I’ve been living with a story in my head for over five years and it’s sort of taken on its own life. That screenplay is RED AS BLUE. The main character June Lusparian is the same as Nune Lusparian (in NUNE) and the cheerleader character is Beverly Enright (aka Briana Enright in NUNE).
RB takes place in the 1980s, so the characters have 1980s names. “June” is a very old-fashioned name and the reason her divorced Armenian parents named her that instead of “Nune” is ‘cause it would make the child more assimilated into the racist and conservative she grows up in.
The story takes place in a fictional American desert town that epitomizes the Promised Land. For this reason, that town is called Paradise Valley. And I used this theme in NUNE as well: where all the cheerleaders wore uniforms with “PHS” on it. At first everyone thought it meant “Palisades High School” because the uniform was incidentally the same as the California school’s abbreviation and color. But it actually means “Paradise.”
This paradise is the home of June Lusparian, the Garden of Eden without the Adam. It is the place where everything feels wrong and goes wrong. Now why did I name her hometown Paradise? Because everything that sucks in society is masked with a beautiful name. It is a world of illusion.
When I first wrote RB, Beverly appeared the most in my head, and she sort of consumed me. She told me her story, and I started to transcribe what I envisioned in my head. And then she possessed me. The girl is so clear and real that it’s scary.
When I met Jessica Lauren (who plays Briana Enright/NUNE)—she told me that I had written the story of her life—like almost word for word. And it was a little freaky. But that was how we connected, ‘cause I had written a semi “biography” of someone I had never even met. And although Jessica was very true to Briana, the “Beverly” character has not been purged—and the girl keeps showing up in my head.
Beverly’s original name was Beth. One day, Beverly appeared in my imagination and asked me to change her name. I figured out that Beth was a religious name, it had a Christian context, and she decided that her character needed to be more universal—and have no religious connotation. Not that there’s anything wrong with Christianity (at least not fundamentally, as opposed to “fundamentalist”), but the character, Beverly, felt that she was much bigger than that: that her saintliness, martyrdom and selfless acts of courage was large enough to be “divine”—but without a tie to any specific religion.
I personally had a hard time getting used to the name Beverly. But she demanded that that was her name. Oddly, when I moved to LA, I ended up living not that far from Beverly Blvd., then there’s Beverly Hills, and there were three cross streets I’d pass often: June St, Burns Ave, and Rossmore.
Now, this is interesting because I was revisiting the first draft of my screenplay in real life through these streets. It was like a synchronicity. Originally, the Kimberly character in RB is based on a girl I knew in high school, a religious fanatic who’s last name is “Ross.” A a character I wiped out of the screenplay had the name “Burn” (short for Bernadette). Bernadette was a bully, a butch dyke, and her nickname was Burn. I removed her because I felt she would distract from a larger theme in the movie: which is something reminiscent of the Columbine High School shooting (aka, the theme of homicidal teens) and I didn’t want the shooter to be a frustrated alienated butch dyke. I felt that this would cause society to trap the character and stigmatize her.
Kimberly is of special interest in me. I imagine that when RED AS BLUE gets made, everyone will fall madly in love with this she-devil. She’s a bitch. A femme-fatale to say the least, so cruel and yet insatiably vulnerable. And any girl or boy would wanna please her—and be her pet slave. She’s powerful yet fragile to the core. And because she’s so brazenly damaged, you gotta love her. Kimberly is one of those rare characters where the film would be NOTHING without the supporting actor. And I like this very much: because I like films where the supporting actor is a very strong pillar—so much that the film stands on three legs like a tripod: supported by a Trinity.
In RED AS BLUE, the characters drive up and down Los Feliz a great deal in a fictional American town—a desert. I made up these names before I moved to LA. Well, little did I know, I ended up living on the southern end of Los Feliz.
So LA was calling me, it was speaking to me. I don’t think I want the film to be shot in LA. Although almost all the iconic high school movies in the world is shot in LA and has the LA vibe. I’d like that to be reserved for NUNE. For RED AS BLUE, I imagine my hometown, Denver, Colorado. I can see a lot of healing this film would do for that state.
So who is Beverly? She is larger than life. She is not the main character but she is an alloy to June Lusparian (the anti-heroine). She’s an alloy in the way metals mix together. The dictionary defines it as such:
noun |ˈaˌloi| an inferior metal mixed with a precious one.
June and Beverly are two inferior and superior characters fuse together to make each other precious. So this is a love story, but it is about transcendental love: divine love at its best in the lowliest, darkest and most difficult human form—which is teen love—that awful state of puberty where everything is out of control and simply confusing.
What is the meaning of love? In RED AS BLUE, the concept of devotion rings clear. The choice behind choosing one person to be with is a spiritual one, it represents our capacity to focus our entire being to a fixed thing that is greater than us, that escapes our vanity and small self. It is a training to know G’d.