The Screenplay


Steve Robitaille, author of the screenplay, Maria’s Papers, is the winner of four regional Emmy Awards, the Edward R. Morrow Award, and four-time recipient of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs “Media Arts Fellowship”. His work as researcher, writer, producer and director on more than 25 documentaries spanning 30 years, has taken him to locations across the United States. His short form documentary on “Peter Matthiessen and Whooping Cranes” was a finalist at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. His international field production credits include two documentaries shot in Russia, the most recent for a 2006 documentary on Alberto Alonso, founder of the Cuban style ballet, whose most famous work, Carmen, Robitaille shot in association with the Bolshoi Ballet. His work has largely focused on environmental themes and the arts, and features interviews with such noted artists as Peter Matthiessen, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frank, Carl Hiaasen, Tom McGuane, Richard Eberhart and May Sarton, to name a few.

About the Screenplay;

I was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, but grew up in Miami, Florida, surfing off of South Beach, one of the settings in Steve Clegg’s Maria’s Papers. I bought my first camera in elementary school with paper route money, beginning a life-long interest in the power of film narrative.

While pursuing a career teaching college English and Media Studies, I ventured into documentary film in 1980 with the production of Seven Ways to Kill The Suwannee. With the success of that film I was hooked, and some 30 years, 25 films and four Emmys later, I still have the documentarian’s itch to explore worlds that interest me, and that I might not otherwise have had the option to enter.

However, I would never have had the opportunity to write the screenplay for Maria’s Papers had it not been for a chance encounter with Steve Clegg in Italy. Following a visit with my wife to the Island of Capri, we were looking for a ride back to our hotel when Steve over-heard our conversation and offered us a ride. We later tracked down Steve and his wife, Jay, to buy them a “thank you” glass of wine during which time he shared with us the story of his Great Great Aunt Maria and that he had recently completed a draft for a novel based on the dark circumstances that led to the loss in the 1800’s of Whitewall, his family’s estate. I was so intrigued by this amazing tale that I asked Steve if he would entertain the idea of my adapting the novel into screenplay form.

Several years and multiple drafts later, we find ourselves happy collaborators on a work based on the novel published by Austin & Macauley in London. Having shot with crews throughout the state of Florida, including the South Beach setting featured in Maria’s Papers, I am excited about the prospect of a Florida and U.K. film partnership. My goal in adapting Steve’s novel to the screen was to faithfully translate the cinematic potential of the book, including the strong role that setting plays in the lives of the characters, and, quite importantly, the formidable presence of Maria and her contemporary counterpart, Naomi.