Monday, November 26, 2007

Suisun City manager pursues passion for screenwriting

Suisun City manager pursues passion for screenwriting

By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | November 17, 2007 11:45

SUISUN CITY - If the political thriller 'Lions Into Lambs' does well in theaters, Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon - an aspiring screenwriter - hopes a revival of that genre will help one of her screenplays finally make it to the big screen.

'It is very hard to make it,' said Bragdon, who loves writing political thrillers because 'I am passionate about government and I am passionate about government service.'

Her belief in good government is the underlying message in her scripts. Backdrops have included the Vietnam War and the current war on terror.

'Look at my world,' Bragdon said of why she picked the political thriller genre. 'Go to what you know.'

The challenge for Bragdon is balancing the demands of running Suisun City Hall and a host of city issues with finding time for what she calls ' 'a ha' moments' to craft her screenplays.

'It is tough to get those 'a ha' moments now,' Bragdon said.

Bragdon was a management consultant for a private company in Southern California when she got involved with screenwriting during what she called 'a dark period' of her life.

'I came upon the screenwriting section in this bookstore and started forming story ideas in my head,' Bragdon said.

She put that on hold for the next 10 years as she became involved in city government and started up again after she resigned from the city manager's job in Pismo Beach.

Bragdon submitted her first screenplay to a Miramax screenwriting competition where she became one of the finalists in a field of several hundred writers.

Inspired by the 1973 movie 'The Way We Were,' the plot could almost be considered a sequel taking place 30 years after the film starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand left off.

Bragdon has her main character living on a sailboat in San Francisco Bay writing for the tabloid press, while the woman with whom he was involved so long ago is dying, 'watching the love of her life' fail at his career.

When Bragdon became Suisun City's manager, she had to put her screenwriting on hold again as she found her balance between her profession and her passion.

'After a year and a half, I decided I needed to pursue my love of writing,' Bragdon said.

She has since created two more screenplays, one of which has been submitted to Francis Ford Coppola and his company, American Zoetrope, for consideration.

Bragdon bounces her ideas off her husband, Kirk Bragdon, and 15-year-old daughter, Stephanie Bragdon, who writes short stories and has no reticence about telling her mother what parts of the screenplays need more work.

On a trip to Disneyland, the two spent much of the flight reading dialogue to each other aloud to the amusement of nearby passengers.

Her next effort is to tackle a romantic comedy 'because you need to show that you can write a diverse amount of material,' Bragdon said.

She is working from a handicap in a market where the most popular screenplays are action.

'But I never write action' and comedy, she said.

'The demographic studios are interested in are males from 16 to 24 and girls from 16 to 24 because that represents 50 percent of your box office in America,' Bragdon said.

Will she ever write a screenplay about a small town city council?

Bragdon laughed as she said that would not happen.

She added she is considering writing a comedy about bosses and life in an office, 'maybe about this office.'

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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