I wrote my first script when I was 16. I was sitting in the back of a bus, listening to Crystal Method on my Sony Discman. The people around me smelled like absolute shit. City shit. Yeah. After school on the hardly reliant 217 line. Chugging along from Washington, going north on Fairfax. I was listening to “Keep Hope Alive.”
I turned it up and started playing with the volume like a baby with a dimmer switch. As the old RTD (pre Metro) screeched to a stop at Pico, I could see the people cluttering around each other to get off. The song helped it feel like they were waiting in slow motion. Then my eyes drifted… to the bottom of the swinging rear doors. There were two faint blue lights at the bottom, banging wildly, a few inches above the bus floor. One of them was flickering. Then I imagined that little light turning off. And then the rest of the lights turning off. Absolute darkness. I even closed my eyes to keep it going. When I opened them again, I was looking at a homeless man. He was studying me. Plainly trying to read whatever the hell I was doing at that moment. His disposition was calm, focused. Before I could absorb that fully, he descended through the rear doors. As the bus pulled away from the curb, I tracked him outside, through the graffiti etched window. He was walking casually, past the Mo’ Better Meaty Meat Burgers, into his own world.
Once I lost sight of him, I restarted the track. I was prepared to listen to “Keep Hope Alive” the entire ride home. As the bus stopped at Wilshire, the bulk of the passengers emptied out. I watched them scatter out the doors, in front of what my mom always called “The Mayco” (pictured at top). I noticed another vagabond sitting on the bench, his head buried in his hands. I started to wonder if the homeless dude from Pico was still walking north on Fairfax… and what time it would be the moment he crossed paths with the man on the bench. I skipped past the track on my Vegas album and went to the finale, “Bad Stone” — one of those songs that launches you (or just me at the time) immediately into thought:
I got off at 3rd Street, and walked with my soundtrack into the park, towards the basketball courts. When I got there, I sat on the top of the bleachers, overlooking an empty baseball field. My friends arrived, and started playing basketball on the court behind me. We nodded heads from afar, and then I began to write. I wrote for what felt like a while. But in reality, I was only in labor for about 50 minutes before giving birth to my first script. I didn’t really look over it much, I just sorta thought it was done. I was more amazed that my friends hadn’t interrupted me once. I stuffed the five pages of furious storytelling into my backpack and went to go play some ball. My friends were still there, and I caught a few games of 3 on 3.
The script was called Bus Transfer. It was pretty much a silent film, with close to no dialogue. But it felt like a story I knew how to tell. A few months later, I transferred the script to Microsoft Word. I stayed up in front of my horribly slow Supermac, using “Elements of Screenwriting” as my guide to mimic the format.
In a few days, the script was done. I stole a handful of brads and printed 3 copies. 10 pages each. To this day, I have never revised it. Just the title page. And that was only to change the address every time I moved. Seven different addresses with the same story. Today it sits patiently on a bench somewhere, waiting to be filmed.