Weetzie Bat is a young girl living in Los Angeles who hates high school because, of course, no one understands. But what they don't understand is the magic around them. She wears cowboy boots and feathered headdresses and sometimes roller skates, and her best friend is a handsome guy with a Mohawk named Dirk. When he comes out to her, she just says that it's cool because now they can go looking for their true loves together; that's just how Weetzie rolls. Weetzie builds her own family of friends and lovers throughout Block's books, and while the stories don't shy away from the dark side of life at all -- AIDs, cheating, and implied assault all make an appearance in Weetzie Bat -- they were and are an inspiration to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Weetzie's world is punk rock magical realism in a Caddy with fins.
And there's a screenplay for it.
On August 8th at Book Soup in Los Angeles, a cast will be reading through Francesca Lia Block's screenplay Weetzie Bat directed by Brian Gaskill. The cast includes tween starlet Chelsea Staub (Jonas) as Weetzie, Aaron Ashmore (Smallville) as her boyfriend My Secret Agent Lover Man, Brant Daugherty (Pretty Little Liars) as Dirk, E.G. Daily (Dottie from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Valley Girl, The Devil's Rejects, Happy Feet 2) as Dirk's Grandma Fifi, Jason Seitz (Elephant) as Buzz Cut and Bam Bam, Crystal Mantecon (Terrence Malick's Tree of Life) as Vixanne, a witch obsessed with Jayne Mansfield, and Corbin Bernsen as Weetzie's dad, Charlie Bat.
After the jump is an exclusive quote from Francesca Lia Block about her screenplay.
I have been working on getting a movie of Weetzie made for literally 24 years, longer than some of the actors in the reading cast have been on this planet. I reworked the script literally hundreds and hundreds of times. The book was optioned a few times by great people but nothing came of it. Finally I got sick of waiting because in Hollywood you can wait around forever, which is what happened to my grandmother who was a screenwriter in the 1940's and my dad who wrote and did special effects in the 50's. (He wrote the original story and did special effects for Forbidden Planet.)
Hoping to avoid the frustration of their fate, I workshopped the screenplay at UCLA online Extension with Beverly Gray and fine-tuned it with her help and the help of the students in that class. Then I talked to Brian Gaskill, a wonderful actor and video director I have known for ten years. He had once approached me about making a movie but it wasn't the time. He is also a character in Necklace of Kisses, a Weetzie Bat sequel (the actor who plays an angel -- he really did play one on TV!) We decided to go ahead and just "get the barn" so to speak. Brian suggested Book Soup as the "barn." Pretty nice barn, huh? I've learned that if you get a bunch of no's there is usually a reason but the same applies to a bunch of yes's and Book Soup said yes, right away; then in just weeks Brian and I, with the help of fantastic friends, casting agents, managers and acting teachers etc. (Mara Casey, Vicki Baumann, Randy James, Margot Menzel, Elissa Leeds and I have to mention Brian again because he knows many of these actors personally) assembled an amazing cast. Yes, yes, yes. The whole thing took on a life of its own, like magic, like Weetzie magic. We want to do this to express our creativity, reach the Weetzie fans, draw attention from producers and to have some fun, to create some light because the world has been looking pretty dark to me lately. But this experience is already restoring my hope.
Believe me, if I could hop on a plane to Los Angeles to check this out, I would! So if you're in the area, report back and let me know how it goes. That includes you, producers and financiers.
Photo by Nicolas Sage Photography