(With the relaunch last week of the Neon Reel Entertainment website, I will now be writing regular blogs over there on topics related to our various projects. I will also post links here, but I invite you all to go to the new Neon Reel site and have a look around. Learn more about our upcoming projects, The Interrogation of the Downsville Deucer, and the subject of my article today, Toby Benson Wants His Money.) As the writer of our current project, I owe a certain debt to the creators of many films and television shows, some of which I grew up watching, some I’ve discovered more recently. Matt’s already written about the influences he’s drawn from as a director for this film. Here are the works that influenced me as I was writing Toby Benson Wants His Money. —Whether I realized it or not, I should add. I had no template in mind when I sat down to write Toby Benson, other than the very general goal of writing a 30-page script. But all of these various films and TV shows were floating around in my head as I worked. As Bruce Springsteen put it more than once while dissecting his lyrics on an episode of VH1 Storytellers, “How much of this was I thinking while I was writing? None of it. How much of this was I feeling? All of it.” The Boss sounds uncharacteristically pretentious there, but he’s on the money. That’s how influences work, at least for me. Now then. I’m spoiling nothing by telling you that Toby Benson Wants His Money is the story of a woman whose stuffed dog is talking to her. Toby Benson himself is only the latest in a long line of inanimate objects that have tormented protagonists that stretches back through many decades of dramatic fiction. Modern film audiences might think immediately of Chucky from the Child’s Play series. But Toby Benson belongs to a distinct, though related, lineage.