‘Dakota Skye’ Behind-the-Scenes Pic-of-the-Week #1
Every week I’m going to upload a behind-the-scenes picture from the making of ‘Dakota Skye’ and just kind of blurt out whatever comes to mind when I look at it.
I like writing women. I can’t tell you exactly why that is. Am I a feminist or a fetishist? Are my testosterone levels too low? Am I a misguided, patronizing crusader? Do I do it to get female attention? Is it a cynical attempt to stand out from other male writers who write one-dimensional objects of lust and purveyors of betrayal and call them women? Has my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, The Avengers (the band, not the movie), Hole, Alias (the comic, not the TV show), and Daenerys of House Targaryen (the First of Her Name, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Realm, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons) driven me to attempt to create iconic women of my own?
I don’t know. Probably all of the above.
I guess I wonder about that because I look at that picture up there and think ‘Man, I love those girls.’ The characters and the actors. I’ve got plenty of pictures of Eileen and that will give me plenty of time to talk about her, so looking at this picture makes me want to talk about Dominique.
Because, you see, I wasn’t sure about casting Dominique as Beth. I may have even been against it. I had no rational reason for this. I didn’t know if she could act or not (in fairness, neither did she, I don’t think), I hadn’t really talked to her to see if she got the character (she totally did), I hadn’t seen her with Eileen to see if they had any chemistry (they did). So while I had no proof she could do it, I also had no proof that she couldn’t. That wasn’t the problem.
The problem was she didn’t look right.
You try your best as a screenwriter to create fully-fleshed out characters, but it is in your best interest not to get too invested in their physical appearances. The more you specify what characters look like, the smaller your pool of actors to choose from becomes and, let’s be honest, if you’re only the writer and not the director, you’re not going to get to cast the damn thing anyway.
But in my head, since my original drafts of ‘Dakota Skye’ (then called ‘Far’), I had an image of what I wanted Dakota’s friends to look like. And the key word was ‘different.’. Each a different type of girl with a different look, a different vibe, and, in a completely bullshit only-in-the-movies conceit, a different hair color. I wanted each one to stand out, to be a physical embodiment of their personalities.
We had our red-head with Destiny playing Denise. And Becky looked perfect as the blonde Amy.
But Dominique…and this is going to sound awful but hear me out…looked too much like Eileen.
Now before you jump at me and scream ‘RAAASCIIIIISSSTTTT!!!!!’, that’s not entirely what I mean, but I’m sure that factors into it. (Not me being racist, but the girls’ races). I just looked at them and although they are both very different ethnically, there wasn’t enough of a difference between them. Their skin color was too similar; their hair was too similar.
It just didn’t gel with my vision of what this group of girls looked like.
While director John Humber allowed me to be very involved in the casting process (I will take credit for meeting Ian Nelson first to my grave), I am sure glad I didn’t have final say.
John and I talked about Dominique and he had a very clear point that shamed me that I didn’t think of it:
“If they’ve known each other since they were little, and they were the only two girls in their grade that looked like them, wouldn’t they have become best friends?”
Boy, was I an idiot. That was exactly right.
I was still reluctant, and I’m afraid I didn’t do my best to hide that from Dominique throughout the shooting and we didn’t have the warmest of relationships.
So I want to use this forum to officially apologize to Dominique for that. For not seeing past her looks, for having such a rigid idea of what I wanted Beth to look like, for not doing better at supporting her during the shoot, and, mostly for doubting her…
…because she fucking killed it.
The infamous ‘bookstores’ scene is a tough one: a very silly moment that comes out of nowhere where the straight-laced Beth has to spew off some absurd dialogue. I think she nailed it and is genuinely very funny. I believe every bit of her den-mother-esque attitude towards her friends. I believe that she loves Dakota but is also disappointed in her and doesn’t understand why she doesn’t care about the things she cares about.
My favorite moment involving Dominique: We were shooting the scene in the diner late in the film, after the concert. That’s probably what we were shooting when the photo up top was taken. During that scene, Beth catches Dakota in a lie. She figures out that she has spent the day (and night) with Jonah, not her boyfriend Kevin. On screen, she plays this revelation just right. It’s her best moment.
But the problem is Beth has a crush on Kevin. This isn’t revealed to the viewer until later, but of course Dominique had read the script and knew it was coming. So she asked me:
“Why would I cover for Dakota if I have a crush on Kevin?”
And I said, “Because you are a better friend than her.”
That summed up Beth for me. It seemed to make sense to Dom as well.
My least favorite Dominique moment: I was going on a run to get sodas and water for the crew and she asked me to pick up tampons. But I forgive her; I deserved it.
A note: Dominique and I get along better now. I hope this confession doesn’t hurt that.
So that is what I think of when I look at this picture taken a little less than seven years ago. How much I love writing women, how much I love these two characters and actors, and how much of a fucking idiot (and maybe inadvertent racist, I’ll admit) I was in resisting the casting of one of them.
As the great philosopher Alanis once said, “You live. You learn.”
Next week I’ll put up another behind-the-scenes pic and try to offer some thoughts on it. That post will either make more or less sense than this one. I’m not sure. I’m doing these off the cuff.
(While I’ve got your attention, please check out Dominique’s Kickstarter for a pilot she is trying to make called ‘I Married a Method Actor’. I haven’t read the script but the concept is very funny to me and I hope she gets to make it. She’s a smart one, that Generaux, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with it.)
Well, that’s it for now. I look back on this post and realize that I may have painted myself as a prick. Oh well. Wouldn’t be the first time.
Until next week,