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My life was the size of my life
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My life was the size of my life

Emma, the young woman who is the lead in my screenplay COWGIRLS, has what she thinks is a very small life. She started working in the huge auto plant the day after high school, working alongside her 50 something year old grandmother on the assembly line. Her father and mother also work there. She is a tomboy, the son her father always wanted. And the assumption, unspoken, but always there, is that she will live the life they all lived. Work in the factory, stay in the hometown, marry someone like her, live down the street from her family and raise her children there, in a place where they could run down the block and visit their grandparents and, God willing, their great grandmother.

But when the factory closes, Emma gets the idea – from a tv show about the wilds of the American West or a YouTube or a ? (where do people her age get their information? Facebook? Maybe the facts are not needed in the screenplay, but I need to know.) Maybe it’s a tv documentary she’s watching with her family – she’s running through the channels – or her father is – and something with Nevada scenery comes on – she tells him to stop, and they watch it together until her father and the rest of the family get bored. But later, Emma searches on her laptop for more images, more stories, finds the wild west of Nevada northern Nevada, the stunning high cold desert, sage brush covered, surrounded by high Sierra Cascades like mountain ranges, enticing green valleys, a break from the sparse sagebrush plateaus.

After the factory closes, she decides she wants to go there, feels like she’ll be free there, experience some kind of freedom in those open spaces. Her father’s response, “What good would knowing a thing like that do a girl like you?” He’s heartbroken, is worried that he’ll lose her, but that’s also his genuine response from his life experience.

The next shot is Emma walking away from the Reno bus station. The next shot is her hitchhiking, to no avail until Nicole comes flying around a corner in her ancient, classic Land Rover.

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