Years after an Irish exit and deep in the throes of an early mid-life crisis, a celebrity gossip writer returns to her suffocatingly small hometown in Arkansas to hunt for her late father’s missing ashes; when she crosses paths with her damaged ex-boyfriend, she’s suddenly forced to face the complicated past that she fought so hard to escape.
CHLOE DAVENPORT is a 33-year-old impulsive, yet talented, journalist living in Los Angeles. Newly engaged and in the midst of a full-blown career crisis, Chloe’s life is turned upside down when she receives an unexpected voicemail from her AUNT CAROL, asking Chloe to mail some of her late father’s ashes to their redneck family reunion. The only problem is Chloe doesn’t have them and she doesn’t have a clue where they might be.
On her quest to track down the lost urn, Chloe is forced to return to her insufferable hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. Shortly after arriving back home, Chloe runs into her first love, JAY MORGAN, a deadbeat, chronically depressed bartender who is secretly struggling with mental health issues, after enduring a bad breakup and inadvertently killing his dogs. Once they cut through the initial awkward tension, the pair goes off on an adventure to locate the remains of Chloe’s Father.
With Jay by her side, just like that, Chloe gets sucked back into the past that she fought so hard to escape and must face the devastating reality of the life she left behind. Throughout their impromptu road trip, the exes reminisce, reconnect and hook up one last time before the secrets that they are hiding potentially tear them apart for good. Ultimately forcing Chloe to make a choice between the familiarity of her adolescence and the promise of her future.
Hand Twins recently WON Best Feature Screenplay at the 2022 California Women’s Film Festival, the 2022 First Women's Film Festival and the 2022 Venus Community Awards out of hundreds of entries submitted from around the world. The unproduced feature-length script placed as a Semi-Finalist at the 2021 Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards, the 2021 Scriptation Showcase Script Competition and the 2022 Filmmatic Drama Screenplay Awards. It also received Quarter Finalist titles at the 2022 Richmond International Film Festival and the 2022 Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition. In August of this year, the script was named a Preliminary Finalist at the 2022 Creative World Awards and it was passed on to the Semi-Finals at the 2022 ScreenCraft Film Fund Feature Competition with Mark Duplass. Additionally, Hand Twins received Official Selection nominations for Best Feature Film Script at the 2021 Miami Indie Film Awards, the 2021 Toronto Film and Script Awards in association with Toronto Film Magazine, the 2022 Andromeda Film Festival, the 2022 LA Indies Festival, and the 2022 Toronto International Women’s Film Festival.
What draws you to the language of cinema?
As a writer and filmmaker, I have worked in many different facets of storytelling including writing stage plays, novels, screenplays, entertainment news articles and reporting. But nothing quite compares to the magic that is writing for film. Unlike any other art form, the language of cinema allows the writer to portray a character’s true feelings with nothing more than a subtle glance. A slight gesture captured brilliantly on camera can provoke profound emotions in the viewer, like no other art form can. Watching a character struggle and change on screen allows us to deeply connect with them and invest in their journey in a way that words alone can’t always convey, while the unspoken dialogue that occurs between the lines of a script helps the audience make comparisons to their own life experiences and see themselves on screen. These kinds of subtle nuances, that the medium of film has to offer, will be an essential part of making my feature length screenplay, Hand Twins, come to life. There is just nothing quite as captivating as working in the language of cinema; and if done well, the emotional story a screenplay can illuminate, both with and without words, is mesmerizing to watch unfold on screen.
How and when did you start studying films?
I think we all unconsciously start studying and dissecting films from the very first moment that we fall in love with a particular movie, whether we realize it or not. It’s inherent in all of us to analyze why we like a work of art, subconsciously, as soon as we experience it on screen. That’s why we all love talking about our favorite movies and sharing them with others. We naturally want to see if our loved ones connect with the script and have the same emotional experiences as we did, when watching a particular film for the first time. The love of cinema seems to be a universal language that we all connect with and analyze on some level, no matter where we are from or our level of education.
All that being said, my formal education in film began in college. I started acting as a teenager in local plays in my hometown. Then I decided to study film and theater in undergrad at the University of Central Arkansas, before eventually moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the industry and earn my Masters Degree in Acting for Film, which eventually led to my career as a writer.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created?
From a very early age, I knew that I wanted to work in some aspect of the entertainment industry, so acting in film and theater was initially the main focus of my education. My shift from acting to screenwriting and filmmaking actually happened when I was in graduate school working on my MFA. I fell into screenwriting by chance when our class had to write and produce our own short films, as part of our final thesis project. I found screenwriting to be tedious at first, but a couple of my teachers were impressed with my work, so they encouraged me to submit my scripts to festivals and my thesis, Row 28, actually won several awards for Best Short Film. As a result, I started spending more and more time writing and immersing myself in new aspects of the industry and media.
