"Old Indian and White Poodle" by Malcolm Bucknall, 1976
In late October 2019, my friend Shahab Zargari invited me to write the story for his fourth short film. The project as he pitched it, intended as a vehicle for his daughter Mahtab, was to be a coming-of-age tale of a teenage girl facing turmoil in her life, with the quasi-sci-fi element of an "alternate reality" or "safe space" where she could go to face (or simply contemplate) her problem away from the real world.
I felt up to the challenge, but my first attempt in early November resulted in a weak, flimsy treatment. Fortunately, soon after, I became inspired and took another stab at it.
The resulting story, Oh, The Guilt (named for the Nirvana track of the same name), was written in two creative bursts on the 18th and 20th of November 2019. Set in April and June 1994, it is about a girl who loses her best friend in a horrific late-night car accident. In the aftermath of the tragedy, she must contend with both insomnia and a condition known as "survivor's guilt" -- but the treatment comes with some unexpected side effects.
The talented Roudi Boroumand adapted the story into a slick, proper screenplay, and a wonderful, enthusiastic cast and crew has been assembled. While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed shooting to September 2020 (with final scenes to be shot in April 2021), I know it will be worth the wait to see what Shahab and his team in Las Vegas will produce in the coming year. More information will be shared here as it becomes available!