Starving Hysterical Naked – the film

Soly Haim
Script: Michael Bockman
Doozy Film Factory
PO Box 25164 Los Angeles, CA 90025


Starving Hysterical Naked is the story of a close group of young friends who formed the core of the most influential “youth” generation of the last fifty years. The main characters of are based on the people who were the nucleus of Beat Generation — Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady. In the colorful world of New York and San Francisco in the late 1940’s and ’50’s, these bohemian friends embarked on a long odyssey to escape middle-class respectability and ultimately revolutionized modern literature. Using a “frame” of a 1957 Jazz and Poetry reading at the Hungry i nightclub, the story is told by the various characters in chronological vignettes that collectively paint a complete picture of their lives and times.


A handsome, muscular, intelligent man with brooding features, Nick is an aspiring writer who comes to New York in search of adventure. He falls in with a pack of young writers and artists, who, as a group, explore the wilder side of the young life: they party, they listen to bebop jazz, they experiment with open sexuality and drugs, and most importantly for them, they formulate their theories of art and writing. Andrew Spector, seen as an intense, earnest, 18-year-old, arrives in New York to attend college and quickly falls in with Nick and his young bohemian crowd. Julian Hall, 19, is a smart, smug, world-weary bohemian. As one of the leaders of the group of poets, Julian introduces Andrew to the San Remo bar and unrestrained lifestyle of his group who gathers there. Julian life comes crashing down around him when he kills a man in self-defense and lands him in jail.

All their youthful idealism is ultimately shattered after the murder. Their early wild days come to a tragic end and they are forced to go their separate ways. As a consequence of the murder, Andrew has a breakdown and ends up in a mental institution. His psychoanalyst convinces Andrew that he really is crazy, but, as a writer, Andrew concludes, “maybe this sanity business is overrated.” Later, reunited with the crowd, Andrew vacillates between the wild, experimental artist’s life and respectability.

A lanky, highly intelligent man, Davis Leland likes nothing more than hold forth on matters of philosophy with his band of devoted followers, whose number includes aspiring writers Nick and Andrew. About as nonconformist as one can reasonably get, Davis is an avid drug user whose sexual preference is very flexible. Although he’s primarily gay, Davis marries his partner in addiction, Jannie, and together (in very odd, but loving way) they embark on a dangerous, self destructive path of continual experimentation with drugs and lifestyles. Their marriage proves a very rocky experience, one that comes to a tragic end when Jannie, suffering a delusional break in the streets of Greenwich Village, climbs a church steeple and dies in an accidental fall.

Feeling lost, Nick buses across the country to San Francisco where he meets a handsome hustler named Bret Nealson. A friend of Andrew’s, Bret becomes fast friends with Nick. A strapping, sandy-hair Marlboro Man type, Bret is a loose cannon–a wild and explosive hedonist who cares nothing for society’s rules and regulations. Full of devil-may-care attitude, he shows Nick the sights of San Francisco while impressing Nick with his unconventional outlook on life. The wildly energetic Bret forms a brotherly bond with the ever-searching Nick and they agree to share everything in their lives. Their friendship grows tighter when they drive all the way back to New York to get Andrew out of the mental hospital. Their crazy, non-stop car trip across country has them picking up girls, popping Benzedrine, singing jazz, driving fast, and happily celebrating the unbridled spirit that keeps them speeding over the highways.
Later on, the eve of their fame in 1957, a group of young writers and poets gather to give a reading of their works at the Hungry I nightclub in San Francisco. Nick Constantine reads his story of how he falls in with a pack of young bohemians that includes, Davis, Andrew and Julian.

As Nick struggles to establish himself as he writer, he takes all of his edgy experiences and attempts to write about them in a new, modern style that will change the nature of contemporary literature. Years later, after serving his jail term then living in Japan, Julian is reunited with his old friends. He is now a student of Zen Buddhism and their new time together greatly influences Andrew and Nick. Andrew becomes a college professor., but academia gives him no peace of mind, and instead leads him to a life-changing epiphany and his true calling as a groundbreaking poet. The film ends back at the Hungry i Jazz and Poetry reading where all are reunited through their stories, poetry, and lives that will ultimately change the entire culture of America.


