‘Strikingly cinematic storytelling that cuts just the right way. Fine writing, sparkling dialogue. Sleek, fast-paced and exciting.’ Henry Alson
INT. WRITING STUDIO - TOWNHOUSE - MELBOURNE - MORNING
White table, white lamp, white filing cabinet, white standing desk.
Oak drawing board on table. Computer monitor, large keyboard and drawing tablet on standing desk with a tangle of power cords. Life-size golden gnome grins to one side.
White walls with a single large abstract landscape painting. Soft tones. Amorphous.
STEFANO BOSCUTTI sits at his drawing board. Pencil in hand, scrawling and scratching out ideas. It’s what he’s done his whole life.
A much loved and thoroughly spoilt caramel-soft cavoodle, DOT, paws at his forearm. Whines for attention.
Boscutti gets up and steps to the standing desk. Starts typing in his favorite program, answering 36 questions pulsing on his monitor.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Jesus Christ, Michael Jackson, Satan, Jean Baudrillard, Anne Frank, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Walt Disney, René Girard, Jane Austen, Fellini, Anne Sexton, Bill Hicks, Pablo Escobar, Aristotle, David Ogilvy, Hitler, Rupert Murdoch, Mary Shelley, Philip Glass, Queen Elizabeth 1, Marshall McLuhan, Sergio Leone, Rosa Parks, Quentin Fiore, Julia Ritson, Buddha. And Poesy, divine goddess, daughter of Zeus.
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
No, not really. That way madness lies, monsters swirl and lurk below the surface. You lose a lot for a slightly higher paycheck, slightly better service on a plane and slightly better seats at a restaurant. Famous writers with talent tend to drink too much and blow their brains out, metaphorically and figuratively.
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Sometimes I’ll dash lines down. Rehearse them a few times and then completely forget what I was going to say but somehow end up saying what I wanted. Why rehearse? Probably to confront any fear of failure or fucking up. Rehearsing gives you the illusion that you have control. Of course, reality has other ideas. Often comical.
4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
Working close to the one I love the most, a slow walk along a long beach, salt sea air, bright sun. Giant screen at night, great drama played out larger than life. Stars blinking above a waxing moon, amongst the Gods.
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
In my head? All the time. To someone else? Not even once. Should I see a therapist? Vocal coach?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
The mind. Is this a trick question? Obviously if I’d said body I wouldn’t think it’s a trick question. I wouldn't be burdened with thinking.
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
Gently in my sleep. Or in a terrible car accident with Primal Scream’s “Loaded” blasting through the sound system as glass explodes and metal warps and shrieks in slow motion. Or falling from a winged unicorn flying into the stratosphere. Or from a touch too much morphine.
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
Art, love, each other.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
For the one I love the most. To live with love is the only way to live. Despite what others may tell you. Or what you may try to tell yourself. Love is really all there is.
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
To know my birth mother. To know where I came from. Even though the impossibility of ever knowing continues to drive me, propel me. (I know, I know.)
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
Born to Italian migrants in Tasmania, Australia. My young father had accepted a job there after being mistaken for a famous Italian soccer coach at a migrant camp.
Dispatched to Udine, Italy, as a baby to be raised by his parents after his marriage collapsed. Raised and spoilt by my Italian grandparents to the age of seven. Read and collected “Topolino” comic books religiously.
Flew back to Australia as a young boy to a father I never remembered and a new stepmother, new step-sister and new step-brother on the way. And a new black labrador puppy.
Catholic primary school in the country where I topped the English class in my first year. State primary school with careering school buses full of screaming students.
State secondary school where I couldn’t get enough of media studies. Devoured a library full of psychology books. An essay I wrote on the psychology of advertising becomes part of the state curriculum. Voted school captain by overwhelming majority (because I promised students better representation, a skate park and less homework). Principal overturned election result as I was deemed too disruptive. Showdown in principal’s office ended in me storming out of the school, vowing never to return. You’ve got to stand up for your principles, right.
Walked out of the family home. Tried to get a job in an advertising agency but was told I needed to learn to write. So I got a job as a cadet journalist. Thrown in the deep end. Loved it, thrived. Learned how to write and finished my four-year cadetship in three.
Then fled journalism after being accepted into Australia’s most prestigious advertising school. Then became one of Australia’s youngest creative directors at Melbourne’s most creative advertising agency. Then was accepted into one of Australia’s leading film schools on special consideration. Then made music clips, exhibitions, plays and films. And ads.
Changed culture forever with triple j, Foxtel, SBS and major brands in Australia and around the world. Doctored a heap of plays and screenplays.
