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Opening Scene:

Setting: Johnny’s bed. It is roughly 2:00AM.

Length: 2 minutes

The camera will take a bird’s eye view shot of Johnny lying on his bed. As the camera gets closer his head moves slowly from left to right to signal some type of distress. At this moment, there will be a flash of a blood stained rope accompanied by snickering. The camera will capture the beads of sweat that begin to perspire on his face. Again, his head moves from side to side. The flash reappears, but this time it is a few seconds longer. The scene will switch from Johnny’s sweating face and the flashes of his nightmare. Each flash will become longer, revealing what he is actually dreaming of. The first flash was of a rope, the second flash is the extension of the same rope, and the third flash is a quick view of a person’s head. The fourth flash is an extended version of his nightmare. In this fourth flash an African-American man is hanging from a tree with the same rope that was shown in the beginning of the scene.

The camera shows an eye level wide shot of his body and then slowly zooms out, showing a crowd of people laughing. In the center of the frame, there is a small pale faced brown-eyed boy looking directly at the corpse. The camera zooms in on his face revealing his watering eyes. He takes a deep breath and looks at his father standing at his left side. The boy looks down in dismay, but quickly lifts his head up. The laughter fades, while a heart beat can be heard. The boy’s heartbeat increases as he looked back up to the corpse. The dead man’s eyes seemed to look directly at him. From this point, there are three flashes of the man’s eyes that alternate with Johnny sleeping in his bed. The camera gets closer to Johnny’s face, there is round of sweat around his pillow. The scene is now on the face of the corpse. After this frame, thunder is heard in the background. This sound wakes up Johnny gasping for oxygen.

END SCENE

Pivotal Scene:

Setting: Johnny’s house. It is approximately 6:00PM

Length: 5 minutes

This scene begins with Johnny inviting Georgia, for the first time, to his mansion. Johnny directs Georgia to the living room where they sit and have small talk. Johnny is wearing a business suit and Georgia is wear a blue printed dress. The lighting is mildly bright.

Johnny: That was a nice walk in the park. (Wide shot of both Johnny and Georgia)

Georgia: The sun was extremely high today. I’m surprised that not many people were out there.

Johnny: Yeah, I guess God wanted us to have the sky all to ourselves.

Georgia: I su’pose you right, Mr. Temple. This mighty fine house you got.

Johnny: It might be mighty fine, but it’s showl is lonely. (Looks around the house) I thought escapin’ my parents’ house, some of those horrible memories I have will go away. I guess life not like that.

Georgia: Naw, it’s not Mr. Temple. (laughs softly) May I use your restroom, Mr. Temple?

Johnny: You sure can, it’s down the hall pass the front door on the left. (He gives hand motions as he states the directions to the restroom.)

Richard and a few of his friends are walking up to the door. They are all wearing jeans and different colored shirts. The camera closes in on Richard as he turns the door knob. As the door opens he runs into Georgia.

Richard: Why is it a nigger woman in my brother’s house? Tell me nigger, (his voice gets louder) why you here? Came to steal something?

Johnny hears the commotion and flies into the scene.

Johnny: Richey, (he said in a smooth voice) what you doing here so early?

Richard: We came to have drink. And guess what I found lurking in ya house, a nigger.

Johnny hesitates. At this moment in the story, he does not feel confident telling his brother that he is in love with a black woman.

Johnny: Well, she’s the new maid. (Johnny’s heart dropped and his mouth went dry.) He felt Georgia’s angry glare on his face.  

The camera gives a reaction shot and close up on Georgia’s slightly watering eyes.

Richard: Oh? Okay. He looks towards Georgia. Get me a beer.

Georgia sarcastically chuckles and walks towards the door. Before she could get two feet, Richard grabs her arm and holds her back.

Richard: The kitchen is that way nigger (pointing in the opposite direction).

Georgia: Get ya hands off me, Sir. (She said this with such a stern look.)

Richard slaps Georgia. Johnny is unable to hold himself back. He grabs his brother and back hands him. Starts to repeatedly hit his younger brother. The three friends backed away. They seem scared of Johnny in this randomly violet state.

