With my new film, Tetro, I wanted very much to write a personal story related to my family. I was interested in the idea of a rivalry that's passed from generation to generation—like the Oresteia—within a family of many independently creative members who love each other a lot but who suffer under the strain of so many careers. However, I wasn't sure how to approach it.
Then I found a page I'd written when I was eighteen or so about a young sailor coming to visit his brother in Detroit. I'd always intended to return to the story to finish it, but I'd never gone further than the opening. So I continued from that beginning.
Originally, I planned to write out the entire piece in prose to refresh and evolve my ideas about the story. I've been writing in screenplay format for so many years now that I usually fall back on that; however, I often suspect that prose is better for composing a story in that it allows a writer to map a character's thoughts and other elements that are not included in a screenplay but might be helpful to explore.
As the film became imminent, I abandoned this exercise to focus on the screenplay. But I'm happy to present in the Summer issue the beginnings of Tetro.
This story is available only in the print edition of the Summer 2009 issue. Please purchase a copy from our online store.