PROPOSALS FOR “DO ASK, DO TELL” film and other publishing projects
by Bill Boushka
The Web site http://www.doaskdotell.com presents several proposals for a “Do Ask Do Tell” film as I viewed the concept roughly during the period of 1999-2000. This discussion reports my progress. For the time being, the older content on the site doaskdotell.com will be left unchanged (except for a link to this page).
Recently I have had the opportunity to network with a number of people in the film business, including independent produces or filmmakers, organizations like the Independent Film Project (MSP), web sites like Project Greenlight. I have also considered the effect to the 9-11 tragedy on the content of such a film.
So far, discussions have been informal. As of now, I welcome input from other writers (whether previously produced screenwriters or not) who might be interested in developing this material for film. You may call me at 612-677-0652 or email me at the email link above. Frankly, I believe that “Do Ask, Do Tell” is a potentially attractive title for a film, a title that would attract media attention and be relatively easy to advertise with the intention of a large weekend or holiday season “multiplex” release. Now, book and movie titles as such may not be copyrighted or trademarked (until there is a series of similar products establishing a “brand”) so I cannot claim such legal ownership rights to the phrase; but, then again, I don’t believe that anyone else can either. I do hope that if such a film is made that I am part of making it, and that the ideas that I have written about will be taken seriously. I don’t think that the topic is suitable for situation or rap-style comedy, although I can see it in satire. I would prefer to see epic historical treatment (see “Motion Picture Industry Outlook” below).
Left to my own devices, I expect to have a presentable screenplay for Treatment 2 (below) by January 15, 2003 (unless I come up with outside resources for one of the other treatments).
I have in my own library two videos right now that develop this material.
The first video was made in 1998 by the Libertarian Party of Minnesota and was broadcast on Twin Cities Public Access, Channel 6 in Minneapolis, and it shows my speaking at Hamline University regarding a number of topics covered in my book Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back. The length is 57 minutes. I am on crutches in that lecture, recovering from an acetabular hip fracture from a convenience store fall on January 6, 1998. The date of the lecture is February 25, 1998. It was facilitated by the Libertarian Party of Minnesota.
The contents cover a discussion of fundamental rights in several areas (the right to be left alone with emphasis on sodomy laws, the right to be free from servitude, the right to free speech, special concerns about the rights of military servicemembers (“don’t ask don’t tell” and why it matters to civilians), concerns about liberty when it seems to conflict with common welfare or public safety. I also talk a bit about “socialization” and individual liberty (as it pertains to gays) and the phrase I use is “relationship paradox” to refer to the modern idea that one should be his own person before committing to a marriage (gay or not) or partnership.
I made the second video in 2002 by compiling a number of local shots and brief interviews regarding the “Do Ask Do Tell” concept, particularly with respect to 9-11. The close is a Fourth of July fireworks and National Anthme celebration. The length is 36 minutes.
I will be reproducing and making DVD’s of these materials but right now they can only be circulated “privately.”
I gave a second, similar talk (but longer, 130 minutes) at the University of Minnesota on March 31, 1999. The talk was arranged by the University of Minnesota Campus Libertarians. This speech also included discussion of the “polarity theory” from Paul Rosenfels who used to run the Ninth Street Center, and stimulated rather interesting questions about polarity in music (Tchaikovsky and Schumann).
I gave a 38 minute talk at the Dakota Unitarian Universalist Church on February 3, 2002, on 9-11, then at the community center in Rosemount, MN. This talk was not taped, but there are pictures at this location. The substance of the talk is similar to Do Ask Do Tell: When Liberty Is Stressed Book, Introduction, and essay on terrorism.
Title: Do Ask Do Tell: Learning to Question Things
Budget: Micro to Low
Type of Funding: Independent
Estimated length: 90 minutes
Film Technique: miniDV, FinalCut
Markets: Cable, DVD and small “arthouse” theaters
Setup: The notion of “Do Ask Do Tell”—its connection to western individualism and to uniquely American ideas about freedom of speech and dialogue that questions “moral” assumptions—is explored through a series of short interview clips on a number of topics (gays in the military, conscription, family values, discrimination, freedom of speech, censorship—all of these with special attention in view of 9/11) culminating in a panel discussion of freedom in a time when liberty is stressed.
PGL Contest: Not suitable
(I am working on a small excerpted treatment of my own for free distribution. 15 minutes max)
Budget: Micro to Low
Type of Funding: Independent
Estimated Length: 90 minutes
Film Technique: industry standard or dv
Market: Cable, DCD, cinema (arthouse chains)
Setup: A (heterosexual) college student and aspiring actor befriends an older amateur gay writer and then, after law school, finds himself involved in controversial litigation against the writer for the unconventional way that the writer promotes himself. The bond leads to unexpected opportunities for stardom for the student.
PGL Contest: maybe
Title: (Not given)
Budget: Low to Low Medium
Type of Funding: Independent
Estimated Length: 100 Munutes
Film Technique: Panavision Widesreen, digital stereo
Market: DVD, theater (arthouse and some larger chains)
Setup: A laid-off computer programmer attends a mysterious rural “carrer” boot camp, and while be builds some new social connections there he learns the electronic infrastructure of much of the East Coast has been wiped out by an e-bomb.