Richard: What the hell are you doing? Johnny it’s me, Richey.

Johnny bursts  into tears.

Johnny: I’m sorry. He sobs. He faces Georgia’s direction.

Richard is stunned.

Johnny: to Richard, Tell your boys get out of my house.

Richard: I can’t believe you a nigger lover.

Richard walks to the bottom of the stairs with his friends. He wipes his bloody face.

Richard: Daddy  ain’t gone be too pleased about this, and he  gone slit that nigger’s throat.

Johnny: Daddy just gone disown me. Ain’t nobody slitting nobody’s throat.

END SCENE

Final Project

EVENING: Edgar is born again

Through the black of the screen, small white letters begin to appear: August 13, 1900.

As the screen begins to lighten, lighting cracks, and breaks the silence.  The picture shows a large aerial view of massive terrain, as the camera sweeps over the land, slowly, then picking up speed.  As the camera slows down, a small town begins to come into view. The camera pans the streets, as a rat darts from one dark corner to another, bumps into a trash can, loudly, before it scatters into the gutter.  The camera continues showing one run down house, then another, only a muddy road separating them.  Finally it stops at the front of a small, rundown shack.  The silence is broken by a loud, prepubescent scream.

Inside the house a pale, thin boy is seized in pain, his body twisting awkwardly on top of the wooden table in the middle of the humble room.  Holding the boy’s hand, an older woman, salt and pepper hair, held his hand and whispered in his ear.

MOMMA: Calm yo self, boy.  God ain’t gonna set no pain on you, as you cain’t take.  Another cramp seized his body.

MOMMA: Them chariots gonna be worth all this if they get you tonight.

The old woman’s voice is soft and quiet in that small space, as tears rolled down her pale cheeks.  Crouching in the corner, a young boy clutches a bible, scared.

The pain seized Edgar again and his body contorted; his arms flailing behind him, his head thrown back.  His fingers were knotted in peculiar shapes and he stares down at them, unable to move. The camera follows his gaze, fixed for a few seconds on the boy’s awkward fingers.

BROTHER: The devil.  (The older boy, David, whispered from the corner.)

MOMMA: Shush up, boy.  Now go on over there and get me something to put under his head.  Go on now.

Edgar’s brother watched for another moment, and as Edgar screamed again, he jumped and ran into the other room.   When he came back he only clutched the bible.

MOMMA: Give me that thing.  (She took the bible from David, and placed it under Edgar’s head.)

MOMMA: This here will give you comfort in your time of trouble.

Outside, thick drops of rain hit camera, highlighting the crude windowpane in the shack.  David went to the window, rubbed the condensation off, and stared out into the night, the camera lighting the boy’s scared eyes.  The wind hit the old wooden shack hard, the rattling noise breaking the silence in the room.  Suddenly, the door flew open, air and dead leaving sweeping into the room.  Edgar’s Momma ran to the door, trying to close it, as the rain rushed inside.

Edgar screamed and blood began running from the boy’s mouth, ears and eyes.  In the back, Edgar’s brother screamed and ran out of the room and his mother just stared at him.  Suddenly, in the corner of the small humble room, a shadow began to take form and spread seemingly without a source.  Edgar watched through bloody eyes.

Lighting struck somewhere outside, which was followed by a loud boom.  Edgar looked down; he saw a shadow move across the floor.  It was small and almost unnoticeable at first, but as he watched, and the camera slowly focused, it grew bigger, climbing the wall to within a foot from the ceiling.  It stood there, still, unmoving, as if watching.  His mother did not seem to notice the shadow.

The book beneath his head grew harder with each moment, and the boy struggled against the weight.  Edgar wiggled his body until his head was no longer on the book, but beside it.  He touched it, closing his eyes to finally allow the inevitable to come, as if accepting his fate.  In the distance somewhere, he heard his mother gasp.  He touched his face, the blood on his hand was bright red compared to dark, depressive room.

Just at that moment a great wind pounded on the house, blowing open the doors, as they rocked back and forth on their hinges, the house began to shake and rattle as if it were coming apart at the seams.  At the same time, almost simultaneously, the dark thing in the corner dodged at Edgar, and before he could even move, it had seized him, grabbing a hold of him..

