The Man With The Golden Dog

Because I clearly enjoy torturing myself, I like to add an extra element of difficulty to my screenwriting, such as how many tasteful instances of profanity I can use before it gets out of hand. No one will argue that screenwriting is already a challenging form of storytelling, so why make it even harder for myself?

Well, clearly because I’m peculiar or whatever.

While in between bigger projects, I decided to take on a challenge of writing a script for a concept that I had visualized several years prior. One of the favorite past-times of my beloved golden retriever, Jenny, was to sit on a bench at the park and watch the world go by. We did this for years. In fact, for a long time I used to enjoy half-day Fridays, which meant that my weekend would begin at 10 AM (side note: for companies that truly want to motivate their employees — IMPLEMENT HALF-DAY FRIDAYS!). Jenny and I would go to the park, which was generally wide-open since everyone else was still working, but you still had a collection of new parents and their toddlers, remote workers, senior citizens, and ridiculously handsome people like me who just wanted to chill with their dogs.

And that’s exactly what Jenny and I would do.

We’d sit on a bench and just…chill. People would always come up to us (well, her) to say hi. No fewer than 5,000 people even pointed out how wonderful of a picture the pair of us would make sitting on this bench. I started thinking…what if there’s a story here? The story of a guy who comes to a park every day with his dog and interacts with the regulars. Thinking back to a Seinfeld episode, maybe he even helps them out of a jam.

So, I decided to give it a shot last summer. I wanted to write a feature-length script with one location: a park bench. But that wasn’t enough. I also decided to challenge myself further by doing something I had never done before: keep it G-rated.

And you know what? I did it! The Man with the Golden Dog. It’s only 72 pages, which is short for a feature, but I successfully met the challenges that I set for myself. The entire story takes place at a park bench, and there’s not a single instance of profanity (I even have the profanity report to prove it), gratuitous sex, unnecessary violence, comic drug content, or bizarre close-ups of Pauly Shore’s face. I re-read it recently and it’s actually a solid effort for a first draft. I won’t share specific details of the plot, but it centers around an elderly man and his golden retriever who visit the park everyday.

This script was also an exercise in grief therapy. I spent most of 2023 attending support groups and taking educational courses on managing grief following the passing of Jenny in October 2022. I felt that writing this would help to bring me some peace, and it certainly did. Reading it now with a fresh pair of eyes has made me proud of what I accomplished.

I don’t know what I’ll do with this script, if anything, but it’s great that I have a G-rated family story in my portfolio now.

The “poster” you see was taken on February 4, 2022. Completely unbeknownst to me, a woman named Caroline came up to me as Jenny and I were leaving the park and said “sorry to be creepy, but you and your dog were having a moment, so I took this picture.”

I’m glad she did because it’s one of my favorite pictures with Jenny. I had it enlarged and framed and named it “Slice of Heaven,” because I feel like this is what our heaven would look like.

One year later, on February 4, 2023, Jodie came home. I woke up on that sunny Saturday morning excited to go pick her up. When I opened Facebook and looked at my memories, this picture came up. It was like Jenny was watching us that day.

And yes, this whole story of the picture also works itself into the script. Even the apologetic line of being a creep, because that was just honestly too funny not to include.