Local Filmmaker Pens "Easy A"

by Rick Grant
When I walked into the theater to view Easy A my expectations were low. After all, it was yet another teenage angst scenario set in a high school–a horrible movie cliche. However, I liked the script which was witty and featured snappy dialogue. Lead actress, Emma Stone (22) displayed advanced acting skills as Olive.
So, I was psyched to find out that I had a chance to interview the film’s screenwriter, Bert V. Royal, who comes from Green Cove Springs and Jacksonville. Bert started out in the film business as a casting director who was also a gifted screenwriter. It didn’t take him long to get noticed for his writing prowess.
He pitched the Easy A script to the right decision makers and they decided to shoot his screenplay set in a Christian high school. It’s his first film, distributed by Screen Gems
The story involves a student, Olive (Emma Stone) who feels invisible to her classmates. So, she fakes having sex with a gay guy so his tormentors will leave him alone. Then she portrays herself as a trollop, wearing provocative clothing. This gets her noticed, but the stunt backfires and leads to many complex problems.
When I spoke to Bert, I first asked him why he chose a teenage character set in a high school, which is such a cliche?
“I think when you talk about teenagers, you can write anything dramatic since high school is a subculture unlike the normal world. It gives you leeway to create a character with any sort of problem. Everything is so dramatic in high school, it’s over the top because of teenage angst.”
After clearing that up, I digressed to asking Bert about his next project?
“I’m working on a project for MTV. We’re getting ready to shoot the pilot based on an Argentinian “tela-novella” set here in Jacksonville. It’s like a series, but it uses chapters instead of episodes. And, it has an ending. We still haven’t decided on a title. Everything we come up with doesn’t seem to fit the project. It’s similar to a soap opera.
Of course, we will tweak it and hopefully it will have a long run.”
My next question had to do with Bert’s childhood in Green Cove.
“I spent the first the first five years in Jacksonville, in Mandarin. I went to Loretto Elementary. I had a teacher there, Ms. McDonnell, who was such a great influence–probably the most influential person in life, in terms of creativity. It was a great place to spend my early years.”
“When I went into 6th grade, we moved to Green Cove, which was a culture shock. But Green Cove Springs is my home. It’s such a warm place, full of many interesting people. I love it here. There is such a spectrum of people. Actually, I have fond memories of being a teenager here in Green Cove.”
That segued into me asking Bert what the heck else is going on?
“I wrote a thriller, adapted from a Japanese movie, called 2BLDK which stands for 2 bedrooms, living room, dining room, and kitchen. It about two female roommates who have disagreements that escalate into violence. I kept wanting to go to the silly place, but everything in the script I can see happening.”
I commented to Bert that I see most of the quality writers going to television in such shows a “Nurse Jackie,” “Weeds,” “The Big C” and “Mad Men” et al.
“Yes, I agree. I rarely go to the movies for the reasons you stated. And, I’m presently working in television for MTV. So, I’m open to films but I’m presently working in television.
After I got what I needed we continued chatting about various subjects. Clearly, Bert is a bright guy whose talent at writing screenplays is being recognized by producers. I expect big things from him and I’ll be watching for his name on various projects in the future.