Date of Submission
Film and Electronic Arts
Writing my first feature length screenplay for my senior project felt like the natural conclusion to my experience at Bard, which I chose to attend intending to learn said craft. While I have been introduced to many different areas of film making and film criticism in my time here I knew that writing was my medium, that a script would allow me to express my ideas in the way most true to them and to me. My chosen subject was one that, decidedly, required no research on my part due to its being deeply familiar to me: my life experience. The script is not autobiographical, but rather inclusive of aspects of people and places that I have experience with, people and places that I understand subjectively. To describe the subject matter of the script would be to describe a version of reality that in turn acts against it, that manipulates truth and presents instead a hypothetical that is honest in and of itself.
My formative years were spent in a rural development in Delaware. I attended very small public schools until high school, when I chose to attend a private Catholic school in Wilmington. Since my youth I have had an interest in the outdoors and in hunting and fishing in particular, two pursuits that were readily encouraged and reinforced by my father and friends, but perhaps even more so by Delaware’s landscape. Through these activities I was introduced to many different sportsmen and consequently grew familiar with their ideals, experience that, in combination with the intimacy of a rural school district, gave me a unique appreciation for some of the complexities of rural existence.
Attending Bard was a self-inflicted reality check, a decision I made for the sake of my own personal development. I was eager to leave behind my ultra-conservative high school and experience the opposing ideological extreme; my curiosity was satisfied, to say the least. At home I read often, practiced music and drawing and enjoyed watching films, but I was oblivious to the greater creative (and political) arenas of these respective industries. Not surprisingly, after adapting to my new environment I found it difficult to reconcile my life at home with my life at Bard, that is to say I felt bound to two worlds that seemed to be in conflict, however nuanced. To a degree, I was still struggling with those pressures before starting my senior project, and I came to see it as an opportunity for self-reflection and the subsequent contextualization of my identity and unique insight.
Developing my idea proved to be a difficult and emotional process; it was and remains a balancing act with a high risk of generalization, of over-simplification, of trite political incorrectness and, ultimately, of those I hold dear identifying with characters and feeling that they have been somehow misrepresented or judged, to say nothing of form or technique. At times I felt uncomfortable, self-conscious, selfish and ashamed, and as I slowly overcame these inhibitions my story continued to develop. Still, it was not until fairly recently that I finally acknowledged the correct approach to the material, for I had continued to resist something about it and not allowed myself to fully commit to it out of some internal irrationality. That being said, there is still much work to be done.
Decoy is the story of Adam Smith, a native Delawarean and duck hunter graduating from a prestigious enough college somewhere in New York. Raised by his father, a high-school teacher, and his grandmother, Adam tries to be all things to all people, to please everyone, even if it entails dishonesty or insincerity and is at his own expense. Excited to start a life in New York City, circumstances force Adam to move back home and he finds himself confronted with new responsibilities and old obligations. An old family friend, Jack, begins teaching Adam how to carve duck decoys used for hunting and Adam starts to realize that things aren’t as simple as he thought.
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McNeeley, David, "Decoy" (2011). Senior Projects Spring 2011. 71.
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