Monday, April 7, 2014

Max Watman's "Harvest"

Max Watman is the author of Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine and Race Day: A Spot on the Rail with Max Watman. Raised in the mountains of Virginia and the kitchens of Washington DC, he currently lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife and son.

Here Watman shares some ideas on an adaptation of his new book:
Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food, the movie, would go something like this:

INT. Office. Overflowing bookshelves, a farm table desk, notes and scraps of paper pinned to the walls next to paintings and bull horns. MAX WATMAN sits at a desk piled with books and notebooks. He’s typing. We see the screen and it says, “Can I raise a steer in my yard?” He rocks back in his desk chair and laughs, pours himself a drink and walks out the door.

EXT. Backyard of a small house in a quaint village. Max squints across his tenth of an acre as if it were a ranch. He proceeds to pace off the yard, making notes.

Then the credits roll. Max is sticking wire flags in the ground. I would like the music to be loud. It’s probably quite costly and not an easy thing to buy songs from the Rolling Stones, but since this is imaginary, let’s just go ahead and blast “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

The credits would be in a simple font, in a bright color that leaps off the grass background of the yard, shot from above.

As Max Watman: Donald Sutherland. He’d play me in the style of his brilliant Hawkeye Pierce. Remember? Sipping a martini and explaining that he has no olives because: “We do have to make some concessions to the war, we’re three miles from the front line.” Sharp humor in the face of adversity, bemused. Shambolic, vaguely professorial, surprisingly competent.

So it’s Donald Sutherland who is pacing off his yard while “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” is blasting at something like 100db.

Barbra Stanwyck plays Rachael, my wife, as she played Jean Harrington in The Lady Eve. She’s withering, sharp, rapid fire, beautiful, and smarter than anyone in the room. It seems that she’s hard, but she’s got a soft spot a mile wide. “Alright, Hopsy,” she says, teasingly, to Henry Fonda after he tells her that he hated the nickname. She wasn’t really afraid of the snake in his room, after all, that was just an act.

C. Russell Muth, the Dean Moriarty to my Sal Paradise, is man of manic enthusiasm. He’d have to be played by an American Icon, comfortable in his skin, ready to dive into the water. Smoothly good with a gun and a fishing rod. He’s Brad Pitt. Asked a ridiculous question (see Oceans 11) he doesn’t miss a beat. He’ll be drawing on his role as a Filson billboard in A River Runs Through It, and his aggressive wiry competence in Snatch.

The credits end by billing my son, whose role in the book is irreplaceable: “and introducing West Watman as himself.”

INT. People crowded around a table, glasses of whiskey and wine. They are eating enthusiastically, grabbing more from the platters arrayed on the table. “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is still playing, now on the stereo in the house, the band starts the bossa nova Santana solo that Mick Taylor improvised. The dinner guests are all talking at once, laughing loudly over one another, interrupting their stories. The camera is rolling on real life. Directed by Robert Altman.
Visit Max Watman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue