For those who don’t know, Brad Ingelsby is the screenwriter of Hold On To Me & he spoke to Go Into The Story which is the official screenwriting blog of the Black List. Although there’s no Rob mention in this snippet, we do get a great insight into the movie. How amazing does it sound.
Scott: You’ve got several other projects in the mix, one of them another Black List script, “Hold on to Me.” That’s based on an article written by Hillel Levine and Jimmy Keene. “A ruthless and money‑hungry woman uses a hapless man as a pawn in her criminal schemes.” Could you give some background on how that project evolved?
Brad: Yeah, sure. That was an article, as you said, that Jimmy and Hillel had written. It was supposed to be published in Playboy magazine though I don’t think it ever was. Alexander Milchan, a producer, gave me the overview of the article that was to be written at that time. It’s a true story. An almost unbelievable true story about a murder committed in Illinois in 1986 by this woman Nancy Rish and her boyfriend, Danny Edwards. We’ve fictionalized the story quite a bit, but in real life Nancy was this blonde beauty and former pageant queen who had aspirations of leaving her small-town life in Kankakee, Illinois. In an effort to escape the doldrums of small-town life she starts dating this guy, Danny, who is beneath her usual standards. But he’s a guy she can shape and mold and so she does. She introduces Danny to drugs, then gets him to deal drugs, then gets him to deal more drugs. And this ascension continues until Nancy gets the fancy estate home and fancy sports car and the big boat she always wanted. And just when she’s finally living the life she always imagined for herself, it all gets abruptly taken away when Danny is pinched and thrown in jail.
So she’s back at this lowly diner where she waitresses and she’s reading this article, I think it was in “Esquire” or “Vanity Fair,” about a young socialite who was kidnapped and buried alive and kept alive for three or four days. And a light goes off in her head. She says to herself, “This is how I can get my life back.” I won’t give away too much more, but it’s a truly bizarre and haunting story of greed and ambition.
James Marsh is going to direct it and Carey Mulligan is going to star. James is one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with. And one of the kindest and most collaborative. So it’s been a truly great experience. I’m really excited about that one.
Oh yeah, 2013 is one AMAZING Rob year – so so excited
Update: Brad talks a bit about the script
Scott: When you finish a first draft and you’re faced with the inevitable rewriting process, are there some keys you have or approaches you use to bring that script home?
Brad: I think it really varies with each script. With “Run All Night” we actually didn’t do a lot of rewriting at all. I felt the script was in a good place and my manager, Brooklyn, and my agent, Mike, agreed. We got Roy Lee involved. He was a great advocate and believer and he submitted it to Warner Brothers.
With “Hold on to Me” that was a much larger revision. The initial draft was 150 pages long. It was a real ‘Boogie Nights’ style epic that took place over a number of decades. In earlier drafts we showed a lot Nancy growing up, as a young girl and then as a teenager, in an attempt to introduce the audience to her world, her stage mother, her absent father. We wanted the audience to understand why Nancy wanted so desperately to break away. Because the movie gets dark and Nancy’s desire to break away leads her down a really really dark path, we had to understand her and sympathize with her. So when she finally does go down that dark path the audience doesn’t lose her. They remember that pageant girl getting her hair done inside a shitty bathroom by her mother. They remember the girl everyone called a slut at the country club. Without those scenes the audience loses sympathy and then the movie’s over. Everyone’s walking out of the theater because they think she’s a monster. So those scenes of Nancy as a youngster were incredibly important, but we had to pick and choose the ones that were most important. And James Marsh was particularly great at picking the gems.
I think it varies, really. I don’t have a method of going back in and looking at stuff. It’s just dealing with, “What’s this story about?” and if a scene or a character or a sequence isn’t aiding us in that character’s journey then we need to get rid of it.