Monday, January 14, 2013

Emmy winning Screenwriter, George Arthur Bloom opens up to DADsquared about his new film Any Day Now, Gay Rights and the Power of Patience.





DADsquared
George, to begin with... I thank you for this opportunity and your time, I'm truly honored.

George Arthur Bloom
I'm grateful that you want to help get this wonderful story out.





















DS
Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?


G.A.B.
I've been a freelance writer for the past 40 years.  Before that I worked for MCA/Universal Studios in a production capacity, and subsequently went on to work for a company called AIP.  We made low budget, exploitation movies like Vincent Price horror movies, Hells Angel motorcycle movies and Beach Blanket Bingo.  After that I chose to move to the other side of the desk and began to write for a living.  I sold a few screenplays and did episodic television.  I got into children’s television in 1980 and have over 300 writing credits.  I developed and wrote the My Little Pony series and Movie, and wrote the first 4 episodes of Transformers.  In later years I was the head-writer on Magic School Bus.  After that I was the head writer on a series for WNET/PBS called Cyberchase, for which I won an Emmy.  My movie Any Day Now was filmed in the spring of 2011, and released in theatres beginning December 2012.























DS
The screenplay for Any Day Now was based on a true story, correct?  How much creative license were you given or is it quite factual?

G.A.B.
The screenplay for Any Day Now was inspired by a true story – not based on a true story.  I wrote the original script 30 years ago.  A friend of mine in NY introduced me to a gay man named Rudy.  Rudy lived on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn.  At that time, Atlantic Ave was pretty rundown.  It has been gentrified since then.  Rudy lived in a tiny apartment and had very little money.  He befriended a 12-year old boy who lived a few blocks away.  The boy had been abandoned by his druggie/prostitute mother, and lived with his grandmother.  The grandmother didn’t do much to provide for the boy, who didn’t speak.  I’m guessing he was Autistic, but there was no money to do anything about it.  Rudy would bring the boy to his apartment, see to it that he was properly clothed and fed, and he did what he could to get him into school.  He practically raised him.  That is where reality ended and my writer’s imagination took over.  After spending time with Rudy and the boy, I got to wondering what would happen if Rudy decided to adopt him.  I did my research and spoke to a number of people about the problems a gay man would have adopting a boy.  Remember, this was 1980.  The times were a lot different then, although we still have a long way to go.  Several months later I had a screenplay.

DS
 How long did it take to finally hit the big screen?

G.A.B.
The short answer is 32 years.  How it happened is a good story in itself.  My son, PJ, is one of the top Music Supervisors in LA, as well as a record producer and publisher.  Among other shows, PJ is the Music Supervisor on GLEE.  Travis Fine, the director of Any Day Now, made another independent movie 3 years ago called THE SPACE BETWEEN.  Travis and PJ were friends in high school.  When Travis needed help with the music on his movie he contacted PJ.  When the movie was done, Travis told PJ he was looking for another movie to do, something small, with heart, and about something important.  PJ, who has known about my script his entire adult life, told Travis the story.  Travis loved it, and asked that I send him the screenplay.  I did, and he said he wanted to make it, with the caveat that he could do some rewriting.  We discussed that, and I agreed.  Travis did his rewrite, raised the money, hired the actors, and made the movie.  If you discount the first 30 years of trying to get the movie made, the last couple have gone by quickly.  I love everything Travis did to the script, and he’s made a marvelous movie.  He changed the boy who didn’t speak to a boy with Down Syndrome, and cast a extraordinary Down Syndrome actor to play the part.   Travis made several other significant changes, but the heart and soul of my screenplay remain as the anchor to the movie.

DS 
How does one go about bringing someone else’s story to life?

