Screenplay Review: Race Music
Race Music is a dramatic Sci-Fi screenplay, written by Hasan Oracius and LAFA winner Eric Weber ("Just Juliana", Best Feature Screenplay).
In Race Music, Tommy, a seventeen-year-old teenager is transported from the 1950s to present day and befriends two aspiring hip hop musicians- Marcus and Tyvon, to form a special bond creating music and relationships that transcend race and time.
The story takes place in Kansas City, and starts at present day, introducing Marcus, an eighteen-year-old Afro-American rapper/musician, as he wakes up early morning. Then, we meet Tommy, back in 1958. Tommy, a musician himself, likes R&B music, back in the time when it wasn't common for a white boy ("You like R&B, do ya? You know - stuff you hear on the Colored stations..."). As we follow both stories (Marcus' present day and Tommy's 50s), we learn that back in the 50s, R&B music was called "Race Music" and played only on the "Colored" stations. That "Race Music" is the grand-daddy of rock and roll.
The two stories mix when Tommy transports to present day and meets Marcus and Tyvon. The interaction between two teenagers from present day and a teenager from the past is hilarious, and the writers use that generation gap cleverly (Tommy: "Did you see that?! Must be some kind of UFO!" - Tyvon: "Ain't nothin' but a Tesla, man"). As Marcus and Tyvon get to know Tommy, the three become closer and start playing together, hoping to win the song contest.
Every character has a unique voice and a different style. Tommy is simply adorable- a teenager who lives in a society that isn't ready to accept "Colored" music ("Why can't we play our own music, Sinatra, Ames Brothers - not Colored?"; "Colored music should be against the law. It gives you children wild ideas"). He is different from anyone around him, and obviously more open-minded. First and foremost, Tommy is humane - he doesn't disqualify music nor artist because of their color ("If I love the music, how can I not love the people who created it. I love all people"). Tommy has high self-confidence and he knows how to be rude when necessary (Driver: "Try not to get yourself knifed". Tommy: "Try not to get arrested for stupidity"). His characteristic stands out immediately, and wins the reader's heart.
The dialogues are great. The writers pay attention to the smallest details: from the terms people used in the 1950s, to the social norms of 50s society ("My pappy says to keep the niggers outta our schools"; "Perhaps one day we'll have a colored student, right here at Knowlton High"), which gives an authentic feel, and creates a cultural gap between generations.
The screenplay's structure is near perfect. It's very well written, keeping the reader intrigued and entertained throughout, with teenage slang and jokes, funny situations and endless conflicts. Even if you're not a fan of R&B music, you'll easily relate to the story and its characters. Reading (and hopefully watching, soon) Race Music, will make you feel a wide range of emotions- which is the basis of every good story. It's funny and sad, exciting and touching, and most of all, inspiring and thought-provoking.
About the screenwriter:
As founder of the Tenafly Film Company and award-winning Sundance filmmaker, Eric has written and directed four feature films, most recently Outliving Emily, based on his short story "The Pact". His films have screened at festivals around the world including Sundance, SXSW, Palm Springs and Bangkok. The New York Times called his film Second Best, “A funny bitter understanding of male competition and ego. This smart-enough-to-make-you-squirm comedy is ripe with brutal honesty and perverse glee.” Eric started his career as an ad writer, penning the international bestseller How To Pick Up Girls on the side when only 24 years old. It sold over 3 million copies and was translated into more than 20 languages. In advertising, Eric rose to Executive Creative Director at Young & Rubicam, creating dozens of ad campaigns such as “Be A Pepper” for Dr. Pepper. His work garnered him numerous industry awards, including a Gold and Silver Lion at Cannes. In the mid-nineties, having got all his kids through college and inspired by the example of his NYU classmate Marty Scorsese, Eric retired from advertising to focus on writing screenplays. These days, Eric oversees both commercial and narrative projects for TF/CO, in addition to writing original screenplays, as well as projects he is developing with several production companies. When not writing, Eric can usually be found attending to his other obsession – golf.