The camera switches to show the view from Edgar’s eyes.  The sound is completely absent and the boy sees a concession of visions flash before his eyes. Ancient temples, blood, death, plague… Suddenly a bright light blinded him.  It seeped from his pores and into his humble room, in the small shack that he shared with his family. After what seemed like a life time, he opened his eyes.  He awoke with his mother and brother staring at him.  His mother’s eyes were red and stained with tears.

EDGAR: Woman why are you crying?

The old woman looked at him strangely.  Thunder booms in the distance.

MOMMA: Rabboni?

EDGAR: I have seen the Lord.

His mother sighed, began to cry. She held the bible that had been lying next to the boy’s head.

MOMMA: That was the answer that our dear lord gave to his momma, Mary, in this very book…. It means teacher.  My boy, you are meant to lead others.

MORNING: Twins in Church

The screen goes black, small white letters appear: Hopkinsville, Kentucky July, 1910

Light, playful music of children softly plays.  In a small humble room, a group of people sit and listen to a sermon.  The preacher screams loudly and as the music fades, his is the only voice heard.  The camera slowly focuses on two little girls sitting on the pews.  One girls is very light skinned and her complexion is a contrast to her sister whose skin is very dark.  The dark skinned girl has on a very light yellow dress, and the light skinned one has on a darker blue one.  The camera picks up this contrast of complexions and colors and room and sounds fade in the distance.  The room and everything around them is dark and dull in contrast.

The darker skinned girl swings her legs back and forth, kicking the back of the rickety bench. Beside her, her daddy gives her a look, and so the girl stops and sits back, defeated.

A few rows back a woman shouts “Amen” and begins wiggling in her seat.  As the minister talks the women falls to the floor, shouting crazed hallelujahs to the Lord.  Leona and Iona giggle covering their mouths, staring at their father, so they won’t get in trouble.  Beside her, a man waves a brightly colored fan with a picture of a pretty white angel on the back, over the old woman.

The girl’s oldest brother, Jacob, covers Leona’s mouth with his hand to keep her from making too much noise. Mr. Jefferies bit off a great, big hunk of his tobacco, walled up in a big old ball, chewed on it a bit and got up and spit in the tub in the back of the church.  He winks at the girls on his way back to his seat.

When the preacher is finished, everyone gets up and shakes hands in fellowship.  Leona stands up, looking bored.  By the time she makes her way outside, Iona is already there laughing at her.

A young girl wobbles out, taking each of the stairs one at a time.  Her feet were as big as sausages and her belly is bigger than her head.  She strolls by the girls, smiling at each of them and walks off into the trees and disappears.  Iona looks at Leona and then back at her parents, and before her sister could stop her, she dashes off into the woods after the girl.  Leona follows, her bright skin flushing red in the heat.  The camera runs behind the girls, the lens brushing against the tree branches, and over tree stumps.  As they run, the same lighthearted son begin to play again.

Suddenly it becomes obviously darker inside the tree line than it had been outside, and the music stops.  The sun hardly peeks through the bushy treetops at all, and in the camera light, it looks almost as if it has turned to night instantly.  Somewhere in the distance, the girl cries.  The noise distorted in the woods and the shadows begins to take on a sinister feel, as the light grows even darker.

Iona turns to her sister and the girl’s face is concerned.  Leona, smiled, but it’s forced and the camera zooms in on the girl’s imperfect teeth.  Leona then reaches out to her sister, tries to stop her twin.

The pregnant girl sits on a fallen tree trunk, her hand perched on top of her massive stomach.  Tears stained her face, falling to her humble dress in fat drops, staining that too.  She tries to smile when she sees the twins, but it’s strained.  Iona looks at her sister, nods and says, “Janice.”  Iona made her way to the pregnant girl.

IONA: Are you all right?

PREGNANT GIRL: Yeah.

Suddenly Iona reaches out and touches her, quickly, too fast for the camera to see, so it moves in slow motion. A tiny shock is sent through the girl.  Janice jumps and looks into the Iona’s eyes.