PGL Contest: Probably too big
Budget: Medium to high
Style: Epic drama
Type of Funding: Standard major studio
Estimated Length: 180 minutes
Film Technique: Wide Screen Panavision, Dolby Digital and THX, prefer Digital Prints available in selected theaters
Market: Large Theater chains
Setup: An amateur writer is prosecuted and then sued by the government under the Patriot Act when his computer is used an apparent cyber-terror attack, after he has met a precocious teenager who claims to have found steganogaphic warnings of impending catastrophes (planted by terrorists) on government web sites. Gradually, the story of his lifeline of political activism (ranging from the draft 30 years before to gays in the military) becomes entwined with that of his counsel, who is trying with her partner, an Army officer who survived both the military ban and the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, to adopt a child.
PGL Contest: Way too big!
Ways to develop screenplay material:
· Standard screenplay format
· Screenplay index cards
· Tabular outline (Microsoft Word, SQL database, or XML)
I expect to take a crack at writing the complete screenplay myself for Treatment #2 in mid September 2002. I do not yet know whether is time to polish it and enter it in the contest.
Of course, both standard studio releases and independent films must be concerned about producing films that will sell tickets and make profits for their investors. There is an enormous variety of genres that have been popular over the years. However, it seems to me that the epic theater film is not as popular these days as it once was (even given films like Titanic). I think that there is a need for a major historical film that documents how our culture has become freer since World War II with the explosion of technology and a new perspective on individualism and self-ownership, up to the time that freedom has been suddenly but not unpredictably challenged, by both the tragedies of terrorism and the scale of unethical corporate behaviors. Of course, many public television and cable documentaries have tackled aspects of this development, but a major theatrical release creates a public event and milestone and creates opportunities for non-profit fund raisers. “Do Ask Do Tell” is as good a title for such a film as any. It has been a dream or fantasy of mine since the middle 1990s perhaps to see this done. Perhaps I have not lived up to my own preaching, and so be it. A time of economic downturn sometimes provides the incentive to try something new. Some of the major players – AOL Time Warner, Disney, Videndi Universal, Paramount/Lions Gate, MGM/UA, Sony/Columbia (with it statue of liberty), Dreamworks SGK and Fox/News -- ought to be willing to collaborate on a project like this. And it’s time to deal with 9-11 in the theater as well as on cable and news.
I have two fiction projects on the boards for possible submission in 2003.
First Project: The first project is called Tribunal and Rapture.
Time and setting: Late 2004, United States (various locations) and Titan (moon of Saturn)
Premise: American society is quickly and progressively threatened by a new virus that reincarnates the “souls” of those religiously “chosen” in Biblical times and overlays these “souls” onto current victims, while at the same time these same entities provide at last a way for today’s “chosen people” to escape to other worlds. In particular, a retiring African American FBI agent seeks to rebuild his own family so that he can escape, while (in a layered plot) an aging homosexual man, recruited into training for homeland defense in the trying days to come, stumbles onto tasting again his biological youth. While both social collectivism (particularly communism) and excess individualism have reduced “traditional family values,” escape from societal collapse might depend upon rebuilding the idea of family and lineage within a closed escape environment.
Second Project: (Not titled) This would be a sequel to the First Project.
It would assume that the son of the protagonist in Tribunal and Rapture has landed on the earth-like planet about fifty light years away and “paired” with Earth by the religious denouement of Tribunal and Rapture. The son has developed a love of classical music from the library of the space ship and tries to bring it to the culture of the New Planet, which he finds very hierarchial, with technology available only to a centralized “meritorious” young ruling class which has a social and political system similar to Earth’s lost Atlantis.
Notes about Funding, My Income and $$$:
I have “retired” from an information technology position at a large financial institution in Minneapolis with severance and pension. However (especially now, given the condition of the stock market!), it is necessary to keep working to bring in reasonable income. I believe that I have a better chance of successful entry into the film or media world if I personally remain financially stable and viable. I am working part-time telefunding now and I am carefully exploring the information technology job market, which as everyone knows is rather stressed. To remain as flexible as possible I generally prefer W2 contract work to permanent salaried positions. Generally, in traditional “non-media” companies I will avoid management positions (even if they were available) to avoid conflict of interest.
There is no intention in any of the film-making activities proposed here to circumvent the normal legal and due diligence procedures common in the film industry. Guilds such as SAG would be worked with in the usual manner with the usual agreements (and some guilds offer special agreements for low-budget and experimental films). Before public commercial distribution, proper procedures in securing releases would be followed, and proper credits, licenses, permissions, etc. will be obtained. Securities laws will be followed in making proper disclosures to any investors. There is no intention to invade anyone’s “turf”; rather I would like (even more so in a challenged economy) to think that new and original content could generate new jobs.
I am also taking technical training in courses like video-editing, Microsoft .NET and XML. I believe that these courses (especially XML, since it is related more to content management and deployment than to processing multiple commercial transactions) would help with eventual employment in media-like businesses, although I would have to be wary of conflict of interest clauses if I tried to sell my own content to them.
I could also address the idea of starting a business. Actually, High Productivity Publishing is technically a business already, a proprietorship with a legally registered assumed name in Minnesota. It’s revenue is not sufficient by itself to support me now. The kinds of businesses that would be interesting could include publishing or film distribution that emphasizes works with important “do tell” social or political content and that don’t otherwise have wide distribution.
Here are some other important links:
To contact me
Email me at Jboushka@aol.com
Write High Productivity Publishing, 4201 Wilson Blvd #110-688 Arlington VA 22203-1859
ÓCopyright 2002 by Bill Boushka and High Productivity Publishing, subject to fair use and “good faith.”