HOW I CAME TO WRITE THE STORY

I started doing research for this film in 2016 and finished writing it in spring of 2020. There are several reasons how the story and structure came about.

-I initially became interested in writing the story because I was a gentrifier in a white working class neighborhood that had been rooted in Philadelphia for 150 years...here comes the artists. There was animosity and an under current of fear between me and my neighbors. I had a lot of guilt about that. My remedy was to research the area and learn some of the history.  I quickly discovered that among a certain group of people it was common knowledge that there were lead contaminates within and around the dead factories that were on every corner block. At one point there were 37 lead smelters fully operating in my neighborhood. I thought this had the potential to be an interesting plot line.

STORY INSPIRED BY ROBERT ALTMAN

-After my film I AM THAT, I wanted to write a screenplay that had multiple storylines and was similar to Robert Altman's, Nashville or Short Cuts. I knew this would technically challenge my writing skills. I was looking for a story that could lend itself to an ensemble based cast.

-Characters and tones come first to me, plots come later.  I settled on the lead plot line because it gave me an umbrella plot that multiple characters could live under.  I'd be able to have large group scenes where you could see the characters interact with one another and behave in a certain public way but then I could contrast that with intimate small scenes inside the houses where you could see how the characters behave in their private moments. I watched an interview with Robert Altman about the making of Short Cuts and he talked about wanting to convey a feeling of lifting the rooftops off of houses and taking a peek inside to see what everyone is doing. I took this idea and ran with it and that's how the 5 different households on one neighborhood block idea was conceived.

TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHARACTERS

-Lastly, I wanted to write two different types of characters: 1) characters that were steeped in all things physically and emotionally material, for example, addiction, debt, fear, loneliness, resentment, anxiety, power, etc. 2) And then I wanted to write one character who was the opposite of all that. She would be fully rooted in the spiritual world. The Holy Fool is this character.  She was the hardest character to write. There were times I would get so frustrated that I'd cut her from the script but once she was removed I no longer wanted to direct the film.  She is the sole reason why the script took so long to write. It took me years to write her well and figure out where she was coming from. I theoretically knew why but I didn't have the skill as a writer yet. 

Overall, I love this script and it was worth every knock out it gave me.