Lux Frisina ’18’s new movie, “Ditch,” the female spin off of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” will be on Netflix.
Can you describe the basic plot of “Ditch”?
“Ditch” is about a stressed out high school senior named Lucky who just needs a freaking day off. When her Senior Ditch Day is cancelled and everyone forgets her 18th Birthday, Lucky decides to ditch with her two best friends Scarlett and Caleb and they go on adventure throughout Los Angeles.
Who is your favorite character in “Ditch” and what about them do you like? Do any characters remind you of yourself and/or your family and friends?
Lucky is my favorite character in Ditch. When I started writing Ditch, I don’t think I was fully aware of the fact that I was writing Lucky as an idealized version of myself. But, now, I will admit that I most definitely was. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I like thinking that my script is basically a time capsule of my state of mind as a 16 year old girl. I infused all of my hopes and dreams into her character. Lucky is an aspirational character, she’s everything I hoped I would be by they time I was a senior in high school. She is cool, confident, smart, talented, feminine, athletic, strong, nice, funny, and Ivy League accepted. She has a family that supports her, a best girl friend that she can count on for life, and her best guy friend becomes her boyfriend in the end. By the time I reached my actual senior year, some of those things came true while others didn’t. But I was ok with that because I realized Lucky and I are different. For one, she lives in a movie and I don’t. But that’s the fun part about it. I get to live vicariously through Lucky who, I hope, embodies the dreams of a lot of teenage girls during one day of Lucky’s life where everything seems to work in her favor because… well… she’s Lucky! It is also really cool to be able to write something as an example for teen girls that shows it is possible to be smart and feminine at the same time. Lucky has big dreams that she accomplishes. That is an example I want to show for teen girls watching— like if Lucky can do it, so can the girls in the audience.
What inspired you to write “Ditch”?
I like to think of Ditch as an homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 16 Candles, and Clueless. I remember watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the first time when I was 15. My first reaction was, “why aren’t there movies being made like this for my generation?” Then, I thought “there should be a female version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off because, frankly, there should be a female version of everything.” Then I was like, “Hold up. Why should I wait around until someone else makes the movie that I want to watch? I’m going to write the female version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!” And, so I did. At least, that’s what it started off as. But as I continued to write, it became something entirely different from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While, yes, I worked hard to have it evoke the same emotional response, Ditch is entirely its own and I’m really proud of it.
As I got into the revision process, it was really important to me that at the beginning of the movie I introduce Lucky as a confident young woman and, by the end of the movie, she is still a confident young woman who has matured. Often, female protagonists start off shy and in a shell that they learn to break out of by the end when they finally find their voice and confidence; whereas, a lot of movies with male protagonists start off confident and end confident. While there is definitely a need for the type of movie where we learn how to build confidence, I want to see more movies with women who just are confident from start to finish. I also made the conscious decision to write female characters whenever the opportunity arose. So, naturally, all of the main characters are women accept for Caleb who is Lucky’s heterosexual love interest. It’s pretty cool to have the power to write stories and make movies about women for women that can be enjoyed by everyone.
What was the process of writing “Ditch” and selling it to Netflix?
I started writing Ditch on a Pages document during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year at Marlborough. As soon as I had a beginning, middle, and an end with a page count of roughly 90, I printed it out and showed it to my Dad. My Dad is an extremely talented screenwriter who has taught me everything I know about movies, screenwriting, and beyond. He was impressed that I actually finished a first draft of a script and he recognized my dedication and passion. So, he put on his “professor’s cap” and took me seriously as a screenwriter. He marked up my first draft of Ditch with lots of notes, set me up on Final Draft, gave me a stack of books to read on how to write screenplays, and from there, I began the rewrite.
After the sixth rewrite, I reached a point where I was happy with where Ditch was and wanted to share it with people… but, then the question became, what people? I knew no people or so I thought… For about 6 months, I had Ditch sitting in the drawer (as they say) until one magical day during my Junior year at Marlborough. I was eating lunch at school with my friend Jordan Phillips and we started talking about what our parents do. She said her Mom is an agent. I played it cool but on the inside I was freaking out. So, after school, I worked up the courage to send Jordan an email saying “I know this might sound super duper weird but I was wondering if your Mom could read a script that I wrote to see if I’m on the right track.” And, she did! Jordan Phillips’ Mom, Valarie Phillips emailed me after she read it. I was expecting a one liner like, “this was great. I’d love to read your next one.” But, no. Valarie went above and beyond (as usual) and sent me a 3 page long email about what she liked, what she didn’t like, very detailed. It was so thoughtful! I then applied her notes and sent a rewrite back to her within a week.
Today, Valarie Phillips is my agent at Paradigm Talent Agency and Jeff Okin is my manager at Anonymous Content. They sent my script out to potential buyers. During junior year at Marlborough, a company was in the process of optioning it. I was so excited. And then, the deal fell apart and it didn’t get made. I was crushed. But, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because during senior year, two producers who know Naketha Mattocks at Netflix read it and reached out and said that they loved Ditch and wanted to meet me. I remember we had our meeting right after the annual senior tradition where we all run around campus as a class and jump into the pool together with our uniforms on. So, yeah, I showed up to that meeting with soaking wet hair but it went great and I hit it off with the producers. Next thing I know, it’s June of 2018, I’ve just graduated from Marlborough, and Valarie has set my meeting with Naketha. When I met Naketha at the Netflix Headquarters in Hollywood, she decided in the boardroom that she wanted to make my movie! It was a dream come true.
What’s to come in the future? Are you working on anything new?
While attending my first year of college at Columbia University in New York, Valarie (my agent) and Jeff (my manager) have been helping me meet new people in the film industry and I have continued writing. I have been working on the rewrite of Ditch and hope we’ll land a director for it this summer. My first year of college has been AMAZING! I LOVE COLUMBIA! I’m very happy here. I’m going to major in film and the goal is to graduate as a working screenwriter and director. I have a list of scripts to write and projects to direct. I’ve started working on one called MadLib. It is dramedy about a soul searching teen named Willow who enters her Junior year as the new kid in school and is forced to navigate the unforgiving social labyrinth of high school not once but twice. Determined by her either making the school bus or missing it on her first day, we follow two very different versions of her junior year play out as the “cool girl” and the “not so cool girl” through life, love, and friendships that finally converge for better or worse, in the end.