Ainsworth_screenshot05Learn more about filmmaker Shelli Ainsworth’s scriptwriting process for “Stay Then Go” and how she came upon a breakthrough in the story.

Stay Then Go was just a very, very challenging script to write because I had my own kind of emotional reaction and feelings about it. And I also never, as an artist, had an experience where I had an agenda that I wanted to put forth. On one side of the coin it, I did not want to be a parent in the writing or in it at all. It was really hard, like there was a code that was very difficult to crack. I felt like a lot of the writing had integrity, and it was very believable and had a very interesting truth to it. But I still felt like it just wasn’t structurally coming together.

The breakthrough for me with Stay Then Go was this idea that Marion creating these how-to videos for Eddie. They were like “How to go on a date: and “How to go to the grocery store,” “How to use an ATM machine.” They were all about helping him be out in the community and having a life of quality and dignity and more self-sufficiency. So I started to kind of create these how-to videos, and that was it.

That was like my rail to write on. They became not just something that she made for him, but they were also so much for herself as well. “How to say goodbye,” you know? And then I wrote some of those, and it was like, “Oh my God! I know how to end this!” It really helped me figure out a way to structure it. That piece of her—that she was a character that made “how to” videos was the thing that allowed me to structure Stay Then Go and gave it some very unique nuance.

The how-to videos, I think, are a bit of a fantasy that I have. I wish that I had a whole bunch of them for Dietrich. I wish somebody would make a whole bunch of those for Dietrich, and that they would be of a quality and a style and an atmosphere that he could understand and latch on to and would help him. And I have many, many times, kinda separate from Stay Then Go, thought should I make a video about this? And certainly with Dietrich, many, many, many times in his life, did sort of like storyboards about certain kinds of things, riding the school bus and making dinner and going places that are stressful to him. It’s so funny that I did all of that, but I never thought about putting it in Stay Then Go or that being a thing. So that discovery and laying that on the structure of the script kinda broke everything—it just kinda worked.

Watch: Shelli Ainsworth on MN Original