Writing a script about two teenage girls who fall in love while attending a “rehab center for lesbians” isn’t exactly the con-ventional way of getting noticed in Hollywood. Yet that’s exactly what happened to 29-year-old Brian Wayne Peterson, who wrote the screenplay for “But I’m a Cheerleader,” a pic that has received good word of mouth and screened at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival earlier this month.
Peterson got the story idea from the film’s director, Jamie Babbit, a friend he met during his student screenwriting days at USC.
“Jamie wanted to make a film about a naive high school student who is shipped to a rehab center for lesbians by her con-servative parents, and that’s where she falls in love with another girl,” Peterson recalls. “We wrote the first draft in a month, and then rewrote it for about a year.”
Peterson’s clever script attracted the attention of a hip cast that includes Natasha Lyonne, Michelle Williams, Cathy Mori-arty, RuPaul, Mink Stole, Bud Cort and Richard Moll. Produced by Ignite Entertainment, the film is handled internationally by Kushner-Locke.
“Obviously, it was a very personal issue for both of us,” says the writer, who spent his early years in a small town in Mon-tana. “At the time, the question of rehab centers of gay and lesbians was also very much in the news. It was a good way of ad-dressing the topic and to write a good comedy at the same time. We definitely wanted the film to have strong elements of satire and hyper-reality, in the vein of ‘Election’ and ‘Citizen Ruth.'”
These days, the biggest challenge for Peterson is finding commercial projects that also aim to reach people with their mes-sages. He says, “I’ve been reading a lot of teen comedy scripts lately. They’re all well-written, but they also lack any context or message.” This is Hollywood, after all.