by filmmaker Michael R. Barnard
“Michael’s script is one of the best I’ve read in a very long time. It’s got a terrific story (one that could have gone so wrong at least a dozen times but didn’t,) it’s got loads of heart (in a good way,) it’s got humor (I laughed out loud at least a couple of times,) it’s got genuinely interesting and appealing characters (the lead is especially well drawn and a great role.) Best of all, it’s actually full of good writing. It’s a film that really needs to be made.”
Those are the comments of former Miramax executive Mark Lipsky. (see archive copy) Others in the industry have said similar things about the script, although not so publicly and enthusiastically: John Ferraro at Paramount Classics, Hunt Lowry at Warner Bros., Jason Blumenthal at Sony Pictures, and many others. In the end, it’s a unique story that can only be told by a few people — the filmmaker and the people who want to see the story made into a movie.
In late 2007, we went into production on the film with star John Schneider starring (Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville), but shut down production immediately after shooting only one scene, when the then-new Great Recession gutted the portfolios of investors.
We know a movie is just a movie, but A FATHER AND SON is not just a sexy thriller. It’s not just a poignant story about the difficulties sons have with their fathers. It is also a story about a critical wave of sentiment that is building in America and worldwide: people are becoming aware of the damage that hatred and prejudice about gays is causing to fellow human beings.
In 2010, there were almost a dozen suicides attributed to gay-bashing and bullying. (see this article)
People are shocked to learn about hatred such as this diatribe from an Arkansas public school. These are the words of Arkansas District School Board member Clint McCance. He posted this publicly on his Facebook page.
“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”
“…because being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it.”
“I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better.” (see this article)
Recently, this horrible letter surfaced about a son, “James,” who had come out to his father:
When I first wrote the story for the screenplay A FATHER AND SON, I would’ve been astonished to learn that the subject matter could still have an impact now, more than a decade later. Not only is it still true, it is worse. Society is moving too slowly to protect its families in diversity.
Our society has a mechanism: when bad judgment and hatred become visible to all, others can strive to correct it. It’s like flipping on a light and all the cockroaches scurry away. The public awareness can cause correction.
A FATHER AND SON is a good screenplay, a thriller drama that is fast-paced and full of good characters. It is an enjoyable movie and will please audiences. And, it also shines a light that causes cockroaches of hatred to scatter. Here’s a scene from A FATHER AND SON that I wrote many years before Mr. McCance and “Dad” said the same thing in real life:
GOOD OL BOY 1
You don’t know what you’d do if you had a boy who come to you saying, ‘Daddy, I’m a queer?’
I don’t know.
Well sure as hell I know. That boy’d be out there with them gayboys, no son of mine, I tell you. Shit.
Well, it ain’t my son. But if there were a son…
But it ain’t your son, so how do you really know?
Damn, John, what you talking about? Of course it ain’t my son. But if there was a son…
You’d throw your son away?
Throw Hank away?
Henry ponders for a second, then declares:
No, damn straight. Throw him out. No son of mine!
Damn straight. That’s the way it is. Well, I gotta finish off that truck.
A FATHER AND SON tells the story of a father who was like Mr. McCance and “Dad.” Except this man, his name is John, this man fights to correct the mistakes he made. The audience for this movie is going to be cheering for John by the end of the movie. They will develop the same revulsion about what Mr. McCance and “Dad” wrote that you may have felt when you read it.
This movie needs to be made and presented to the public.