TITLE: The Love Song of Charlie Beecher.
CATEGORY: Student MFA Thesis Film, SAG registered. National University Digital Cinema MFA program.
SHOOTING: May 19-22, 2016, Lynchburg, VA. Various locations in Lynchburg.
AUDITIONS: April 2, 2016. 9am-3pm. Liberty University, DeMoss Hall 4035. Lynchburg, VA.
CALLBACKS: April 9, 2016. Location TBA.
RATE: $100/day, screen credit, meals, DVD copy.
CONTACT EMAIL: email@example.com VOICEMAIL: 434-218-0774
PRODUCER & DIRECTOR: Kyle Hammersmith
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER & CASTING DIRECTOR: Julie Whitney
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Eric Hales
PROJECT OVERVIEW: Based upon T.S. Eliot’s 1915 poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (a sad and dark stream-of-consciousness confession of a depressed, middle-aged man), this film adaptation is a light-hearted, modern day, high-school romantic comedy. 20-25 minutes.
LOGLINE: A teenage introvert sees his pathetic future and tries to change his destiny by asking a girl to the prom.
- CHARLIE: (lead) 18, high school senior, social introvert, has never gone on a date. Straight A’s, hard-working, rides his bike to restaurant job. He wants to ask a girl he likes to the prom.
- PRUFROCK: (supporting) Mid-40’s, social introvert, self-conscious, has never professed his love for the woman he wants. Passes time drinking coffee, reading, and wishing he had the courage to speak to Miss Haywood.
- KATE: (supporting) 17-18, high school senior, very attractive. A fan of literature, a cheerleader, and a waitress where Charlie busses tables. Reserved, calm demeanor. All the guys like her, especially Charlie, who sees her as his dream date, if he ever gets the courage to ask her to prom.
- MISS HAYWOOD: (supporting) mid-40’s, single, English Teacher, a patron at the restaurant where Charlie works, unknowingly the object of Prufrock’s silent affection.
- BOBBY: (supporting) 18, high school senior, outgoing, C-student, basketball player. The prototypical stud, any girl would surely like to be his prom date.
- TINA: (supporting) 17-18, high school senior, not nearly as attractive as Kate, but tries hard. Boy-crazy cheerleader who desperately wants Bobby to ask her, not Kate, to the prom.
- BANKSY: (supporting) 22, married with children, employee at the tuxedo shop. A former high-school stud, Charlie’s confidant, who encourages Charlie to go for his dream date.
- MR. LOWELL: (supporting) mid-50’s, grumpy restaurant manager. Charlie’s boss who gets irritated with the other teenagers he employs.
- EXTRAS: all ages.
- Dancers needed for dance number.
Synopsis: Charlie is an outsider who wants to fit in, so he decides to ask Kate to the prom. He must overcome his inexperience with girls, his fear of rejection, and his nemesis Bobby, the jock who already has plans to ask Kate. Charlie takes heed of Prufrock, a gentleman who has failed all his life to find love and acceptance. Charlie has one last chance to ask Kate, but will it be too late to get his date?
CREW POSITIONS: We still need hair/makeup and production assistants.
PROP & WARDROBE NEEDS: Tuxedos, Prom Dresses, Mermaid costume, vaping cigarette
Motivation — Human beings want love and acceptance; they don’t want rejection and failure. These impulses motivate our action and inaction, and these impulses are the motivation behind “The Love Song of Charlie Beecher.”
Whether it be the fear of speaking in front of an audience, an unmerited low self-esteem, anxiety over not fitting in, a disconnect from society and peers, uncertainty about our place and purpose in this world, or the classic mid-life crisis, we all share something in common with the characters in this film. Prufrock sees death coming and fears dying alone. Charlie sees the looming end of high school and fears missing out on friendships and good times. Fear, especially unwarranted fear, is crippling.
Each of our own personal narratives connect with those of Charlie and Prufrock in some significant way, no matter our age, background, or social standing. Essentially, our failure to pursue and achieve happiness is due to our failure to see the potential in ourselves and act on it. The message of the film goes beyond the “seize the day” sentiment; it reminds us that before we can win the day, we must first want it. For most humans, like Charlie and Prufrock, what we want is connection with another.