PREGNANT GIRL: How old are you and your sister now?  Nine?  (Iona nods.)  I thought so.  I remember when you was born.  They say you two was special, ya know. ( She paused for a long time.  So long she looked like she’d fallen asleep with her eyes opened.)  It hurts…real bad. (Janice touched her stomach and puts hand between her legs.)  It ain’t time though.  I got me two months to go.  It’s somethin’ else.  Something’s wrong.  I can feel it.

IONA: I know.  I feel it too.

As the camera watches, Iona’s eyes flair up like a light, twinkling.  Janice’s face begins slowly become calmer and more tranquil. The two, Iona and Janice, stare at each other as Leona watches.  Finally Janice closed her eyes.

IONA: Suffering never last as long as it feels sometimes.  And heaven comes after, momma said.  So it’s worth it, I guess.

The pregnant girl smiles, nods. She sits there for a moment longer, then stands up and wipes her dress clean.  When she walkes away, she is just a little lighter on her feet, her back just a bit straighter.

LEONA: The baby’s dyin’.

IONA: You sure?  (Leona nods.)

IONA:  What’s wrong with it?

LEONA: It was bad.

Suddenly the camera flashes to what the girl saw in her vision.  Dramatic music booms as the insides of the girl’s belly come into focus.  Amniotic fluid swirls as the fetus appears on screen and slimy crawling, wiggling worms smothered the life from the unborn baby.

Childhood-Opening Scene

Because this project is a documentary, there is no script. Therefore, there are no scripted scenes. However, there is a planned introduction. This scene will simply show children living and enjoying themselves. To start off, the children of each family will speak to the camera. There will be collaged shots of them talking, laughing, and making faces. There will then be shots of them playing. Eventually, both the interviews and the playtime shots will be combined. During these shots, the title and opening credits fade in and out of the scene. Each text will be displayed for five seconds. The whole scene itself will last approximately seven minutes.

            I want the shots of the children in this scene to be in different locations. I intend to get shots in their homes and neighborhoods, at playgrounds, and at beaches. In order for these shots to be made possible, the families will be taken on “field trips” to local areas where the children are able to play safely and, at times, interact with other children.

As a soundtrack for this scene, I chose the song “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson, which will begin about twelve to fifteen seconds into the scene. I chose this song because the music, lyrics, and overall feeling of the track are innocent and yearning for love, like a child. The first three stanzas in particular are what convinced me that “Will You Be There” was the perfect choice:

Hold Me
Like The River Jordan
And I Will Then Say To Thee
You Are My Friend

Carry Me
Like You Are My Brother
Love Me Like A Mother
Will You Be There?

Mary
Tell Me Will You Hold Me
When Wrong, Will You Scold Me
When Lost Will You Find Me?

            I also want the look of the scene to be as it is throughout the whole film. There will be no tri-pod. The cameramen will be holding the cameras the whole time. This scene in particular will be shot at multiple angles depending on the location. For example, say the children were on a carousel. They camera will be in facing the kids on the carousel. Another camera will be off the carousel almost on the floor as if the audience were looking up at the children. A third camera will be where the parents usually watch their children wave, standing at least ten feet away looking directly at the carousel.

Quiet Town (scenes)

Little Jakes: The small, dark kitchen of the Lynwoods’. A round table stands to the audience’s left, with three chairs set up around it. A dim light clicks on above the table and we see ASHLEY standing in the doorway. The orange farm cat LITTLE JAKES hops onto the table, his tail flicking. ASHLEY shuffles towards the stationary camera, his head hanging because he is tired of such a demanding day. ASHLEY rubs the back of his neck and lets out a long breath of air.

LITTLE JAKES (looking at ASHLEY)

Mrow.

ASHLEY pauses, reaches over and scratches LITTLE JAKES behind the ear.

ASHLEY

Good night, LITTLE JAKES.

ASHLEY shuffles closer to the camera. LITTLE JAKES watches him go, meowing continually.

The camera shot changes to a close up of LITTLE JAKES, from his chest up. Then the camera zooms in closer and closer, focusing in on his eyes while he meows incessantly.

The camera shoots to a shot of ASHLEY who places a right hand on the doorframe and turns to look at the cat, a weary look on his face.