Screenwriting forced me to learn about production, which led to me working as a Casting Director for numerous film, television and commercial projects. Three of my stage plays have now been published and I have contributed several monologues to the Smith & Kraus annual anthology book series, The Best Women’s Stage Monologues, which is sold in bookstores worldwide. I have written countless articles for various newspapers and magazines, including a passion piece for TheRichest.com that exposed the mistreatment of different animals at SeaWorld and received over 3 million views online. I also had the privilege of working at Dancing Iguana Productions writing content and producing segments for the Left Unsupervised Podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.
Looking back, my career as a writer has unfolded in ways that I could never expect. As I focus on getting my award-winning feature film script, Hand Twins, optioned and into production, I am so grateful to the wonderful educators who first recognized my potential and encouraged me to pursue writing in a serious way.
Which directors have been influential in your work and why?
I have always been drawn to films that make us love a character despite their insurmountable flaws and the turmoil that they create in their world. When it comes to writing, I have a fascination with the theme of what makes someone a good or bad person and whether it is possible to love a deeply troubled soul whose actions may be considered unredeemable. Because of this, I have a deep appreciation for darkly comedic, character-driven indie films. Over the years, I have developed a great love for the simplicity of all of the Duplass Brothers films and their ability to tell a compelling story based solely on their highly enriched character development. A number of their films served as inspiration for my feature film script, Hand Twins.
My writing style has also been influenced by films such as Sunshine Cleaning written by Megan Holly and directed by Christine Jeffs, The Skeleton Twins written by Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson, Crazy Heart written and directed by Scott Cooper and Grandma written and directed by Paul Weitz. All of these films are so utterly authentic in the way that their dialogue mirrors real-life human interactions that they inspired me to put pen to paper, or rather hands to the keyboard, for my screenplay and they continue to inspire me with every re-watch.
How difficult is it to find the right audience for an indie film and what is your distribution strategy?
I’m a believer in the age-old saying, “first, write what you know.” Then, once you have a compelling script in place, you will naturally find like-minded people to come onboard and help with the development of the project. If you are passionate about your work, then your audience will eventually find you, one way or another. Granted, this is no easy task, especially when it comes to low-budget indie film production.
I have been fortunate that Hand Twins has been well received on the festival circuit and has won 15 awards at numerous film festivals to date. That being said, getting the script optioned and produced is a challenge that I am still facing. But I believe that with time and continued recognition at festivals, all of the puzzle pieces will eventually fall into place. On that note, I am currently open to collaboration with production companies and literary agents who are interested in taking on this project. So feel free to reach out if you think we might be a good fit! As you know, success in this industry doesn't happen overnight.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your latest project?
During the pandemic, I was inspired to write Hand Twins because I was grieving the loss of several close family members and longing for the nostalgia and familiarity of adolescence. After talking with some of my friends who have also experienced great loss in their lives, I started thinking about all of the comically strange circumstances that you find yourself in after experiencing the death of a loved one. I kept thinking, “why doesn’t anyone write a script that accurately encompasses the absurdity of these traumatic situations?” Thus, Hand Twins was born.
I also believe there is a shortage of female-driven scripts that accurately portray women redefining themselves in the midst of a life-altering crisis by overcoming their past. So often romantic dramedies revolve around a man coming to terms with the fact that a particular woman is the right person for him. Since women are still underrepresented in the film industry, I wanted to flip the script and create a film where the female protagonist’s ultimate happiness and life decisions are a byproduct of her own choices and not dependent upon circumstance or based on the decisions and/or happiness of a male counterpart. I feel like the themes within my script resonate with a wide variety of audiences, and in particular with women who are struggling to find their place in this crazy world that we live in.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
In an increasingly more divisive world, effective storytelling can shed light on the issues that we face in society and help those with differing points of view develop empathy for each other by examining the complex gray areas that exist in most life circumstances. It helps us to see humanity as a whole and the vast differences inherent in people and their experiences. It gives us an opportunity to laugh at ourselves, learn from the mistakes of others and build a better future. Film allows us to intimately learn about different cultures and other worlds we might otherwise never see. What we witness and feel when watching someone else’s story can reverberate and inform our everyday lives.
Throughout history every society has felt the need to document their struggles and progress through storytelling, but it wasn’t until cinema was developed that we gained the ability to accurately preserve our little slice of life and time on this earth for future generations to come, ensuring that we won’t be forgotten long after we’re gone.
Please tell us about your next project.
I am currently working on writing a new feature film with my friend and creative partner, Fernanda Chaves. It is an all-female ensemble revenge flick that has great box office appeal. We are currently busy pouring our blood, sweat and tears into this unique script that is designed to empower and unite females across all walks of life and give power back to women in a shocking, unexpected way. We are looking to have the screenplay completed and move into the development phase by March 2023."