The Divide Blog: September 24, 2014
By Jana Brown, screenwriter, The Divide
The first time I talked with Perry King on the phone, the conversation lasted nearly an hour. I had a strange feeling we’d end up being friends. I had planned to write a brief article about him for the alumni magazine at St. Paul’s School and it turned into a full-fledged feature because of the ease with which we spoke. The second time we talked, Perry told me he had always dreamed of filming a Western on his own land. Exactly two weeks after that initial conversation, we decided to work together on a writing project. When Perry suggested a screenplay (it is interesting to note that we worked for a year on a comedy before shifting gears – more on that in a subsequent post), I admit I was nervous. I have been a professional writer and editor for 20 years, but a screenplay? Are there any screenwriters in New Hampshire? Apparently one was living within me.
Perry has been such a generous mentor, always encouraging and enthusiastic, while managing to treat me as an equal. Because of how different our worlds are, we offered different but rarely conflicting opinions, combined with distinct strengths and weaknesses. From 3,000 miles away and through countless conversations at odd hours to accommodate opposing time zones, he patiently taught me how to approach a screenplay, the ways in which the writer must nudge the characters along, and when he or she must stay out of it and leave it up to the actors’ instincts. And then he set me loose to write it. I remember so well that first phone call and how it oddly felt that I was talking to an old friend. Somehow that has turned into a complete melding of ideas to create a story that only could have been generated by the two of us from our own very different life experiences. Now, The Divide is a shared experience of which we are both very proud. I was a pre-teen when Riptide was on the air and only knew of The Lords of Flatbush from my mother, a contemporary of Perry’s, who was a fan of the movie. But, here we are, nearing four years since that phone introduction, and I am helping to make my friend Perry’s dream of filming a Western on his ranch come true. In return, he is helping to make a dream come true for me.