The screenplay for Cracking Heads returned to the dark tone of my first two scripts and featured a main character dealing with the death of a friend. The idea began as a short film starring my friends Chad Stankunas, Matt Witmer and Jamie Jozefowski. We shot it late at night in my grandparents’ driveway with bright lights that drew the attention of the local police. Filmed entirely on a 16mm Bolex camera just like The Video Store Nightmare, I was not able to edit the footage, so it was shot in the scripted order, and we jumped back and forth between angles.
The script for my full-length version of Cracking Heads was my suburban Boyz N the Hood.
In fact, whenever I pitched it to anyone, I described it as The Outsiders meet the Boyz N the Hood.
The story follows a group of suburban misfits that tangle with inner city drug dealers. One of my Temple professors, Allen Barber, read the script and said there was something intriguing about the story of kids from the suburbs venturing into the city.
This script led to my first agent, Greg Jackson of The Pathways Agency. Greg was a really nice guy, but he wasn’t based in Hollywood, which limited his access to talent. However, he claimed to have a connection to Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement and said he gave him the script.
I would love to revisit Cracking Heads and modernize it. Like my other scripts, the story would play out completely different with the existence of cell phones. The drug dealers locate the main character because they find his video store membership card. Of course, the card was from All Star Video, but since there are no more video stores, this plot twist is outdated too.
The script for Cracking Heads also had major structural problems. One criticism I received was that I diffused every action scene too quickly. In addition, key events happen late in the script. After an earlier meeting, the main characters rob the inner city drug dealers at their corner in North Philadelphia, but this does not happen until page 95! Then the drug dealers track them down to their suburban neighborhood, all in the last ten pages!
The robbery should have happened around page 30, or page 60 at the latest, and the rest of the script should have built to the final confrontation in the suburbs.
Here is the original robbery sequence as it appeared in Cracking Heads.
CLICK HERE to read this script excerpt.