I am thrilled to announce the completion of our latest script, “Model T Girls,” a truly American road-trip saga that I had the pleasure of creating with the hugely talented Thane Swigart (East of the Mountains) and erudite Lowell Blank (Holes). It has been an interesting, twisted, and unusual journey, and I could not be more ecstatic and proud of the result.
Based on a true story, “Model T Girls” follows the journey of five young women from Bradford, Illinois, as they set out on a cross-country trip in a 17-year-old Model T Ford to the 1939 World's Fair in New York.
We wanted to capture the hope and promise of a nation emerging from the Depression, a time when the world was on the brink of war and modernization was driving change all across America. We strove to add a pinch of family drama and a healthy dose of comedy to round it all out.
I think we accomplished all that in spades, but that’s NOT why I am so excited about this script. It’s because of HOW we came to write this two-hour gem.
“Model T Girls” is a story I have been interested in telling for some time, and when Lowell introduced me to Thane, I immediately pitched it. I could tell they were as attracted as I was to these women’s adventures and saw the promise of a road-trip movie. But that’s still not why I am SO excited.
When Thane proposed we work iteratively on the script, writing and refining ten pages every week or so, my excitement bloomed like snowdrops. Pixar was a much storied success with a similar approach, and I was anxious to get started. We would build the story in small, digestible pieces, getting each section as good as we could before we went on to the next.
It made perfect sense to my left brain. In a previous life I was a software Project Manager and well-versed in Scrum - an iterative process of software development that consistently produced better code, faster. We would now apply that same idea to screenwriting. Brilliant!
It was thrilling. Too often for me (and I’m guessing with others as well), getting a script written was about pitching your story ideas to a writer, who then sequestered themselves into their cave only to emerge months later with a finished script, like Moses coming off the mountain. Then you wrestle with giving voluminous notes on over 120 pages of dialog and description, figuring out ‘fixes’ for the complicated set of issues too often baked into the script.
With Thane, it was different. We would rewrite and brainstorm for hours every Tuesday, working on ten pages at a time. At the end of each week or so, we would have ten more pages we were happy with and a clear idea of where the story would be going for the next ten pages. Just ten at a time.
It worked out well, and in under five months, we have a script emblematic of a fifth or sixth draft. We then worked it through a couple more times and presto! - one polished, tight, and, in my view, very, very special script came out. This process helped us avoid much of the pain and bruised egos of writing a well-polished screenplay.
THAT’S why I’m so excited. It was the best version of heaven one could hope for.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. I’m sure there are more rewrites in our future. But we came so far so fast, it made the creative journey truly delightful.
“Model T Girls” is our love letter to the American road trip, a staple of American culture and literature. From Frank Capra's “It Happened One Night" to "Thelma and Louise," the road trip is a quintessentially American genre, and we wanted to express all that through a fresh and new lens.
In the words of Walt Whitman, "The America of the road is the best America. It is the true America.” We hope to bring this best and true American story to your screen soon.
We’ll keep you posted.