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write this down

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WRITE THIS DOWN was born out of an encounter with an old, seemingly insane vagrant in a Malibu restaurant. He spoke to the empty seat across from him and instructed his invisible friend to "Write this down..." The statements that followed were at first bizarre and nonsensical, yet soon his murmurings became not only coherent, but, in fact, strangely profound. There was something about this man and his words that sparked a story that needed to be told.

WRITE THIS DOWN is the story of a homeless ex-nuclear physicist, who wanders the city speaking to invisible entities, and a disturbed war veteran, who escapes from a psychiatric hospital and ends up taking the physicist, a waiter and a young girl hostage in a late night cafe. Madness and emotion, love and fear, physics and spirit, all collide in the dark cafe, leading to a profound revelation and transformation for the characters and the audience.


Statement of Purpose

My goal as a filmmaker was to explore traditional dramatic structure, including the essential elements of premise, theme, character development, plot and subplot, and the genre of dark comedy.


The Process

I started with the concept that if we start with a true life event, character and/or emotional reality, we can create what I call a "Living-Story." This story began with the meeting of a homeless man whose ramblings touched me deeply. From there, through a series of magical synchronicities I met other homeless people and war veterans who further added to my Living-Story. Once the script was written, a strange magic, or grace, took hold of the entire production: The right people and resources showed up; the cast and crew entered a state of communal fusion; and the images and sounds that were captured were filled with a magical blend of powerful emotions, laughter, tears, madness and sacred truths. We all had the sense that the story was coming through us onto the screen...a story with a life all it's own.


Project Information

Title: Write This Down

Format: Video; Sony Beta

Duration: 42 minutes

Featuring: John MacBride, Michael Joel Shapiro, Stan Buchanan and Heidi Holicker

Produced for: The Center for Advanced Film Studies, The American Film Institute, Los Angeles, California

Year: 1981-1982




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All images and text on these pages Mark Allan Kaplan.
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