I was in my neighborhood corner store a while back, not sure why but let’s say beer as it’s the safest bet. My cashier, Sammy, and I exchanged friendly hellos before he leaned in and pointed to the man at the lottery stand and whispered “That man won a thousand dollars yesterday. Two $500.00 tickets!” I gasped with awe and envy that in a split second were replaced by curiosity and disapproval.
Well then why the hell is he still playing?
If I won 1000 you bet your ass I wouldn’t be scratching tickets the next day! I asked Sammy and he shrugged, “He plays every day”. I noticed the man had about 10 tickets.
I’ve gone through a fair amount of scratchers in my life, most with a partner in crime. Someone to promise to split the winnings and to share the brief adrenaline rush with. For a long time it was my good friend Puppet- we’d grab a couple of scratchers to go with our beers and she would end up winning a small amount of money and I grumbling about my luck. Then with my roommate Veronica. Now most frequently with my man Bo McGee. The rules always change slightly depending on the partner. Something about playing with a partner made it playful and lighter than playing alone seemed.
I’ve played irresponsibly a couple of times, when I was nickel and diming the days between paychecks and shouldn’t have been spending the change on scratch tickets. I learned that the reason people do that isn’t because they think they might hit the jackpot, but for the smaller wins. They might be able to turn $2 or $5 into $20 or $50.
Money won, unlike money earned, makes people unpredictable. The more money the truer that statement becomes.
I imagined all the ways that promising to split a ticket could go wrong. Would there be arguing? Would the amount of the win matter? Who paid? Who scratched? Pulling this thread led to the premise of Scratchers, a short film in which two cash strapped friends get in a fight over a winning lotto ticket.
On January 1st 2014 I started the year with the resolution to write every day. That lasted about 20 days. But in those 20 days I wrote Scratchers! Ten months later the stars aligned to give me 1 day in which two of the most talented actresses I know and an amazing team of filmmakers who were all available. The shoot was smooth and seamless. As a producer, Bo created a force field for safe filmmaking and I never found out about any inconvenience until we were wrapped and I had a glass of champagne in my hand. A filmmaker’s dream come true.
Scratchers is one of many shorts written to represent the lower middle class under a humorous light. The struggle is subtle, but it’s definitely real.
Scratchers will be premiering Saturday, March 7th at the Castro Theater as part of the Scary Cow Film Festival, then it's on the road as it hits the festival circuit.