The camera shoots back to the cat and the camera frame encompasses LITTLE JAKES’ face, above his nose but below his ears; the main focus is on LITTLE JAKES’ unblinking eyes.

LITTLE JAKES

Ashley.

The camera shows ASHLEY standing in the doorway as he jerks backwards and grips the frame of the doorway. He also slaps his hand to his chest, feeling for his rapidly beating heart and breathes heavily while looking at the cat. The camera shoots to LITTLE JAKES, who is now sitting on the table.

LITTLE JAKES (paws at a crumb on the table)

What an incredible day it’s been.

The camera shoots to AHSLEY, who is quiet, his mouth hanging open slightly and his hand still on his heart.

LITTLE JAKES (off camera)

I liked it better when the farm was quiet. I can’t get any naps around here anymore.

AHSLEY approaches the table and the camera backs up the closer he comes to the table so we now see the back of LITTLE JAKES’ head. The cat begins to lick his paw.

ASHLEY           

Hh—How?

LITTLE JAKES

I’ve always been talking to you. You just haven’t been listening.

ASHLEY (intrigued)

Not in this way.

            LITTLE JAKES

No, but that does not mean that I have not been talking. We have all been talking.

ASHLEY (in good humor)

My conversations with the other animals are a bit more… one sided.

LITTLE JAKES (purrs)

I see. Well, I am the smartest of all living creatures. I am a cat, after all.

ASHLEY smirks and then takes in a deep breath.

Am I dreaming?

            LITTLE JAKES

What does it matter? You know what is necessary now.

AHSLEY (pauses for a moment, pensive)

Will you talk again?

LITTLE JAKES

Not like this… Never again.

The shot is of LITTLE JAKES sitting on the table. We see his full body, his orange fur bright in the small amount of light. The glossed finish of the wooden table reflects the orange color, contrasting with the curtains, windows, and cabinets behind the cat, which are dark. The farm cat is quiet for a while, swishing his tail across the table. The camera shoots to ASHLEY. He is half shadowed by the doorway he is walking towards and somewhat blanketed by the light in the kitchen.  He nods his head a little and turns to go to bed. We see his back as he slowly starts to walk away.

Suddenly the camera shoots to LITTLE JAKES. His eyes are wide and he’s leaning forward on the table, about to jump off.

LITTLE JAKES

One more thing!

It is a quick shot, because the next shot is ASHLEY yelping and spinning around.

ASHLEY (surprised)

Ah!

LITTLE JAKES (casually jumping off the table)

Don’t get that beefy cat food—tasted like tires. I like chicken flavor better.

LITTLE JAKES saunters away from ASHLEY over to the kitchen door and towards the cat flap.

The camera shoots to ASHLEY who is breathing hard and watching the cat go outside.

END SCENE

The J.J. Talk Show!: The glitzy set of the J.J. Talk Show! J.J. Style’s desk is large and slightly off the right (from the audience’s point of view). A large banner is hanging behind the desk that says J.J. Styles in big letters. J.J. is dressed in a fancy, blue suit with a bright colored bowtie. To his left sits his first guest; Veronica “Ronnie” Summers, who is dressed in a red Marilyn Monroe style dress. Ronnie has shoulder length, wavy blonde hair, makeup, and red lipstick. Ashley is sitting at the furthest chair, holding a chicken. He is dressed in a plaid shirt, sports coat and his nicest pants. A goat is at his legs and a cow stands next to him. The audience is clapping as the ON AIR sign blinks and bright lights focus on J.J.

J.J. (enormous smile)

Welcome back to the J.J. Talk Show where I have a special guest, a farmer from a tiny town in South Carolina who has brought his talking animals.

RONNIE

J.J., honey, aren’t you forgetting me?

J.J.

No, I mentioned the talking animals, Ronnie.

The audience laughs and RONNIE smiles and playfully slaps J.J. on the arm. 

J.J. (leaning over desk, looking at Ashley)

Can you tell us your name again?

ASHLEY

Ashley Lynwood.

J.J. is quiet for a moment and then turns to the audience, making a silly face. The audience laughs a little.

