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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving


As I flipped through channels on a Thanksgiving weekend, I saw Oprah reunited with her long lost half-sister, Patricia Lee. They spent their entire #Thanksgiving lunch with their mother. Oprah said it was a ‘Beloved Moment’. I thought how courageous it was for both Oprah and Patricia to forgive their mother for hiding her secret for so long. I also believe it was probably cathartic for their mom as well.




 

The word “Thanksgiving” is a time of #gratitude. It is formed by ‘Thanks’ and ‘giving’, but the virtue of forgiveness is often overlooked. Forgiveness is part and parcel of ‘Thanksgiving’. We cannot be truly grateful unless we have forgiveness in our hearts. Thanksgiving is that perfect opportunity for us to break bread as family with relatives and beloved friends. It is truly a time to let go of past hurts and celebrate our love for one another.


 

My screenwriting teacher, Peter Russell, encouraged me to dive deeper into this family theme in my story. I discovered that forgiveness is the cornerstone when writing this movie. The Korean son, Kim, must forgive himself and take responsibility for having gone to prison due to drugs. His parents, Jung and Me Young, must find a way to forgive him.

The protagonist, Marcus, watching Oprah’s reunion began one of my earlier drafts of this story. That same episode I watched was what lit the fuse for Marcus to seek his long lost mother. That’s why there’s a mention of Oprah in our movie for her reunion was truly inspiring.

In my own situation, I was able to find forgiveness through Christ. ‘With God, all things are possible.” If you’re also in need of further assistance, I recommend professional help such as Brenda Adelman. She helped me understand my suffering has meaning. Its meaning is love. My loving wife, Holly Soriano, also helped with her bountiful heart of love.





What film, book song or moment inspired you to forgive?

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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

As the writer of My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving, I paid tribute to my father, Marvin Soriano, in our movie as the character of Jung. He teaches his son Kim like most fathers. His lessons include both academics and life ones, but Kim refuses to listen to his father the older Kim got. It makes for a more contentious relationship between Kim and Jung. It's especially since Kim is around the age where he believed that he knows everything. To fulfill Jung’s personal needs, he takes Marcus under his wing at the laundromat like a father to a surrogate son.


My father wasn’t the best academic teacher. He was extremely bright and things came effortlessly for him. An example was at his final CPA exam in college. He found a mistake on it and brought it to the board’s attention.


I remember in fifth grade I couldn’t understand a math problem. My father struggled to teach me and he even raised his voice which made me cry. I felt completely stupid and never asked him for his advice on math again.


He soon became my greatest life lesson teacher.


My family owned a printing shop on Melrose Ave when I was young. A customer once eviscerated him for a poor quality job in front of me, but it was one I did and not my father. I had rushed through it so I could go out with my friends. My father stayed late to redo the job while the customer angrily waited hissing at every step. I felt completely devastated that I abandoned my father and betrayed his trust. He never said a word in retaliation to me, or threw me under the bus to the customer.


My attitude did a 180 from that point forward. I do my best even if it meant making sacrifices. It was a teachable moment that has stuck with me to this day. And I honor it every time I stay late, get up early, or make personal sacrifices.


What lessons has your father taught you? How do you celebrate it?


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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

Updated: Jun 17, 2018


HI!

I’m the Richard Soriano, the writer/producer of “My Apocalyptic Thanksgiving.” I also take care of #specialneedsadults. And it was riding in the car one day with one of the guys that was a major inspiration for our movie. We heard a radio ad claiming you can find your soulmate online.

#Inspiration




He asked if they can find my soulmate, why can’t they find my mama?

I tried to explain that it doesn’t work that way.

Why not? You can find yourself online.

I tried to explain that they’re just random people. Finding someone online is like repeatedly screaming my name into a crowd of millions, ‘Hey Richard!’. Someone will eventually turn around, but that may not be me. My answer seemed to frustrate him even more for he understands that his family is not part of his life.


If they can find my soulmate online, why can’t they find my mama? He still persists.

It didn’t help he knew very little about her. His file also barely mentioned her. I was heartbroken. At that time, I was not in a good place with my own family in that I was hardly speaking to them. But he didn’t see it that way. He thought that I was dining at the Hilton buffet whereas he was a starving homeless man peeking through the window watching. It helped me give perspective and got me thinking…


Marcus

What if I had my main character Marcus searched for his mother? With his limited resources, what could he do? What would he do? There’s a primal urge in all of us to connect to our mother and father even if we’re in denial of it.


I started writing about situations I’ve encountered where families would manipulate the special needs adult to milk the system. One case, a guy would claim that he had trouble learning and an IPad would help him. Once, he received the IPad, he'd watch movies and play video games and never use the teaching software. Another case is where they would house the poor guy in the garage with only a mattress and used blankets. They would also use the adult with special needs to babysit their other small children even though the adult with special needs can barely take care of himself/herself. The worst is when I’d hear a parents screaming at their special needs children, “God must really hate me,” or call them a monster or curse them in every language. It always reminded me of #HarryPotter when he lived in the closet beneath the stairs, and dealt with the wrath of his aunt and uncle.


On the flip side, I’d meet mothers who felt blessed with their #autistic child. The mothers would smother the child with affection even though the child detested the hugs and kisses. We as adults innately need it like we need air. They’d also surprise the other special needs adults with treats from a grab bag full of coins, chocolate, etc to avoid jealousy. One lucky #DownSyndrome adult would be visited by his rich father from Bel Air. His father was an avatar of success: good looks, a beautiful wife and a porsche. He loved to take his son to the annual car convention, buy a sports car jacket with a matching matchbox cars. Even I was jealous.

In my story, I tried to teach Marcus that all your housemates are your family. Your friends are your brothers and sisters. The caregivers and social workers are your parents. You will spend most of your life with them. You see them when you wake up and when you go to bed. They will comfort you when you’re down and when you celebrate your birthday.


Kim

I also came up with a second character named Kim. He is a Korean young man with a family that guilted him to work in their business without rewarding him. They also never seemed to listen to his ideas of how to improve their business. Of course not. Naively, I had written myself into the story.

Kim seeks forgiveness from his family. His family seeks forgiveness and penance from him. It’s a long painful standoff where they are each waiting for the other to forgive first. When Marcus appears it turns their world upside down and helps heal the family.


Who or what turned your world upside down, but ended up turning out to become an asset or friend?

 

The movie is a love letter to the #specialneeds adults who helped me to appreciate and forgive my family. We are all family - brothers and sisters.

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