Started writing screenplays as books for reading rather than making into films. Then writing stories and novels. Usually about ambitious men flying too close to the sun, too close to their destiny. Fast literary fiction that flies too close to the truth.
I love the screenplay form, the scenes by scenes. The ebb and flow of drama. The setups, the rising beats, the pay-offs. We now all live on and through screens. It’s no surprise that screenplays are the medium and media of our times.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
The ability to fly. Not with waxed and feathered wings. Not with a cape. Not in a plane. But through the air at will, one arm thrust, swooping and looping.
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
Why is it that despite everything I have, I still want more? Why do I still need more? Why can’t I just settle back, rest on my success? Why do I have to keep pushing forward?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
Getting elected into the senate where every vote would be decided by my constituents. Not private interest, not party lines, not lobbyists, not favors. Why haven’t I done it? Lack of ability to play party politics as it currently stands. Which I guess is a convenient excuse. Power is never given, it’s taken. So if I was serious about politics, I’d lead a revolution and replace the current system with direct democracy.
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Designing and creating a life together with the one I love the most. Not following the call of the mild.
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
Honesty straight and true.
17. What is your most treasured memory?
I rarely look back. For me, the past is a place best forgotten. Especially as memories are malleable and often bear little resemblance to what actually happened. Former glories are dependent on perspective and perception.
18. What is your most terrible memory?
See above. Even the most terrible memory may in retrospect be the best ever. A memory like crashing through a plate glass door at high school, severing an artery and almost bleeding to death might be considered a terrible memory. But when I look back on it, all I see is the splendor and the wonder and the marvelous feeling of slicing through blades of light.
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
Double or triple down on my writing projects. Publish more screenplays. Stop being a creative consultant. Stop seeking the approval of others. (I know, I know.) Concentrate everything on my own creative work. Write more poetry.
20. What does friendship mean to you?
Love, kindess, loyalty, giving, laughing, sharing, supporting, playing, joking, jossing.
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
Starring roles. Above the title roles. I’m pretty sure they’re what gives meaning to my life. What it means to be human.
22. Share something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
Honest, generous, smart, creative, sublime.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
In a word, no. Every family is unhappy in its own way. My childhood consisted of being blessed as the only golden child to my grandparents in Italy until the age of seven and then dodging/placating/fleeing an angry and resentful father in Australia from the age of seven.
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
I wish I knew. It’s a little conflicted. My memories of her seem cadged from others. I can’t picture her in my mind. (I can picture a photo of her holding me as a baby, but not her). She was taken from me as a baby. Actually according to family lore, I was taken from her arms as she disembarked from a migrant ship returning to the port of Trieste. I was sent to my grandparents and she was sent to an asylum to ensure my father’s family had custody. Under Italian law, a mother automatically has custody of a child unless she was incarcerated.
25. Make three true ‘we’ statements.
We are complicit. We are somewhat mirrored. We share more in common than we know.
26. Complete this sentence: ‘I wish I had someone with whom I could share ...’
I wish I had someone with whom I could share ownership in an advertising agency that startles the world.
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, share what would be important for him or her to know.
I’m fairly thin-skinned. I bruise easily. I bleed. While I appear happy and outgoing with a zest and zeal for life, this is essentially a learned survival instinct as a child. Just keep dancing, keep shining.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them.
Your look, your feel. The way you carry yourself, proud and dignified. The way you stride forward. The way you think and paint and smile. The way you see everything through.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
I’m 9 years old, shaking with excitement on the starting block at the municipal pool. It’s a school swim meet, a freestyle race. Eager competitors either side of me. On your marks, get set - and I race off to the bathroom instead of diving into the pool. Everybody is laughing. teachers and students alike, pointing and laughing.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
I’ve never cried. It’s either a learned response or lack of tear ducts? Either way it’s a bit sad, don’t you think.
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
Your inquisitive nature. Your capacity to keep asking questions.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
Seriously? Nothing is so serious it can’t be joked about. The more serious, the more it should be joked about. The function of comedy is to puncture seriousness. Of course, timing helps.
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
That their mental illness is not their fault. Why haven’t I told them yet? Because I somehow feel responsible for it. That I didn’t do enough to help, to care.
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
My laptop. My entire life is on it. Those spectacular and terrifying memories? That’s where they reside. Thousands of photos, scripts, manuscripts, access to everything stored and streaming online.
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
The one I love the most. I try not to think about it because I fear I won’t cope. I fear my life, my being will crack and fall apart. Obliteration seems like a good option.
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it.
Who have I left off the list of dinner guests? Who will think less of me for having not been invited? Who will take care of the catering? What advice do you have to avoid being so stressed that I cannot enjoy the moment?