NICK CONSTANTINE (based on Jack Kerouac)
ANDREW SPECTOR (based on Allen Ginsberg)
DAVIS LELAND (based on William Burroughs)
BRET NEALSON (based on Neal Cassidy)
JULIAN HALL (based on Lucien Carr / Gary Snyder)


Why do you want to make a movie about the Beat Generation?

Because their story is one of the most important and exciting stories of our contemporary culture. As the first post-war youth generation, they were the original wild ones. They inspired everything that our youth oriented culture has become. Whether you like or approve of them and their behavior (and lots of people don’t), they directly influenced everything that is current today — from fashions (Levi’s, khaki slacks, T-shirts) to the arts (poetry readings, rock n’ roll, rap) to lifestyles (free-sex, drugs).

Do you really think a contemporary audience can relate to them?

If the movie is made properly — if it conveys the excitement, the sense of discovery and the hardships of growing up — an audience today will not only relate, but also see themselves on screen. Youth is eternal. The restless, wandering, experimental spirit of youth has never been more evident than in its raw form of its originators – the Beat Generation.

What is the story about?

Simply, it’s a story of young people who are passionate about their lives and art. It’s a story of how they push lifestyle boundaries in search of their truths. And it’s a story of how they inspire, fight, love, and prod each other toward greater artistic heights. The key to the whole movie is told right in the beginning, when the main character, Nick, says: “The adventure of my life began with the intersecting web of other lives, unlikely lives that were to crash together like meteors, sending a shower of sparks across the sky and setting the holy heavens on fire.”

Why have you fictionalized the characters?

People fictionalize real events to create a “higher truth.” Jack Kerouac wrote about this same group, and wrote in fiction, even though most of it was true. It gave him the freedom to create the “higher truth.” The script of “Starving Hysterical Naked” follows Kerouac’s tradition. The main characters are based on the real people of the Beat Generation: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady. Ninety percent of the incidents portrayed in “Starving Hysterical Naked” actually happened. But fictionalizing it allows the story to be more true to the real spirit and people of the Beat Generation than a “docu-drama” could ever be.

If the vitality of the real characters is portrayed properly, if the story conveys excitement and drama, it doesn’t matter what the characters are named. Most of the audience only vaguely knows the names of the real Beats. Like the fictionalized characters in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” the real attraction is the freedom, guts, passion and fun of the people that inhabit the story. Ultimately, that is what an audience cares about.

Haven’t there been other movies about the Beat Generation?

There have been a few pictures that have focused on isolated incidents of the Beat story. Unfortunately, they have all fallen very short. This has everything to do with their approach to the material, and nothing to do with the subject matter, which is rich with character and drama.

One of the main reasons the other movies have failed is that they tried to tell their very limited stories in traditional ways — totally ignoring the experimental ethic of the Beat culture, totally ignoring the excitement of the times, totally ignoring the rhythms (jazz) and the youthful energy of the people.

How will “Starving Hysterical Naked” be different?

“Starving Hysterical Naked” will not be a “straight” telling of the Beat story. It will be a Beat film. It’s purpose is to try and put the audience into the characters lives; to make the viewer feel the excitement of what it was like to be twenty years old in New York City in the early 1950’s.

What will make it a more authentic “Beat” movie?

While “Starving Hysterical Naked” is traditional storytelling in that it follows the characters chronologically from how they met, what they did to inspire each other, and how they ultimately found their own paths to success, the story is told in a “Beat” way. It uses the different narrative methods of the Beat Generation (chronicle, poetry, song, journals, letters) to constantly surprise the viewer and take the audience into the “Beat world.”

The music score will be all jazz from the period, re-recorded by current jazz players to recreate the heat and excitement of the music. The jazz score is essential to the feeling of the film and will accentuate the rhythms of the scenes and sequences.

Similarly, the cinematography will try and capture the feeling of the youthful era. There will be lots of long tracking masters, often hand-held, following the characters. This will provide a free, fluid feeling that reflects the hip looseness of the times. It will also allow for a more realistic and authentic flavor.

What do you hope to accomplish by making “Starving Hysterical Naked?”

Basically, tell an important story with great characters in a unique and exciting way.


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