Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Virga: –noun (used with a singular or plural verb) Meteorology. Streaks of water drops or ice particles falling out of a cloud and evaporating before reaching the ground.
Virga or Dry Rain is a funny event out on the plains. The clouds bring the expectation of rain, leading to growth and rejuvination. Then, Mother Nature tricks the thirsty earth with a depressing show of evaporation. Just when you think its going to rain, the wind blows away all hopes of precipitation.
Pete Fromm's story, Dry Rain, is a fascinating journey of a father and son traveling through the Canadian plateau. I was struck by the simplicity of the story and how well he was able to capture the complicated moment with ease. Every page I read of the story took me further on a cinematic journey. I knew that Dry Rain would be the basis of a great short film.
In late winter 2006, I called Pete out of the blue to ask him if I could make Dry Rain into a short film. I got his number from a friend of a friend. Pete had sat on some writer's panel with my friend Jess. Seems as though they realized that they had friends in common. With luck on my side, I talked with Jess about Dry Rain and how I could get to the writer without dealing with the agents. I didn't have any money to offer Pete, I could only offer the opportunity to collaborate on a film project. Jess nonchalantly brought up the mutual friend. Give him a call he said. I called the friend, then called Pete.
Pete listened to me ramble about my idea of making his story into a film. He tried to sound interested, but he probably thought I was some crack pot. Some how, I convinced him to think about it. We exchanged emails and a few phone calls. Then, when I finally had a break in my schedule, I called Pete up and said I was coming to see him. Could we get a cup of coffee and talk about Dry Rain? I think he was surprised that I'd drive all the way to Great Falls, Montana to see him. Well, we met and immediatly got along. Our conversation was productive and we struck a deal. That was March 2006. Later in the spring along about May, we had a first draft.
Working with Pete is like working with an older brother. It is never boring and he knows how to crack a joke or tell a story. He's thoughtful and listens to input, but sticks to his guns when it comes to the backbone of the story. He's a smart ass, but that didn't surprise me. I think the one thing that did suprise me about Pete was how dedicated he is to writing. He doesn't mess around. He's up at the crack of dawn, sometimes even as early as 3 or 4am, (and that's with out an alarm clock) because he has a character beating his way out of his head that needs to live on the page.
One thing to remember about Pete is to never get in a rock throwing fight. You won't win.
Matthew J. Clark
**Top Photo: I shot this photo near Helmsville, Montana just recently on my last location scouting trip. The second image is from a location scouting trip this last May with Dry Rain's Cinematographer Doug Hostetter.