Monday, September 6, 2010

From Screenwriter Dionne O'Dell

Below is a guest blog post from screenwriter Dionne O'Dell. Psittacus Productions, in association with NewBourne Productions, will be shooting this short film in early 2011. More to come - stay tuned!!


Pre-production has already begun for DREADFUL SORRY, my short film script awarded the extremely generous 2010-2011 SC Film Commission Production Fund Grant, and the shoot will commence in March 2011 with NewBourne Productions.

Many people have asked me how the story of DREADFUL SORRY came to be. In following the Production Fund Grant guidelines, I needed to create a story that was South Carolinian in content. Being a Northerner, I struggled for a few days regarding what I wanted to write about, but the answer became obvious after perusing the local section of the Barnes and Noble bookstore. The shelves were lined with book after book of Southern ghost stories. Having vacationed in South Carolina every summer since I was fifteen, I was always enamored by the mysterious nature of the old Southern plantations and their haunting Spanish Moss covered trees. A ghost story that was psychological in nature was right up my alley and I knew I was on to something exciting!

After researching many South Carolina ghost stories I stumbled upon the story of Gauche, a jester who arrived in Beaufort, SC with Jean Ribaut and the Huguenots. Legend has it that Gauche was a dwarf who wore pointed shoes with bells on them and that he died on the grounds of what is now The Castle, a plantation house built in 1859 by Dr. Joseph Fickling Johnson. During the Civil War, The Castle was occupied by Federal troops and used as a military hospital complete with a morgue and cemetery. The ghost of Gauche has been known to rise up out of the fog that emanates from the river behind the house and to leave bloody handprints on windows and doors of The Castle,

When I read about this character of Gauche, I immediately knew that I had my inspiration. Louis Butelli, co-founder of Psittacus Productions, LA, is a classically trained actor and friend that Robert Richmond, Director/Producer of DREADFUL SORRY, and I have collaborated with for over ten years. Louis has played a plethora of Shakespeare’s fools and I had wanted to write a script specifically for Louis for a long time. So I started with Louis as Gauche and the story just began to write itself.

DREADFUL SORRY was therefore inspired by the legend of Gauche and The Castle but does not follow a particular event that has been recorded regarding the ghost of Gauche and his shenanigans. DREADFUL SORRY is a suspense thriller seen through the eyes of ten year-old Lily Reece Danner. Lily Reece returns to her father, Dr. Conrad Danner, at the family’s plantation house in scenic Beaufort, SC after being sent away for seven years during the Civil War. Lily is befriended by Gauche, a man/ghost who knew the mother she struggles to remember. Dr. Danner is plagued by flashbacks of the night he strangled his wife Victoria and threw her body in the river behind the house. Events of that dreadful evening unfold and Victoria’s ghost rises from the river to exact revenge.

The characters and the revenge tale emerged after visiting Beaufort, The Castle, and the river behind it. The script has gone through several revisions with the insights of Ronda Berkeley, an invaluable resource provided by the SC Film Commission. Ronda is a script coach and a consultant who has worked in the film and television industry for many years. I continue to be inspired by the knowledge and talent of those contributing to this exciting project and look forward to production next spring!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dionne -- This is Michelle Bowers (puppet girl) we were in the same grad program at USC. I'm from Beaufort and found your blog while doing a bit of research for a novel I'm writing. That's cool you are doing something on the Castle. I actually slept in that house a few times during the 80s. A friend lived there and I wanted to meet the ghost. Good luck to you!