was... the number was low, like nine.
So what could it have been? But whatever it was like, that doesn't matter. It, it sets up a certain kind of stakes, right? For Ken,
[00:11:58] Will: he's got a goal that he's trying to hit by the end of this season.
[00:12:01] Marissa: Right. And so we feel the loss for Ken when those stakes fall through, but it never gets brought up.
[00:12:08] Will: It certainly does not.
[00:12:09] Marissa: It's just like, "oh, I can't play anymore." Not, "I'm not going to hit that goal." And so the Gladiators aren't going to have an undefeated season maybe. And then. The game that he goes to with Terry's in the last second. Yeah. But he kind of realizes that he can handle it. Like football's not everything.
[00:12:25] Will: Yeah. Football's not everything. Is nice.
[00:12:27] Marissa: Football is NOT life
[00:12:28] Will: is not life. Is that a Friday night lights thing? Football.
[00:12:31] Marissa: Football is life is a Ted Lasso thing.
[00:12:34] Will: Different football though.
[00:12:35] Marissa: Yeah, that's right. Well, we did it. We did it. We'll get right to work on this. Our follow up project
[00:12:42] Will: Sold in the room, as they say.
[00:12:44] Marissa: To whom though?
Well, that's when you're an independent filmmaker, you don't have to sell anybody.
[00:12:49] Will: I'm sold.
[00:12:50] Marissa: Just do what you want and then ask people to give you money.
[00:12:53] Will: Um, speaking of giving us money, uh, you can Venmo us
[00:12:57] Marissa: Yeah we just set up a Komodo...
Sweet Valley Venmo?
Oh yeah. I was thinking for the, for the movie
[00:13:03] Will: I was to trying to make you some money.
[00:13:05] Marissa: Well, we'll, I'll have to look into that. It would be great if people could, could give me some money and maybe in the future, I will find a way for that to be,
[00:13:11] Will: This is the thing that I've seen lately driving around the streets of Los Angeles, graduations, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, and the like.
The "just married" type cars you write in soap, kind of on the windshield. People are writing their Venmo handle. So the like strangers can, and passers by can send the money.
[00:13:34] Marissa: Wow. I don't know how to feel about that.
[00:13:36] Will: I don't either, but part of me wanting to pull out my phone while I was driving and just send like a dollar to this random person and say congrats,
[00:13:44] Marissa: but like, couldn't, you then get bombarded with a bunch of like requests for money that you have.
[00:13:50] Will: Maybe. Yeah, you're right.
[00:13:53] Marissa: I would be worried about like publicizing venmo, which, I mean, I've seen a lot of that lately
[00:13:57] Will: but I also just want to put mine on my car and see, there's no reason I'm not celebrating anything. I don't deserve this.
[00:14:06] Marissa: Come up with a way to trick the DMV and make it your license plate, VNMO...
[00:14:11] Will: WJS?
[00:14:12] Marissa: There's not enough room. I just put them on a bumper sticker. You can put it right next to your "love gladiators."
[00:14:18] Will: "Honk if you love to read cake."
[00:14:23] Marissa: Yeah. Well, Will, thank you so much for this wonderful brainstorm session and for being, you know, such a powerful creative mind,
[00:14:29] Will: anytime, see...
[00:14:30] Marissa: And for doing the podcast
[00:14:31] Will: See y'all again in four years.
[00:14:33] Marissa: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Gladiators. We will not be gone for long here on Sweet Valley Diaries because there's some business to attend to in the near future.
Some things I want to talk about and that I'm gonna, you know, have some more bonus episodes about, and you know, a little book called Lila's Story, maybe some other kind of odds and ends that we need to take care of. So I won't be gone for long and I will also still be around at sweet valley diaries on Instagram at sweet valley on Twitter. And you can email me sweet valley firstname.lastname@example.org. Bye!