The History of Arab (pt.2 of many)
// November 25th, 2008 // Making Arab
This post continues on from The History of Arab (pt. 1). To go to that post, click here.
After coming home from work, I quickly sat down at the computer and banged out the first two pages of the short Arab in America screenplay. I had this AMAZING idea about starting the movie in an airport and having the main character, Osama (based on my brother, myself, and my uncle), get into a world of trouble because of his name, race, and religion. I was pretty confident that I created a work of comedic genius with the scene (but time would soon tell that I was one of about 14 other people who also had the same general idea).
After finishing the first two pages of the screenplay, I quickly called Tim Bryan (my DP that hated my first script) and sent him the file. “Do you like it? Am I on to something?” After Tim’s out-right rejection of the first script, I was in desperate need of approval.
Long pause… “This is good. You are on to something. See? Isn’t this better than that piece of crap you handed me earlier?” For the record, The Weinstien Company just purchased a film VERY SIMILAR to Assassinate George (the extensive cast makes me weep at night).
Tim’s validation was all that I needed to continue. With his approval, I could’ve sat down and banged out the entire script fueled by my pure adrenaline. Unfortunately, for yours truly, I had to pick up my roommate from the airport…
For those of you that haven’t made the trip to the Jacksonville International Airport, it is a sad and lonely journey. There’s no need to worry about getting caught speeding for you won’t be going faster than 50 miles per hour the entire way. The reason? Constant construction. I have no idea what kind of upgrade/fix requires seven years of construction, but the Georgia and Florida Departments of Transportation have figured out a way to elongate any task given to them.
During the entire trip, my middle school and high school observations kept coming back to me. Whenever I had a mental image of myself as a successful Business-man/Celebrity/President-of-the-United-States/etc. the first thing that would go through my mind was, “You’d have to get your name changed before you can do any of those things…” As a kid, that can be a really big bummer. I mean, if my father (the smartest man I’ve ever met) can’t get a job because of his name, how could I? How could my brother, Osama? How could any Middle Easterner?
And then it hit me: the main character in my movie, Osama, will change his name in order to get a job… and it’ll work. What a great way to get the point across!?!
Whenever an idea finally gets materialized and the creative juices start to flow, something always comes up to ruin your progress. In this instance, that something was my roommate, Colin Ferri.
Colin is a good guy… He’s um… an acquired taste. Like, he makes lots of funny jokes at other people’s expense, he’s got this superiority complex that’s halarious as much as it is ironic, and he’s the second biggest critic I’ve ever met (that crown would have to go to my brother, Osama). We’d been roommates at this point for over a year at this point and I was just picking him up from a school break.
Being high off of creative juices, I decided to pitch what I had to Colin about my emerging screenplay. “Okay, so listen to this idea I’ve been coming up with for my senior project…” I could see Colin’s eyes beginning to roll… This is not how he wanted to spend the two hour drive after he’d been on a plane for four hours. “It’s about an Arab guy named Osama…”
“No man, hear me out. It’s about an Arab guy named Osama, and he’s really smart….”
“We get it, Nabil… it’s a movie about you.”
“Come on man, stop. Let me finish. Okay, Osama just graduated at the top of his class, or something (still didn’t have the details worked out), and he tries to get a job, but he can’t because no one will hire him because his name is Osama.”
“And so, he thinks that if he just changes his name, he can get a job, and he does.” That is, regrettably, all I had.
This is where the critic part comes into play… “That’s all you have?!? An Arab guy named Osama has a hard time getting a job and he changes his name and gets one?!? That’s it?!? That’s like six minutes of a movie!” This was true, however…
“Well, it’s a work in progress. Obviously it’s gonna need to be developed some more.”
“I don’t know, sounds lame” Colin is a master of the one sentence review.
“Trust me, this isn’t lame…” This was awesome. “This is awesome”.
“Whatever, Nabil. I’ll take your word for it. Can you turn on the air? The constant wind in my face is getting my hair all messed up.” (Colin actually didn’t say this, but he would have if we were in a movie…) “And who is this band your playing in the stereo? They’re really awesome!” (Colin actually didn’t say this, either, but he was thinking it)
All of a sudden, the indicators on my dashboard light up… all at the same time. I whip out the phone to call my dad (because when it comes to cars, I don’t know ANYTHING).
Colin starts to panic.
Dad tells me it’s probably the alternator belt and I need to get a service center pretty quickly. So I tell him that I love him and we make it to a ShepBoys. And since it’s the end of the day, of course they’re going to have to do it the next morning which means… Motel 5. I know, I know… But I’m a broke Karrabba’s server. At least they leave the light on for ya’!
At this point, Colin is pretty peeved… But I don’t know why! If I didn’t have to pick his butt up from the airport, than I’d be in my own bed in Savannah right now… Or better yet, on the pc finishing my screenplay. Whatever. So, I turn on the tv to try to ignore the entire situation.
Finally Colin says something, “So about your movie idea…”
Maybe this whole ordeal wasn’t a bad omen, afterall…