A writer’s statement with regard to my script in progress…
Michael’s character originally came to me, in this exact situation, in a dream. I woke up and immediately wrote down the phrase “I accidentally took a grocery store hostage”. I knew some day that particular sentence would turn in to a script, as it kept jumping back in to my mind. I kept thinking: ‘how do you accidentally take a store hostage?’ It hadn’t been clear in my dream, but I knew that to do something like that accidentally, there had to be some sort of communication screw up. Being prone to those, it wasn’t hard to move on from there: he’s socially awkward. No one gets him and his introverted ways. Confrontation is an alien, dangerous, thing to him. As is romance. Combine confrontation with the idea of romance and you’ve could a potentially fatal combination. Throw in John as an antagonist – essentially the mirror image of Michael – and you’ve got yourself a situation.
It’s kind of DOG DAY AFTERNOON meets BABY DRIVER with a dash of A FISH CALLED WANDA thrown in for good measure. About someone who is fundamentally good and (on the whole) honest, thrown in at the deep end not necessarily through any fault of their own.
As a self-proclaimed introvert, and someone who will do whatever it takes to avoid any sort of confrontation, I wanted to write [GROCERY STORE HOSTAGES] as an exaggerated reflection on just how difficult it can be for some people to deal with certain situations.
Though I’ve never personally taken anyone hostage, whether accidentally or otherwise, I really felt that I could sympathise with Michael, and tried to place myself in to his shoes and really wonder if I would act in a similar way to how he acts throughout the film. I believe I possibly would, though it’s unlikely it would go quite so far.
The whole situation is kind of ridiculous, and many people would likely think ‘there’s no way that something like that would ever happen’, so – conscious of this – I made the script a comedy-drama rather than a straight drama. Sure, I tried to keep it relatively realistic, but the scrapes that Michael manages to get himself in to somehow seem more sympathetic rather than purely pathetic when laced with humour.
Though there’s humour, the film goes to some dark places. Through this exaggeration for both comic and dramatic effect, I wanted to show just how difficult it really can be for people with tendencies for extreme social aversion. Michael gets massively abused and still he fears Kristi’s rejection more than he fears for his own physical well-being. He’s terrified that she’ll laugh at him and he’ll never get to see her again.
For him, there could be no greater loss.