Last week, I wrapped my directorial debut on a short film I wrote, an homage to “The Twilight Zone” called, “The After Party.” The film is a commentary on binge drinking among women as well as how we as a society are addicted to so much from “Boomerang videos” to pain killers.
As I cried during the entire 2:40 AM drive home — a teary cocktail of exhaustion, relief, sadness and shock that I actually did this — I began to think about the script’s journey. You see, every good story has a story. And this is “The After Party’s.”
Back in the summer of 2012, while still savoring the wonderful vanilla latte at the now defunct Caribou Coffee in the Deer Park Mall, I sat down to do what I usually did to escape the daily routine. For me, the days had been growing gradually harder from juggling the job of being president of The Chicago Screenwriters Network to freelancing (hopefully getting a permanent job) at Leo Burnett to wondering how my first feature, “The Stream” was going to the impending storm known as a divorce. It was a lot.
So, I did what I usually did to escape — I wrote a screenplay.
Not a feature. But a short — little bursts of writing in the form of nine, ten, sometimes fifteen pages. I never knew what I was going to write about. I just knew I was going to write. It was simply a story my fingers would relay to my laptop and leave me satisfied.
The script I happened to write that day was a little piece of personal exorcism called, you guessed it, “The After Party.” It was based on a horrific incident I had back in 2002.
On the way home from FCB Chicago, I took a major, potentially deadly, but absolutely idiotic risk — I drove home drunk. Not tipsy. Drunk. Damn you four martinis. How I made it to almost a block away from my house, I’ll never know. But I was almost at my driveway.
Until Barrington’s finest, I can’t remember his name, probably blocked it, pulled me over. And arrested me, leading me to an expensive and eye-opening lesson for the rest of the year. I can’t tell you how mortified and stupid I still feel looking back. But it was a behavior I blamed on the advertising culture and not my own irresponsibility and selfishness.
As one of the characters says in the film, “My first addiction was to myself.”
So back to 2012. My fingers tapped out, in an afternoon, “The After Party.” I read it over and was like wow, “this came out of me.” And then I filed it away. Quickly away. Re-visiting a night in jail is nothing you really want to remember.
CUT to four years later, now living in LA, and coming off of my second feature, “Traveling Without Moving” and my DC Comics Fan Film, “Committed,” I felt the need to make a film again. The last bit of production I had was for an upcoming (yes it will be released one day) webseries I developed, co-produced and co-wrote called, “Lost n’ Found.” I felt the pangs again.
Plus, in Hollywood you will soon resemble The Crypt Keeper waiting for someone to buy your script.
So, I opened up my files and asked my associate producer, still photographer and one of my best friends, NJ Bourque, to read three short scripts and tell me which one to make.
She called me back, almost in tears, saying that I have to make “The After Party.” I shuddered at the thought. But then again, it was my own doing as I had given her the script. NJ, the victim of a drunk driving accident herself, said the script had an immediate impact on her. She pleaded for me to make it come to life for others to feel the same way.
And thus, began the journey of my directorial debut. A journey that has only wrapped its second leg.
I’ve been asked by my editor, Dan Patton, to ask our audience to embark on this personal journey with me. So here I am. I hope you’ll stay with me as I describe this trip all the way up to its premiere.
Here we go…
LA-Based Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.