I am making this movie for these reasons, and because I want to connect a contemporary audience to the poetic T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece. Prufrock is one of my favorite characters in literature, as pathetic as he is. As a teacher, one of my greatest joys is to lead students to a deeper understanding and appreciation of characters and their stories.
This poem also is one that students seem to respond to most deeply, and many of them say it is because of the personal story I tell along with it. When I teach the poem in class, I share the true story of what happened to me when I was 18 and how I was a teenage Prufrock. Yes, Charlie’s story is my story, the true tale that I am putting to film. It’s today’s visual rendition of the Prufrock story, but with a younger protagonist and a different ending.
The poem itself isn’t easy to understand. In fact, it is one of the most difficult and complex poems in our literature book. Nevertheless, weaving my personal story into the lines of the poem helps to open doors, granting deeper access for the students into the nuances and genius of the poem.
Charlie is a normal kid who thinks he’s an outsider, which makes him one. He’s a successful kid who thinks he’s a failure, which makes him one. Who we think we are is what we become, and the great victory in life is to come to terms—honestly and genuinely—with who we are, to know our true selves, to love and accept ourselves. The sooner this is done in life, the better. I want this film to inspire audiences of all ages to discover that love, acceptance and success can’t be obtained as a passive observer of the world. We find happiness when we actively pursue it, and when we, as Thoreau said, live deliberately.
Background — “The Love Song of Charlie Beecher” is based upon T.S. Eliot’s 1915 poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a sad and dark stream-of-consciousness confession of a depressed, middle-aged man. This film adaptation is a light-hearted, modern day, high-school romantic comedy.
In the Eliot poem, Prufrock doesn’t change; he never asserts himself with the woman he likes. It ends with poor Prufrock waking from his dream of mermaids, fantasy creatures who reject him. He drowns in reality as he wakes up to human voices.
However, Charlie Beecher, who begins the poem as a teenage Prufrock, overcomes his internal and external obstacles and he changes the course of his future. The script employs several of Eliot’s poetic lines to tell this story of a younger protagonist who alters not only his own destiny but that of the original Prufrock. Instead of a depressing ending, the film concludes with a celebratory song and dance number, reminiscent of the endings of Footloose and The 40 Year-Old Virgin.
The story is structured around three couples, with the Charlie-wanting-Kate story serving as the primary thread. Parallel to this is the Prufrock-wanting-Miss Haywood story arc, ending with a twist. The Tina-wanting-Bobby arc also has an unexpected ending. But this is Charlie’s story. He’s in every scene, and the dramatic question of whether or not he will succeed in getting his date drives the action.
Charlie begins the story as an outsider amongst his classmates. He’s smarter than the jocks, he’s more responsible than most teens, and they actually respect him for it, although he doesn’t know it. Charlie wants to fit in, he wants acceptance, he wants to be a part of the world around him, and he wants to enjoy what’s left of being a senior in high school. Asking a girl out for the first time in his life will help him get what he wants. Kate is the girl to ask for so many reasons.
Bobby becomes the antagonist, at least the external antagonist of the story. Charlie has plenty of his own internal antagonists: fear, shyness, lack of experience, and a low self esteem. Bobby’s, who is full of self-esteem, is not a mean guy, but he takes advantage of Charlie. Most significantly, it’s Bobby who is Charlie’s greatest obstacle in taking Kate to the prom. Charlie must get up the courage to ask her before Bobby does. Time then becomes an obstacle as well. Three adults serve as motivational influences for Charlie: Banksy, Mr. Lowell, and Miss Haywood. But it’s Prufrock who ultimately, but not actively, motivates Charlie to action. And that’s what this story is about: taking action.
In the spirit of Ten Things I Hate About You, modern teens dramatize classic literature. Think Napoleon Dynamite meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Charlie Brown gets his little red-haired girl in Much Ado About Nothing.