Sometime ago I announced that I would be writing and directing a film called MARK TWAIN and MARY BAKER EDDY. I regret it has taken this long to finally begin, over fifteen years, but better late than never. Here are some reasons: The first script evolved. Writing about a genius as complicated and serious as Mrs. Eddy is task enough for a decade, but writing about two geniuses, which became clear to me was the only way I could reveal the drama and entertainingly explore some serious subjects, well, it just took time for me to figure out…
When the screenplay was finished I realized I had to devote enough time to creating the role of Mark Twain so that I could be fully available to the cast and crew for the enormous task of directing and bringing the life of the genius of Mrs. Eddy to the screen. The film has evolved through the years from a biography to a love story/coming of age construct, as I realized at least for me, the way to best dramatize a few of the events that make Mrs. Eddy an entertaining subject for a wide release audience, might be by focusing on a narrator for some of the controversy that surrounded her. And who better than to address claims such as plagiarism, but the most celebrated writer of her time, the hilarious and notorious Mark Twain? And so, I then wrote a one-man play: Citizen Twain, which ended up playing to sold-out audiences around southern California and grossed over a million dollars, without even the benefit of an opening by a theater or press.
To fund the film and fundraise, I designed a tour beginning in the south at the historic original building of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, which sold-out quickly. I even added a show that also sold-out. But I had to cancel as I realized I could no longer speak clearly enough to satisfy my audience. So I cancelled the tour and gave that money back, and came home to heal. That was two years ago and I am now ready to begin the journey of making this dream come true.
Financing is important and, instead of seeking the help of Hollywood studios, I am going to seek private financing. I cannot risk allowing conventional investors who would literally own the film, to ever have creative control. I have firsthand knowledge of how often a fine screenplay can be corrupted by unqualified authority who incorrectly analyze and alter the delicate balance that makes a screenplay a quality film. To this end I am planning to travel and visit churches and individuals to present excerpts from my play, and a sketch of the project. The only cost would be for travel expenses.
Although this is an artistic expression where we take artistic license to condense years of Mrs. Eddy’s life during a very limited period, it represents truthful and accurate aspects of Mrs. Eddy’s life that are the result of hundreds of contributions from the people and submissions of the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, and through years of research by the author, and deep and humble stewarding by many experts in the field, for over a decade.
Although I haven’t yet chosen a system for micro financing, accepting that we may be fortunate in landing most of our 14 million dollar target from a few inspired individuals, I wanted to announce officially my plans for touring the country to personally present the film outline and storyboard. A new friend of the project is Lorenzo Rodriguez, CSB, who has kindly offered to travel as well to assist in outreach, support and fundraising.
I look forward to hearing from you.
To donate, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you. Val Kilmer