At eleven I was at the peak of my creative powers: I was
writing stories and playlets, putting together poetry projects. I was
absorbed by my "work." At twelve I was no longer reading or writing, just
counting off days and checking them off. I was interested in survival.
What is is about seventh grade?
Is my experience, observation, and memory
of this time of life unique? I don't think so.
My film attempts to
explore some of the realities of the transition into adulthood that this
time in life throws into relief. It is not a "coming of age" story, because
I do not believe it is possible to come of age in seventh grade. The film
is a comedy because that is the only way I know how to deal with
excruciating torment, and I find something both funny and poignant in the
struggle to endure humiliation.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
I was born in
Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in the suburbs. At New York University Film
School, I made several short films, one of which, "Schatt's Last Shot," was
particularly popular. A screening was set up in Los Angeles, and the next
day I was seated in the office of the (then) president of 20th Century/Fox,
Scott Rudin. A three-picture writing deal with Fox was quickly followed by
an additional three-picture deal with Columbia. Unfortunately, the only
thing I really liked about these deals was telling everyone I had them. I
had a script I then took to Propaganda Pictures, who then got Polygram to
finance it as my first feature. This was a not a happy experience.
Released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company, the movie, "Fear, Anxiety and
Depression," (which I would rather have had titled "The Young and the
Hopeless"), was "a disappointment." Afterwards I left "the business" (or it
left me) and, lacking any marketable skill, became an ESL (English as Second
Language) teacher to newly arrived Russian immigrants. Pretending I had
never gotten involved in film in the first place, I lived happily for
several years. But then one day, when a lawyer/friend of mine said she was
able to raise financing for a low-budget independent feature, I felt it was
time to have second thoughts. I had written the screenplay for "Welcome to
the Dollhouse" years before, when I was still "active," in part to redeem
myself from the horror of my first feature experience, and it was a script I
had always been fond of. Evidently, I decided to reactivate.
1984 "Feelings" (NYU Short)
1984 "Babysitter" (NYU Short)
1985 "Schatt's Last Shot" (NYU
1986 "How I Became a Leading Artistic Figure in New York
City's East Village Cultural Landscape"
(SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
1989 "Fear, Anxiety, and Depression" (Goldwyn)