The buzz of the press was as palpable as my heart pounding. I stood in front of the big screen like a proud momma watching her baby graduate high school. My first feature as a screenwriter, BRO’ starring Danny Trejo and some major motocross players, premiered at the AMC Orange with a five week run at AMC theaters in Southern California, and would later be digitally distributed by Lionsgate (You can find it on Netflix).
The film ended, the credits flashed to the thump-thump of the film’s hard rock soundtrack. There was my (maiden) name, solo, second card: “Written by Kim MacKenzie.” Euphoria.
After the film ended, the Q&A with the audience and the press commenced. As the only woman standing in a lineup of men, I couldn’t be missed in my bright blue dress and leopard spiky heels. The questions were hurled at us, “How did we come up with concept/funding/characters?” “Why did we choose motocross?” But, most of the questions that were directed at me were along the lines of, “How did you write the female characters?” (NOTE: There were only three or four female characters in the film, and all were supporting smaller parts. 85% of the film was with and about men.) Never did they ask the cute, little highlighted brunette Valley Girl about writing in a man’s voice, a man’s story, in a male dominated atmosphere.
That’s when it hit me: they didn’t believe me! Even the female members of the press couldn’t believe that a pretty little pageant girl had written a gritty, drug-infused, hardcore motocross movie. Heck, my own parents had a hard time wrapping their heads around how their little angel could write such a film. So, how could I expect anything more from people who didn’t even know me?
The press naturally assumed that it was my co-writing partner, Nick Parada, who was also the producer/director, who wrote the “male-stuff,” and I just incorporated the female element into it. I frequently was asked the question, “How did you know how the female characters felt?” But, I was never asked how I knew how to write men, or how the men felt. I was flabbergasted and thunderstruck that my female counterparts in the press could be so limited in their thinking that woman could not think, let alone write, like a dude.
To my awesome writing partner’s credit, he stood up for me, acknowledging the fact that I wrote the entire first draft, based off of his original concept. But even before that, I had to prove myself by writing ten pages that he had to pass off to the EP (the money) before I could be brought on as a writer. He recounted that even though the ten pages I wrote didn’t stay in the film, it showed I could write men…well. The scene I wrote was about the lead males on the prowl in a strip club, scavenging for hot babes and drug business, as various nefarious activities transpired. It had nothing to do with the female perspective. I had no feminist objective. It was real. A slice of life, based a little off of what I had observed of the male behavior on the LA nightclub scene. Consistently, every time he rallied for my proper credit, vying for my honor as a versatile writer, that’s when the interviews turned around. That’s when I got the juicy questions of story, depth, and the heart of ALL the characters, not just the female ones.
I didn’t set out to write a movie for feminists, or for women. I never even intended to write a “man’s movie.” I especially never intended to write a motocross flick. I didn’t know a lick about supermans and criss crosses until I researched motocross for the fourth draft, when we got branding backing from a motocross team, who said I needed to add motocross to our film in order for their sponsorship. (There were nine drafts in total.) I just wanted to write a good story. A human story.
BRO’ is about a guy who tries to change himself to be accepted, to be a part of the cool crowd. It exemplifies the human need to be loved and a part of a community. And we all, in some way, have searched for it in the wrong place for acceptance. Both men and women have felt that basic need for community, for acceptance. Both men and women can write about that need. Writing is about humanity. This is how we relate to films. We highlight a basic human need, and create the story of how our characters do or don’t fulfill that need. That’s why it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. If you understand a human need, you can put that voice into any character.