SHORT CIRCUIT: Documentary – Use Your Voice!

Former rocket scientist, shark safety diver and award winning screenwriter, Dan Goforth’s most recent assignments were RIDING ON FAITH, the true-life story of rodeo champion Amberley Snyder and the feature film adaptations of New York Times bestselling author Col. Walter J. Boyne’s DAWN OVER KITTY HAWK, as well as the sci-fi graphic novel, THE CHRONIC ARGONAUTS, from New Baby Publishing. Visit Dan’s blog, Script Soup and follow him on Twitter @Dango_Forth.

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The documentary is often used to chronicle the past. But can it be used to help shape the future?

juvenile-delinquentsWhat if two troubled teenagers, Pamela and Eddie, met when sent to a “boarding facility” to “correct” their behaviors?

What if one of them went on to become an actor on one of the most successful TV shows of all time?

What if the other ended up spending more than twenty years in prison?

What if this wasn’t just a story?

Instead, it is the real-life account of Pamela Hayden – actress, writer, lyricist…  and the instantly recognizable voice of ‘Milhouse’ on The Simpsons…

And it’s the story of Eddie Dayan, a teenager with a genius IQ, who is now out of prison after serving a twenty-three year sentence.

What if someone had been there for him – Before he took a wrong turn?

Pamela hasn’t seen Eddie in decades. Although she is now happily married to Buddy Farmer, Pamela has continued to exchange letters with Eddie over the years – one friend checking on another.

Pamela: “He is out on parole now. He has a longtime girlfriend… I wrote as human being to human being, because we had a connection when we were younger, and I felt – speaking of isolation andautoof being alienated – being in jail, that he needed that connection.”

Script: You were in the same situation, but came through in a different manner. Why the difference in paths?

Pamela: “I can’t speak for him… But I was raised that life isn’t fair. And that nobody rescues you.  In times of desperation, that really helped me to say, ‘You’re going to have to rescue yourself.'”

At one point, for being defiant and refusing to rat out her friends, Pamela was sent to detention hall, which was, in reality, a juvenile jail.

Pamela: “It’s the only time in my life that I’ve ever honestly felt desperate. I really didn’t know if I would get out of there alive.”

Since then, Pamela Hayden has been using her voice to make a living. But she’s also using it to make a difference.

pamela-and-millhousePamela “I’ve always had a penchant for the underdog, but it’s still a little weird that I ended up doing a solo show (“SEND CHOCOLATE & MARLBOROS”) based on my experiences, because I am such a private person. In fact, I’m so private that people I’ve been friends with for ten years didn’t know this was my experience. But my need to speak out and help people superceded my need for privacy. And that became the source material for the documentary.”

The documentary she refers to is a project of the same name as her one-woman show: Send Chocolate and Marlboros, which she brought to Michael Gordon and Adam Hunnicutt.

Michael is a director,  cinematographer and producer. Adam is an editor, writer and cameraman. They both have worked on two feature films together, as well as numerous other filmmaking projects, including one with Pamela’s husband, Buddy, who introduced the three to each other. Together, they have created a Kickstarter campaign  to tell Pamela and Eddie’s stories after their release from the facility, up to the present, and depict how their lives took very different paths. Then, the two’s reunion in Ohio will be filmed, which will be the first time they’ve seen each other in decades.

Pamela: “I really hope that it will speak especially to teens, but also to everyone, in this crazy, sort of media-obsessed world, where people are sort of falling through the cracks. They’re feeling a sense of alienation and isolation – and a lot of times feel that they’re victims of their past, or that they have all these obstacles to overcome. And I wanted it to be that this is a message of hope. That you can overcome adversity and that actually, of course, that’s what makes you stronger.”

Dan Goforth explains how to use your documentary to reach out to others, not just to inform! #scriptchat #screenwriting

In addition to her one-woman show, Pamela works with at-risk teens dealing with abuse, neglect, depression and much more. Along with fellow women writers, they mentor girls eleven through seventeen, providing poetry, screenwriting and music workshops. 

Pamela: “Sometimes they’ve had me act out things that they write. It’s just having that connection. And one of the things that I feel – to say celebrity, in my opinion, just feels goofy – but whatever “celebrity” I have,  it’s really a great tool when I do talk to the kids at group homes, I tell them about some terrible things that I’ve been through. But the caveat is that it’s only terrible if you live with it as terrible. If you think of it as a learning experience, then it’s not [so terrible]. So that people don’t feel shameful about their past, or what they’ve done, or what’s happened to them. And if they know that I’m on The Simpsons, then I say that I’m no different than you. “If I can do this, you can do this!” I definitely believe that.

I truly believe that you’re only limited by your dreams and what you believe will happen. That you can make it happen. And that we’re all unique. And that a lot times, the things that people are using to hold you down are actually things that can help you succeed. That uniqueness can be a light into the world.”

You can follow Pamela’s KickStarter campaign at Send Chocolate and Marlboros

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