The 45-minute "Love is Blind" is a story about a physical therapist caught in a physically and mentally abusive relationship. Only through one of her patients, a young blind boy, is she able to "see" within herself and change the course of her life to find happiness.
"Any concept, title, scene—I write it down on napkins, paper plates, receipt paper, whatever," said West Brooks. "Later, I log in [to ScriptBuddy], make a script notation and get back to it later."
It took West only two weeks to write the 48-page screenplay. "I don't spend much time thinking hard about something. It has to be smooth, fluent, spontaneous—like a song," explained West who uses music as his inspiration.
"I can't write without loud music. It puts me in the 'zone' to keep me honest with the material. I have to have music that's in sync with the scene. I have to make a mutual connection between the two."
West spent two years as a co-host on the BET talk show "Teen Summit" right after high school. It was on this show that West was introduced to the screenplay format. After his tenure at BET, West wanted to get back on television. He studied television production at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland and started his own parody/skit driven TV show called "West-World," which he wrote and directed for a year. Feeling bound by the limitations of TV, West became interested in filmmaking.
"I read some books on how to write screenplays, read some online screenplays of Hollywood pictures, and took notes on some of my favorite movies noticing that there was an underlining formula to developing a story. Having previously been exposed to the "flow" of a story," said West, "I went ahead and picked up a pen, notepad, my earphones, and began writing a script with the volume of my music literally blasting in my ears."
"I finished my first script on paper, but I had no software and I didn't know of any programs that could format a screenplay," said West. "Then I did a search and found ScriptBuddy.com."
"I didn't have money to buy screenplay software," he explained. Because ScriptBuddy is free West was quickly up and running, effortlessly writing his screenplay in proper format without fiddling with margins and tabs in a word processing program.
"I gravitated to [ScriptBuddy's] simplicity," said West. "I remember when I would be at my job and get a good idea for the story. I would just get online and write it into ScriptBuddy so that I could get back to it once I got home."
It took West Brooks nearly seven months to produce "Love is Blind", from screenwriting to the final premiere. It cost a little over $3000 and West's car to make it happen.
West was able to use equipment for free from Greenbelt Access Television (GATE), a nonprofit organization that supplies production equipment to its members. Though West was familiar with the equipment, he had three assistant directors to help him. "They had enough camera experience to crop a shot," explained West, "but I had to introduce them to the art of storytelling."
West certainly has a natural talent for directing. "Love is Blind" has all of the cues of a real motion picture. "It's what you see and feel and how you want to deliver it to the audience through a camera," he explained about the process of directing.
"Finding actors is something I delegated to my Executive Producer," he said. West held auditions at several local colleges and found other actors at bars and other social events. "When I saw someone who had a personality similar to one of the character's, I would approach them and ask if they'd be interested in acting."
The first time West tried to premiere the film, he had to tell over eighty people to go home because of equipment problems when trying to project it. In an attempt to output the movie onto a different medium, West crashed his computer and lost the entire project.
He had to quickly re-capture and re-edit the whole movie on a new computer. "I mostly stayed at work until 4 or 5 in the morning just to get it over with," said West.
It was worth it. When the new edit was complete, over 400 people showed up for the second premiere and the movie played without a glitch.
West received a lot of recognition for his first movie. He was featured in several newspaper articles including The Washington Post. Spike Lee's 40 Acres & A Mule contacted West and wanted to see the movie. Later, he met with Spike Lee to personally give him a copy. Roman Coppola, son of The Godfather's Francis Ford Coppola, also requested a copy.
"I learned about myself as an artist. I learned that I can communicate effectively to my talent to get the performance that I wanted. I learned that as a director I use a great deal of symbolism and as a writer I use a great deal of double meanings," said West about the whole process.
So what's next for West Brooks? West has launched his own production company, Grace Entertainment, to produce his future movies. He is currently working on the screenplay for his next production.