My grandfather had Parkinson’s. He was a proud man, always careful to shield his trembling fingers and unsteady grip when his grandkids were around. I think he thought we didn’t know anything was wrong, and we probably didn’t when we were really young, but it never really mattered to us anyway. “Grandpa shakes, whatever,” I can remember thinking. It was important to him to appear stoic, unfazed: the thing was grandpa wasn’t very good at hiding it. He fought through the awkward meals of jittering silverware and dropped fork-fulls with a sweet old man smile all while making inappropriate jokes about how he still has to chase away other guys from grandma. He had a walker when his balance was going, but he never took it when my brother and I would take them to lunch at the mall across from their high-rise. He was a proud man.
One day grandpa got Alzheimer’s.
When I enrolled at the Vancouver Film School for 2005 I had two simple goals for what lay ahead during and after my year-long intensive study of the art of writing for television, film and new media: Get paid to write* and make a movie. In the summer of 2010, I was lucky to see the latter through as we began the production of the feature-length independent film “Do Something With Your Life”, of which I wrote the screenplay.
Writing is weird. Art is weird. We talked a lot about community, supporting other artists, working with people both liked and respected for their talents: everyone working together to get better and make better projects. For a long time, this shared mentality lead me to opportunities I would never had even with VFS on my resume: I was able to write and help make** 40-something sketches, two seasons of a webseries- writing and acting in it- I did stand-up comedy, wrote sketches for a bunch of groups and helped produce sketch shows***, work-shopped stuff with other writers, gave notes for projects in production, and I even appeared an iPhone videogame for a popular SyFy series as a monk AND a pirate. When I start to reflect, listing those achievements, (as mundane as some of them may be****) I get a sense of pride I haven’t felt since I was active in the community. That’s weird to me, because for the last 3 years it’s pretty much been petulance and anger.
I wrote the following tale of adolescent loss/avuncularly tomfoolery over a 36 hour typing binge in the spring of 2007 when I was an under-employed wannabe screenwriter trying to figure out a way to make money with my whimsical coming of age stories. Some facts about the script, which may or may not deter you from reading the complete 99 pages:
1. It is a first draft so the spelling/story may leave something to be desired.
2. The last name “Kranson” is indeed a reference to Bryan Cranston, however as this script was written well before Breaking Bad please note that I was paying homage to Mr. Cranson’s work in Malcolm in the Middle.
3. If you imagine Tim Allen as Uncle Dick, it’s funnier.
Uncle Dick’s Sick-Ass Roadtrip is a feature screenplay written by me, Andrew Menzies, available to read through Google Docs after the jump. Enjoy.