Inspiration for Depth of Focus

When I was a child my father and his best friend, a screenwriter, took me to see Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons. After the film, they inevitably speculated what might have been if the studio had not edited (some say butchered) and destroyed footage from Welles’ original cut.  Would Ambersons have been the greatest film ever made? The answer to that question will never be known.  But in my child’s imagination I dreamed that one day, hidden in some dusty attic or garage, a box would be discovered that contained the precious footage.  

Depth of Focus begins with this premise but takes it into the world of my imagination, where discovered footage is valuable not only as lost art but also because it contains clues to capturing a murderer. The story is a complete work of fiction of my own invention. Still, people, places, gossip and rumors that are part of Hollywood lore have served as inspiration for some of my fictitious musings and reinventions.  

Allison's Unique Perspective

The 1970s was a fascinating time in Hollywood with its strange juxtaposition of glamorous old Hollywood style challenged by the new, grittier breed of filmmakers.  

Think of Burt Lancaster’s style of acting next to Harvey Keitel’s, or, of course, the elegant David Niven at the Oscars and a streaker running by him.  As a child I was privileged to observe some of this world: while not famous, my parents were working actors in the 70s and 80s.  My mother also worked in experimental theatre where she merged improvisation with performance art.  My great-uncle was born in 1905 when Montana was still a frontier. He traveled to Hollywood where he reinvented himself into a sophisticate: a novelist, playwright and screenwriter.  His daughter, the goddaughter of Joan Crawford, and herself a Hollywood starlet in the 40s and 50s, was the subject of tabloid fodder when Ms. Crawford assisted her elopement against her parent’s wishes.  And, when my parents took me to events about town, I witnessed old studio system actors interacting with new anti-establishment auteur filmmakers.  

Depth of Focus' conflict of old versus new, innocence versus experience exists in all ages but in Hollywood in the 1970s these themes were heightened to such an extreme that it provides the perfect dramatic setting for my story.