“More Potent Than You Think” Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy Talk Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Blow the Man Down’:
Set in East Coast fishing village replete with sea shanties and bars, Blow The Man Down tells the story of secrets within the underbelly of a seemingly sleepy town. Co-writers Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage Jones spoke with Creative Screenwriting Magazine about their film.
“We wrote the script over eight years,” said screenwriter Danielle Krudy. “It was a journey of world-building and characters as the story started to come together.” Blow the Man Down, was also directed by Krudy and Savage Cole.
The tale uncovers the story of Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) and Priscilla Connolly (Sophie Lowe), as they attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man in their New England fishing town. But this is only the beginning of what is later revealed. We asked the writing duo what inspired their film.
Starting with the seed of an idea where two sisters cover up a crime, they spent nearly a decade fleshing out the story and defining the world. “It was sort of a revisionist version of our own history.”
“We both are Catholic. We both have sisters. We both have experience with Eastern fishing adventures. And, we’re both enamored with stories about covering up a crime,” added the screenwriters.
THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The long road to a completed screenplay is common to many screenplays. It requires many drafts and sometimes starting from scratch.
“There was one really pivotal moment around 2017 when we re-broke the whole story, trying to focus on plot mechanics. We had this world and the theme of this little town, but we wanted to recarve the whole [story], track it, and run through it with a fine-tooth comb,” they added.
To do so, the writers focused on the crime genre itself. This particular story is a crime story, somewhat in the vein of films from the Coen Brothers or Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan.
Using the parameters of the crime film genre, the next step was making sure all of the character actions made sense and integral to the story. “We care a lot about characters and we were in love with them. But first, we needed to make sure the plot turns and twists made sense, and not the writer wanting to move the story left or right.” The unfolding of the plot needed to feel organic and unforced.
Focusing on the 1-page to 1-minute screen time rule, the screenwriters then made sure the completed screenplay was cut down to about 90 pages. “We did an edit which focused on the language itself, so we could have a tight script. We wanted the pages wanted to turn themselves ensuring the reader had a good experience.”
“You want readers to have no choice but to like it. This helps first-time filmmakers move from the bottom of the script pile. It’s life or death.”
THE CRIME MOVIE GENRE
Within the crime genre, there’s also somewhat of a noir tilt within Blow The Man Down. We asked the writing duo about their creative influences. “We were watching some noir movies, like Touch of Evil (1958) [directed by Orson Welles], but when you write a script for 8 years, so many other things can influence you.”
In particular, Touch Of Evil especially influenced the screenwriters because of the world-building associated with the murder, kidnapping, and police corruption.
“We wanted it to be something where you relish watching the characters because they’re behaving badly. That’s a great thread to have within the plot. In film noir, you get spaciousness, mood, and atmosphere, which is within our appetite of cinema. It’s this silky style.”
Film noir isn’t only about the visual aesthetic of the film. It informs the characters and their decisions.
“Noir influences the world-view of the story, right? It’s about people who have interesting views on how the world works. I think this movie is from the perspective of what the town has been complacent, which is why Officer Justin (Will Brittain) has this Chinatown moment.”
This wasn’t meant to be a bleak worldview, but noir protagonists have a certain pessimism towards the world. “The characters have good and bad in them, which manifests over time.”
Blow The Man Down is rooted in the Krudy and Savage Cole’s personal experiences. Not everything made it to the screen. Sometimes life can be stranger than fiction.
Growing up as outsiders in a fishing town near Connecticut, the screenwriters said the story is actually a very personal movie layered within a crime story. “These towns are beautiful when you walk down the street, but these fishing towns – boom or bust industries – are also known for drugs and other complexities within the fishing industry.”
In addition to a heightened setting, these sleepy hollow fishing villages also provide unique power dynamics that were added to the story. “It was all really stranger than fiction. The stories we didn’t tell are sort of the Wild West of New England.”
“The murder was fictionalized, but we did find some crazy stories about brothels in beauty salons. We can’t take credit for all of the craziness, because a lot of it is grounded in something real.”
Within this setting, the writers said that although they still do some writing independently, they’re also evolved together. “We have really benefited from each other. We aspire to have flexibility in genre, but also a specific voice. It’s about character, humor, and emotional state.”
“It’s all about letting characters be themselves. Love your flaws. Make it visual. We’re always trying to do different things, but our style together is complex characters and a fun read. We’ve read a lot of stuff and when you’re forcing yourself through a script, that’s no fun.”
WRITING FEMALE NARRATIVE
“A lot of people underestimate women,” declared Margo Martindale’s character Enid Nora Devlin in the trailer. “That’s why they can get away with a lot.” That said, the story wasn’t written with any feminist agenda, but rather, built as a vehicle for the characters.
The screenwriters said their characters were simply meant to be meaningful to them. They just happened to be female. “I guess because these women are interacting more with other women rather than men makes this a feminist movie, but I think that’s frustrating because that’s how low the bar is in the industry.” Needless to say, female filmmakers face this challenge regularly.
“As artists, we just want to make a good movie, built on decisions from characters, with a sufficient plot. It’s story and character first, but we have chosen to write about women. It shouldn’t matter about gender one way or another.”
The characters are also based on women the writers know in real life (but that doesn’t mean they’re gangsters). “Women populating the story shouldn’t make it a female narrative. We just wanted to stay true to character. The women are tough because they act like men. If you think about women like your grandmother having tea, we wanted to say, ‘Look at that again. It’s more potent than you think.’” Your grandmother isn’t simply drinking tea. She has more depth and insight than you might imagine.
As such, the characters in Blow The Man Down are using a specific skillset more associated with women than men. The writers talk about how women can hide in plain sight and create influence even when others are unaware they are being influenced. This makes them more effective characters.