By L. Tanner Smith (director/co-writer/producer)
I want to dedicate a blog post to my co-writer for Millennial With a Cane: Ronni Romero.
Ronni and I went to the same film-school—the digital-film/mass-communication program at the University of Central Arkansas (located in Conway, AR). We worked together on numerous projects on campus, she was one of the main focuses of my feature-length documentary “Unscripted” about the UCA film program, and after we graduated, we collaborated on three different short films (one of which she directed), all of which were made for the Little Rock 48-Hour Film Project.
After I wrote the first draft for MWAC, I sent it out to some creative folks I knew would give insights and constructive criticism. (They’ll be credited as “Consultants.”) Ronni was one of them.
A couple early drafts in, I realized that while I was confident enough in the story, characters, and dialogue for MWAC, something was missing. I needed a co-writer—someone who could give this script the special “something” (or as I call it, “spice”) that it needed. It didn’t take me very long to realize it should be Ronni, based on our experiences in filmmaking together. So, I messaged her one day, practically begging for her help: “Help me make this script better! Like seriously, I trust your input, your insight, your inwhatever.” (How’s THAT for a pitch?)
Her response: “I want to help darn it!!”
And she followed through. We had frequent Skype discussions (since I’m in Kansas and she’s in Arkansas), going over notes and alterations for the latest drafts of the script. And she’s not afraid to be honest or direct—one time, she asked me to omit a vulgar joke I wrote in the script, because “[I’m] better than that.” That was the exact repeated phrase our film instructor told each of us time and time again: “You’re better than that.” That was enough for me to take it out.
Now, her interview:
- What speaks to you about this project? I feel like there’s no right/wrong answers. But honestly, it’s really kind of your passion for it that spoke to me more than the script itself—don’t get me wrong, it’s a good script and I like it—and I also feel like I relate to it. I don’t have MS, but a lot of it reads into depression and anxiety, which I can relate to. But really, it was your passion and enthusiasm for the project that made me want to make it the best that it could be.
- Describe your working relationship with me. It’s good. Sometimes, I feel like I’m really bossy and I don’t mean to be. (I hope I’m not!) I feel like you listen to me most of the time. I feel like we work really well together. If I don’t understand something in the script, you are really good to explain it in a way that makes me figure out what you mean, and then I’m able to learn whether or not my notes are relevant. Communicating is really easy between us, because I don’t feel like I have to think about it (except for right now, doing this interview). It’s just like we’re back in school and talking about school projects…just bigger.
- Describe your favorite contribution to MWAC so far. The big puzzle move…and that’s all I’m going to say. (She’s referring to a major story alteration she suggested that actually worked wonders for the latest draft. To go into it would be giving away a big spoiler in the story.)
- Who do you think MWAC will speak to? Why should they be interested in it? I think everybody with some sort of hidden disability (again, depression and anxiety)—it’s not something you can see that you have. It’s something that speaks to a lot of people. And just like with MS, depression and anxiety have flareups—they can be good for a while and sometimes they can be bad. They can relate to it, and also, others can gain understanding about it through this.