As Hamlet said “how infinite a creation is man” yet how f’ed up we are. There indeed are infinite flaws to humanity, and to our society in particular, but I believe that most, if not all of humanity’s problems can be distilled down to self-deception, whether it be a false belief that owning an excess of things (greed) will lead to happiness, or as the characters in “…Babylon” if I fulfill my romantic desire then all of my other problems will get taken care of.
While I certainly enjoy a diverting spectacle too, my main aesthetic is to show life not as one wishes it to be, but as it shouldn’t be. Thus, why my first is all about showing the relationships and the world as it is and how everyone is really spinning on their own mouse wheels, and not much really happens until the first betrayal by Professor Bligh, and I set in motion the events where the characters will have to confront at least some of their self-deceptions and only then, can they really begin to grow up. After all, sometimes it takes adults a very long time to become adults.
Because I personally can find life to be quite painful, my coping mechanism has always been to find humor in life’s absurdities. Therefore, “…Babylon” reflects that and the drama is always leavened, not so much by jokes but rather by a certain rhythm and wit.
And as my observation from many years of living is that there are no all good human beings and very few all bad humans, my characters are complex. Moreover, I specifically wanted to write an ensemble piece where the main characters are at core, good people, likable people, but they do selfish or stupid things that hurt each other. Then they try to make it better and sometimes make it worse anyway.
The subtle character driven structure of the script owes much to its organic development with a group of actors over a year and half period. (While it’s not overt to the non-specialist, I realized after the 1st draft was done, there were distinct parallels to one of my early writing influences: the four great plays of Chekhov.)
Visually, I would reinforce the script with the look of Renaissance chiaroscuro paintings, like Caravaggio or Georges la Tour, where in the interiors are rich and saturated but the shadows are strong to reinforce the idea that people are hiding their feelings. This would evolve as the characters eventually evolve and more light will fill the scenes.
The tone and style obviously has a debt to a film like “The Big Chill” but coming of age films are also a major reference point. A good comparative would be “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Furthermore, in both of these films, music is a major factor – likewise there are a number of songs that I would use the similar purposes, in addition to engaging my young, Grammy Award winning composer.