Pre-production on this film began over nine months ago; my Junior year at CCS. Amidst the process, I kept a number of journal entries dedicated to the Caravan project. This was the first, detailing the personal origins of the concept.
Written Jan. 22nd, 2009:
In the Studio class today, we have our first chance to pitch whatever is brewing in our minds for potential Senior Film fodder. Some people have known what they are going to do for ages now, many (like myself) are just formulating their concepts, a few unfortunate souls still haven't got a clue just yet, though they are trying.
I've had so many ideas come and go. For the longest time, I was going to rework "Customer Servicing", the animatic I created Freshman year with Sharmi and 'Guin. Then, however, I found out that a classmate was planning on using the topic of Customer Service, so I dropped that like hot shit, for fear of a cloning incident. Since, I've been milling around three possible angles - a short snippet from the Nexus original story arc involving Kayo, a silly comedy bit titled "Viva la Cluck" (Yes, CHICKENS) which Niles and I inadvertently decided to do as a joint film once we're both out of school, and the one I've actually settled upon in the end. It is titled "Caravan."
Caravan, in a nutshell, will deal with the cycle of alcohol abuse in families. It will present two little girls, each roughly 8 years old. One has grown up in an incredibly abusive situation - her single-parent father is a violent alcoholic. The other has grown up in a tight nuclear family who, due to monetary struggles, live a somewhat nomadic lifestyle; they and friends travel from campground to campground in their caravan of Rom\Traveler RV's, trucks and tents. When one girl befriends the other, the child of the alcoholic finds an escape with the genuine care of the Caravan. When they in turn discover the abuse she suffers, they confront her father, and ultimately remove her from the situation themselves.
During the confrontation, I want to have some sort of flash back to the father's own childhood and the abuse he suffered, and a moment of reconcile with the fact that he is in fact repeating that cycle of abuse all over again - this is the key point to the film as a whole - not that just that alcoholism is a vile disease, and certainly not that alcoholics are all just witless idiots who only care about the bottle, but that there is a cause for this action - it's a family disease. Whether or not this caravan of travelers are real, or a figment of the girl's imagination used as a method of escape from what she is going through, I'm not yet sure. I'd prefer it to be a literal escape for her for my own satisfaction, but am open still to either possibility.
I've spoken to mom and dad both about the project - did so first and foremost, actually. Both were the products of alcoholic fathers. Between growing up seeing the crippling effect that this has had on the two of them as adults in multiple areas of life, and watching my brother grow to repeat the pattern all over again as both an alcoholic and now father of a beautiful three month old baby girl, I feel that I HAVE to do this film. It is something that needs to be said, and needs to be seen.
Mom and dad have given me their full support in this - mom actually reacted with a literal outpouring of emotion - quite positive and passionate - when I explained to her my plans. I've also been invited by them both to ask any questions and receive any answers from then regarding their experiences, physical and emotional reactions to what they underwent as children of alcoholics: a barrier that has been lifted after 25 years of my own life spent grasping hints here and small explanations there, putting the story together as a whole throughout my childhood in realizing what they have been through. In all honesty, I'm hoping that the creation of Caravan, in the long run, is in itself a coping mechanism for all we have gone through and continue to cope with as a family seemingly entrapped in this cycle; that it will be a bonding experience, and, if even a little, provide us with some measure of healing for what has already been endured.