Lights! Camera! ACTION!
Lulu in LA LA Land
A screenplay by Lulu Harrison
ZOOM IN on Hollywood mega stars LINC and FIONA HARRISON singing happy birthday to their daughter LULU. Lulu blows out the candles, and they all gather for a group hug—
If only real life were like the movies. Instead, Lulu Harrison's massively important eleventh birthday is just three weeks away—and her parents still haven't RSVPed!
Lulu's not like the rest of her glamorous Hollywood family. She likes tamales and they like tofu. She likes gardening and they like grooming. But all she wants for her birthday is for her whole family to be there. Together. So this year she's planning a super fabulous SPA-tacular party. But what if trying to fit in leaves Lulu feeling even more like she was cast in the wrong family?
Elisabeth Wolf is a bit Lulu. She lives in Los Angeles where she grows fruits, vegetables, and native flowers. Before that she worked in public policy and media both in California and Washington, D.C. She has two children, Philip (15) and Emmeline (13). Her inspiration for writing Lulu was based on their growing up in Los Angeles and seeing how fast childhood can zoom by. She bakes her children's birthday cakes and eats spicy Mexican food. Each year for her birthday she asks her children to give her the same present. "Turn off the lights to help save the earth." But make NO mistake: she loves a good shopping trip and pedicure. Lulu in La La Land is her first book. The second book in the series, Lulu in Honolulu will come out in Spring 2014. To slow life down, Elisabeth and her children spend time living in Cambria, California and Kennebunk, Maine. Before writing the Lulu Series, Elisabeth worked in media and government. She's a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, MA and Stanford's School of Education. She also was a Fellow with the national Coro Foundation.
PLEASE WELCOME ELISABETH TO BOOKHOUNDS!
When my daughter, Emmeline, was ten, she visited the TV set of Sonny with a Chance, watched the taping, and met the actors. The director gave her a copy of the teleplay that was just shot. Afterward, rather than chat about the young actors or cool set, Emmeline read and re-read that script. Prying the soon dog-eared pages from her hands night after night, I decided how to write my book, Lulu in LA LA Land. Why not have Lulu tell her story of life in Los Angeles in a screenplay format? I decided to take the complaint that “kids don’t read enough because they watch too many television shows and movies” and turn it upside down. Why not have kids read what a movie looks like before it’s shot? Read what the actors read? I checked out my idea with three informed sources. First, my friend, Jeff Pinkner. His credits include writer and Executive Producer of TV shows Lost and Alien. He’s now writing The Spiderman sequel. Plus, he’s the dad of three. Jeff explained that script writing is “about showing not telling.” The action tells the story. Rather than saying Lulu lives in a huge house on a gigantic property and grows plants, the first scene of Lulu in LA LA Land has Lulu running past a pool, tennis court, rose garden, and down a long driveway to save her drying cilantro plants. My second important source: Children’s Book World. Named LA’s Best Children’s Bookstore in 2012, CBW has been the go-to source for parents and teachers for almost 30 years. I braved the traffic down Pico Boulevard to ask their staff about writing a screenplay for kids. A knowledgeable young lady explained there was interesting precedent. Before TV hit our lives, plays written for children were common. As a matter of fact, Peter Pan was first written as a play. The last important source: my children. My son, Philip, ever the boy reader, immediately thought it was an awesome idea because screenplay text wouldn’t look like too much chunky print on a page. For kids stretching from picture books to chapter books, it wouldn’t be intimidating. Emmeline, however, made me consider exactly how to execute my crazy idea. “Mom, kids want to know how characters are feeling. And, it’s too complicated to just read a script because there’s all those abbreviations for stuff no one will understand.” I had to listen to her. She was my child who had just spent a month sleeping with a script. Plus, she was right. All those shooting directions could confuse a good story. That’s when I came up with “CUTS.” Throughout the book, Lulu breaks into the script and tells readers exactly how mad she is or frustrated or happy. I also added “Lulu’s Beginning” and “Lulu’s Wrap-up.” The first person writing, that bookends the screenplay, gave me a chance to be clear how I feel: being different and trying to do something unusual can totally succeed.
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