Chloe has a trust problem: her parents.
One fine California afternoon in spring 2018, my daughter Sophie and I decided to make a film. Why? Well, a deep love of acting is what we have most in
common, and our recent experience acting in a short comedy film together emboldened us to think we could make a film, too. "Okay, but it's got to be good, dad!", she said. "All right,
then, we'll have to write it first, and we'll need to write from what we know," I answered. We brainstormed situations rooted in real life familial problems we could relate to. How
does someone who has passionately loved her childhood navigate through the changes into adolescence she knows are coming? How are her parents affected by her suddenly blossoming
independence? What if they don't trust her?
What happens when Chloe's parents think she's up to no good?
Sophie and I wanted to illustrate in concrete, comical ways how these issues can disrupt comfortable family habits. Our central idea: what happens when
parents have a reason to think their teenager is up to no good? Should they rush in like the cavalry to nip the problem in the bud? Should they sit back, trusting their teenager to
work through the problem on her own, despite the real threat of harm?
What if Chloe's parents are famous?
These are serious issues, but great comedy comes out of serious stuff. Still, we wanted our story to be entertaining, even hilarious. So, we asked ourselves: how would these familial stress points be magnified if your parents were famous? Thus was born Chloe's dad Billy Rome--a laid-back, surfer-slang wielding rock star--and Chloe's mom Esperanza, an immaculately put together, larger-than-life Latina.
What marital weaknesses get exposed by sudden, unexpected stresses?
Finally we wondered: suppose Billy and Esperanza get additional external stresses, such as financial worries: what marital weaknesses (maybe,
ahem, bedroom intimacy issues?) get exposed in moments of crisis?
The result? Comedy gold.
The result is a very funny set of episodes involving a rock concert, a shrink, a priest, and a slacker teenager with the hots for Esperanza, in circumstances involving misleading evidence, inappropriate public displays of affection, and characters who are clueless that their problems might be of their own making.
Lovable, earnest, funny characters without a hint of cynicism.
Sophie and I were inspired by 20th century comedies filled with earnest, unselfconscious characters doing their best to get along in the world. We love them in part because they don't know how lovable and funny they are. In developing the characters in Trusting Chloe, we avoided the recently fashionable impulse to motivate laughs through cynicism, irony, or standoffishness. Although Billy and Esperanza have fashioned exaggerated personas that get laughs and approval from others, and although they are marginally aware of their powers of manipulation (especially with each other), they do not stand apart from the fray of life, criticizing others from some privileged ironic perspective; rather, they welcome in people of all walks of life. They remain engaged with the world.
A tale of personal transformation . . . with a twist.
Despite their fame and seemingly charmed lives, the Romes--Billy, Esperanza, and Chloe--all struggle with problems they did not expect to be so challenging.
Their hilarious failures reveal their need for the kind of personal change that doesn't come easy (and might involve a doozy of a twist or two). Just as it is for all of us who want to get
better. We wrote this screenplay for all the sincere seekers of better lives and a better world. In the larger than life characters of Trusting Chloe you just might find a
bit of yourself.
Todd Long, co-writer (with Sophie Long)