When I started writing Abigail, I was in the middle of a very tumultuous time in my life. I was 19 years old, had dropped out of community college, and had no prospects ahead of me outside of my fast food career.
It was a terrifying time, and a very important time personally, since I felt that if I didn’t take proactive steps toward becoming the filmmaker I’d always wanted to be, I may very well lose the next thirty years of my life to a comfortable job, not pursuing what I want for fear of failure.
While having my mid-life crisis twenty years early, I found myself sitting in the back room of my job, staring at my laptop, when a new employee walked by.
Her name was Abby. Abigail.
I liked the name, so I took it as a title for something, but for what I didn’t know. I just knew that whatever I ended up making, I’d call it Abigail.
At the same time, I had been kicking around an idea for a few days, the idea of two stories separated by decades or a century that somehow effect one another.
A pair of souls whose stories would impact each other, but in a realistic way, which meant that one of the characters would either be very old, or dead by the time Abigail rolls around to play her part.
After kicking around names, I settled on the second characters name, Joel. A young man whose story would be modeled off of my own, in a way. Another young man who was searching for his place in the world, and who may have decided to stick up for himself a little too late.
Some sort of drama, a tragedy or injustice, to give Abigail a reason to care about a man who lived so long ago.
While searching for a theme for my script, or a common idea at least between the pair of them, I took a metaphorical step back and took a look at my own situation, and how exactly I’d put myself into it.
In the simplest way, it was due to me being eager to grow up too fast, and a fear of standing up for my ideals (in my case, not going to college in the first place, instead of dropping out when the pressure had mounted and the bills were due).
What would that be for these characters, both of whom were in different settings and situations to mine?
For Abigail, I pictured a young girl in a new town. Someone who had jumped the gun when it came to becoming an adult. She graduated a semester early, took a job in a far away town, and moved in to a house all within a few months. She’s running the future she wants, but also AWAY from the facts of her life. namely, the death of her father.
For Joel, I pictured a poetic man from a military family living in the shadow of World War II. A man who sees what’s coming, but can’t possibly predict how quickly.
Instead of telling his mother and father about his complete disinterest in the military, he bargains. Instead of becoming an enlisted man, he goes to West Point to become an officer, hoping that with that clout he could avoid the front, serve his duty, and pursue his true passions later, after he’d satisfied the demands of his parents.
Then comes Pearl Harbor.
Confronted with the very real possibility of being deployed to the front lines of the sequel to the war that took so many of his fathers friends, he ran. He became a pariah, a coward who turned and ran as all of his friends were sent across the world to fight one of the most evil entities in modern history.
How would a man of decent conscience, cope with his shame and guilt? What would that manifest itself as when an unsolved crime spree needs a scapegoat to pin it on?
After mulling over the ideas, and revising them while we shot and edited, I was greeted with a final product that, while flawed, was something I could be proud of in the long run. It’s something I’m hoping, warts and all, can be appreciated by others.
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