It’s been awhile since words in a film inspired me to download the script and read them again. Playwright/Screenwriter Martin McDonagh’s powerhouse original screenplay ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ did just that.
Following the suicide of Police Chief, William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) sits in a dark, empty police station with headphones on. He opens a letter from Willoughby, oblivious to fiery molotov cocktails being thrown through the windows by grieving mother, Mildred (Francis McDormand).
The Words I Heard:
‘Jason, Willoughby here. I’m dead now, sorry about that, but there’s something I wanted to say to you that I never really said when I was alive.
I think you’ve got the makings of being a really good cop, Jason, and you know why? Because, deep down, you’re a decent man. I know you don’t think I think that, but I do, Dipshit.
You play hopscotch when you think no-one’s looking, for Christ’s sakes…
I do think you’re too angry, though…And I know it’s all since your dad died and you had to go look after your Mom and all…
But as long as you hold onto so much hate then I don’t think you’re ever going to become…What I know you wanna become… A Detective.
Cos you know what you need to become a detective? And I know you’re gonna wince when I say this…
But what you need to become a detective… is Love. Because thru Love comes Calm, and thru Calm comes Thought.
And you need Thought to detect stuff sometimes, Jason. It’s kinda all you need.
You don’t even need a gun. And you definitely don’t need Hate. Hate never solved nothing…
But Calm did. And Thought did. Try it. Try it just for a change.
No-one’ll think you’re gay.’
Also Worth Repeating
Martin McDonagh’s IMDb quote (2012)
..the amount of control for a playwright is almost infinite, so you have that control over the finished product. But in film, you’re the lowest form of life. So that was half of the job of directing, was not letting someone else come in and fuck it up. And then the other half is to learn how the hell you actually do it, which is another kettle of fish.
If I had a dollar for every article or quote I have read about ‘lowly’ screenwriters, I’d be loaded. Without writers, there are no stories. Without stories, there is no film industry.
Is it time for a #MeToo campaign for accomplished screenwriters? And how about considering therapists on Film & TV sets? Given the latest unfolding horror show in Australia’s entertainment industry, this idea may have merit.
Linda Summer – Scribe, Lost-For-Words