Ashley? Isn’t that a girl’s name?

The audience laughs harder. ASHLEY sighs, but does not frown as he has heard the joke before many times as a child.  

J.J.

So, tell us about your fascinating animals.  Did you say that they could talk?

ASHLEY

Well, only short words that—

Ronnie

Talking? Is this real, J.J.?

J.J.

Why don’t you ask the goat there, Ronnie?

The goat has his front hooves on RONNIE’S knees, trying to climb up on her. ASHLEY tugs the goat’s leash off RONNIE. The audience laughs. ASHLEY is turning red with embarrassment. 

J.J.

Keep that up, goat, and you might get a date out of her!

ASHLEY

Actually, she’s a girl.

RONNIE

Then she better watch out of J.J. will sleep with her.

(The audience laughter.)

Wouldn’t be the first time, eh, J.J.?

            (J.J. clenches his jaw and glares at RONNIE)

Sorry, J.J. Am I getting your goat?

            (The audience roars with laughter)

J.J. (eyebrows furrowing, changes the subject)

Brittney… can you get the chicken to say something for us?

ASHLEY (ignores that he was called by the wrong name and holding the chicken)

I think she is sleeping right now. I don’t want to disturb her.

J.J. (irritated)

Well, how about the cow? Is the cow going to say anything? Is she going to quote a little Shakespeare?

COW

Bluuuuue.

The audience gasps and then claps. J.J. looks to the audience, his eyes wide and his mouth open wide, more as a comedic effect rather than genuine surprise.

J.J.

Whoa! Whoa! Wowie-O! Did you hear that, ladies and gentlemen? More of Katie’s amazing talking animals after these messages!

The audience is clapping furiously and the lights dim. J.J.’S smile disappears quickly and he yanks open his drawer and pulls out a cigar, lights it and puffs out smoke immediately.

ASSISTANT

M- Mr. Styles?

J.J. (impatiently)

This better be important.

ASSISTANT

Your wife is in your dressing room.

J.J.

What did I just sa—

SOME GUY

… and Catherine.

J.J. pauses, holding the cigar in his hand for a second.

Shit.

Then he jumps up, pushing the ASSISTANT out of the way. He dashes away.

            The camera shoots back to ASHLEY and RONNIE, who are still seated.

ASHLEY

I’m very sorry about Ginny. She likes to climb.

RONNIE (petting the goat)

Oh, is that the goat’s name? Who’s the chicken?

ASHLEY (holding the chicken, who has now woken up, in his lap)

This is Josephina.

RONNIE

She’s so pretty, all those black and white feathers…

RONNIE looks at ASHLEY, her eyes bright and her expression warm.

Can I hold her?

ASHLEY lifts up the chicken and places her gently on RONNIE’S lap. She gently wraps one arm around the chicken and cautiously pets its back with her other hand. The chicken drifts off the sleep again.

RONNIE (whispers)

She’s so soft! Precious…

The camera shot lingers for a while, focusing on the chicken in RONNIE’S lap and RONNIE’S rhythmic petting.

END

Two key scenes

Opening – the lighthouse

The film opens with the Old Baldy lighthouse standing in the dark of a thunderstorm on Bald Head Island in North Carolina.  As the thunder rolls and lightning strikes, voices are heard yelling down the stairs of the lighthouse for “more oil” for the lamp.  The voices belong to the United States Coast Guard as they struggle to keep the lighthouse illuminated for the boats taking cargo from Charleston to Wilmington.  Seven men, mostly shirtless or in undershirts from the 1860’s are spread throughout the one hundred and eighteen foot lighthouse, staggered up the spiral stairs to the top.  The interior of the lighthouse is exposed brick with stucco, lit by torchlight and gas lamps.  The camera starts at the bottom of the lighthouse and follows a small barrel of oil up the staircase, being passed from man to man until it reaches the top.  Frantically running up stairs, the men’s masculinity is highlighted by the camera’s detailed zoom on their strong and sweaty arms.  Their uniforms belong to the United States Coast guard, denoting loyalty to neither North nor South, and at the top of the stairs, two younger looking men sit smoking cigars and laughing about how serious the other men are taking their duties.

