It was late May when I got an email from cousin Fred that outlined extensive changes he wanted to make to the script. And they were very, very substantive, involving not only revision of dialog, but plot and character as well.
I wanted to keep Fred as director because I was comfortable with him and trusted his experience. To lose him would be a setback to the film as well as to my psychology at this point.
With his notes, I went through the script, making those changes I felt would not impact negatively on the film. In the end, there were too few of his suggestions that I could accept. I sent the script back to him with a reminder that he’d come on as director with the understanding that the script was locked.
Then I got a call from him that broke my heart. He said his suggested changes were imperative, was adamant that the script was horribly deficient, and said it had taken him until now to realize it. If I were unwilling to accept his changes, he was no longer interested in directing it. And so we parted ways.
This event was seminal. I realized that I was so confident in the screenplay that I was willing to part with Fred rather than change it. Also, losing him was so sorrowful to me that it would inure me to losing any other staff on the film at any later point. My commitment to the script had been sorely tested by his challenge and criticism, and my conviction was reinforced.
Angel was a big help to me in coping with my loss of Fred. His attitude was that “these things happen on a film” and you have to just keep moving onward. He immediately set to finding another director. He had several resumes and talked to me about some of the prospects. One that interested us a lot was Roger Lindley.
Roger lived in Amarillo and had some interesting directing experience. We decided to have him read the script. Then we had a telephone conference call in mid June. When I told Roger that the script was locked, he said he was not interested. Angel and I went back to the prospects list.
Unexpectedly, Roger called me with a proposal. He would make revisions he’d like to make to the script, I would review them to see what I could accept, then we’d talk. Neither of us would be under any obligation. It was a no-lose proposition.
Roger’s suggestions were mostly acceptable to me. I liked his approach and his enthusiasm for the project. And I had a good feeling about him as a person; I simply liked him. It was wonderful to have found such a promising director within only a few weeks of losing Fred.
We three decided to hold auditions starting in mid July. In the interim, Roger and I would trade a number of thoughts on the script as we tweaked and reached a closer understanding with one another on the project.