G.A.B.
As I’ve said, this is not a true story – but rather a movie inspired by a true event.  As to how I went about it, I was able to gain Rudy’s trust and told him what I wanted to do.  I told him about the adoption aspect that I wanted to bring to it and he told me to have at it.  I used what I had gained in my meetings with Rudy as a springboard for the final script.  Rudy was easy to work with and answered my questions without hesitation as I went along.  Sadly, Rudy died of AIDS about 25 years ago.  I have no idea where the boy is or even if he’s still alive.

DS
  As a Gay Man and Father, I could not help but note that as far as the Gay Parenting Movement has come since the 70s, we still have so far to go.  Are you surprised by that?  Did you have any idea about our struggles before writing the screenplay?

G.A.B.

You’re absolutely correct.  While the laws have changed in some states, it hasn’t changed in all.  It’s still a battle for a Gay Man to adopt a child.  Interestingly, two of the main investors in the movie are two men who actually sued the state of Florida for the right to adopt.  The case went on for years and they finally won.  Did I have any idea about the struggles of gays to adopt before writing the screenplay?  Good question.  I suppose I did, to an extent, but not really.  What I learned was eye-opening.  In a funny way, I was probably very naïve to even write the screenplay in the first place – at least to think that I could get it made.  I knew what I wrote was good – and important – and it would bring good things to the actor who played Rudy, but I had no real sense of how difficult it would be to get a movie made about a gay character.  I had people tell me it was the best script they’d ever read, then quickly add, “but we’ll never make it”.  After close to 10 years of almost getting it made, it literally sat in a file drawer until my son called and told me about Travis.


DS
What was it like working with the likes of Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt and the rest of this pretty amazing cast?

G.A.B.
I agree, the cast is amazing.  Alan’s performance is brilliant.  Garret’s performance is equally brilliant, but in a very different way. He brings a rock steady character to the relationship, which allows Alan to be more flamboyant and fun.  But he couldn’t have done it without Garret, who is straight in real life, as you probably know.  Their on-screen chemistry is solid.  Issac, the boy, is just fantastic.  His emotions are right there on the surface, and you feel everything he does and says right down to the pit of your stomach.  I didn’t really have much interaction with the cast during the shoot.  But we did become friendly afterwards.

DS
You mentioned that this was a small film with an even smaller budget, a project of love I would imagine.  Was it difficult getting this caliber of talent on board considering the budget?

G.A.B.
This question would be better answered by the director.  But I know this about actors.  If they like the part, and the director, the money is not that important.  Alan saw the possibilities with the role of Rudy, both as an actor and a gay activist.  He saw this as an opportunity to flex his acting chops, and say something important as well.  These parts don’t come around that often.  Once Alan was on board, the rest of the cast came together quickly.

DS
What are you hoping viewers, Gay and Straight, will take away from this film?

G.A.B.
I would like people to come away from the movie with a combination of anger, sadness and hope.  Anger that our legal system was – and still is – filled with people and principles that foster bias and injustice.  Sadness that we haven’t come very far in the thirty years since I first wrote the screenplay.  And finally, hope – hope that change is just around the corner.  Hope that fairness and equality will triumph over intolerance and bigotry.

DS
 Finally, what about yourself, what did you take away from this project?

G.A.B.
When I originally wrote the screenplay I believed that people would have strong reactions to the subject matter, both pro and con.  I was confident that what I wrote then had a strong message to send, not so much to the Gay Community (because they were and are well aware of the issues) but to the Straight Community.  Now that the movie has been made and is out there for the public to see, my earlier feelings have been confirmed.  I have seen the movie a number of times in theatres with mixed audiences – and the reaction is pretty much the same every time.  When the movie ends there is no applause – only stunned silence.  The movie has a power that I couldn’t have predicted, and maybe – just maybe, it will help bring about change.  As the character of Rudy sings at the end of the movie, Any Day Now.

DS
Thats sad about Rudy and the boy, I guess they don't always live happily ever after.

G.A.B
It's about the journey my friend and theirs was quite special.

DS
That it was George, and speaking of journeys, thanks for taking us on this one.




Namaste


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