It is clear through Will and Charlie’s dialogue with each other that they are friends and also drunk.  One man, Bets, the largest man on the staircase, approaches them swinging their legs over the railing and tells them to get back to work.  With a joking grin to one another, Will and Charlie put down their cigars and join the others at work.  The camera descends down the stairs as Will and Charlie’s laughter fills the lighthouse and they joke back and forth.  The camera goes through the door and back into the storm and zooms out up into the clouds.

Closing scene – Will’s confession to his son, Charlie

Will is older in age and having survived the war and started a family with Caroline, lives peacefully in the mountains of North Carolina.  The camera swings a wide shot coming down from the mountain to a small farm house in the valley that sits nestled in the sun.  Outside, children run around a tree and the camera focuses in on a man sitting on a porch with a woman.  With more detail available, it is clear that Will and Caroline are sitting together, discussing life and rocking back and forth.  Will looks especially dark and mysterious, Caroline not noticing.  Will calls for Charlie to come over and tells him exactly what happened years ago and why he needed to name his son after the friend he killed.  He explains, “I wanted to let Charlie live on, happy as ever, for a long full life I selfishly cheated him of.  You’re my son and I’m proud of you and your mama.  I want you to go on and have hundreds of babies and a long life ahead of you.  Promise me though, you’ll never take a life.”

Will stands, leaves Caroline and Charlie in confusion, and walks out into the now raining weather, heading deliberately toward the barn, Caroline calls after him, but he pretends not to hear.  Minutes later, Caroline and Charlie run towards the barn and throw open the door only to have the camera show their terrified faces as Will’s legs dangle from the rafters.  When mother and son return outside, the sky has become sunny again and they stumble towards the house, sobbing.  Credits roll.

Sonny

Plot

Sonny follows the day of a young Atlanta courier on August 17th, 1915- the day after Leo Frank was taken from his Milledgeville Prison bed in the night and lynched in Marietta, accused of murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan in 1913. Our eponymous hero is not made immediately aware of this. However, when a mysterious package is entrusted to him by his employer to be taken to Mrs. Frank, Sonny is unwittingly made a player in the aftermath of Frank’s death.

Before Sonny can deliver that package, though, we must follow his daily routine, as he delivers packages and letters. It is through his exchanges with his customers that Frank has been lynched. Though he was warned not to, he opens the mysterious package and discovers a note and a wedding band, along with the words, ‘The wedding ring of Leo Frank, taken from his hand on the Night of August the 16th, 1915 by the Knights of Mary Phagan’. Soon after, Sonny discovers that the Knights of Mary Phagan are very upset that their trophy has been taken from them, and will try to get it back through any means possible.

After dodging various trolleys and undesirable who have traced the ring to him, Sonny finally makes it to Mrs. Frank’s house on Washington Street, near the state capitol building. He is exhausted, but finally hands his mysterious package over.

Characters:

Sonny- Sonny is our main character, the audience’s eyes and ears through his day. He is 12 years old, tall for his age, black hair, medium complexion and skinny. His hollow eyes indicate hunger and that he’s seen more than a 12-year-old should have. His formal schooling ended the year before, when he took his job, but he knows how to read comprehensively, a skill that is rare for a low-income kid like him. On the whole, we don’t learn much about him, apart from the fact that he hates lynchings (his father took him to one once, and he had to leave because he was sobbing) and he will do his job, no matter what obstacles lay before him.

Mr. Robeson- Sonny’s boss. He is middle aged, mustachioed, gruff to many and kind to a precious few, including Sonny.

Though it is not explicitly said, it is implied that Mr. Robeson was either present at or immediately after Leo Frank’s death. It is not clear how he obtained the ring and hand-written note, although the KMP do track the ring to him. It is evident, however, that the lynching of Leo Frank so disgusted him that he went to great lengths for his dying wish to be honored.

(I don’t anticipate any other characters to feature as prominently or be as fleshed out as these two. Besides, this is pretty much a one-man show.)

Cinematography & Lighting

I have a vision of Atlanta as a town that looks new on the outside but is black on the inside: exteriors of white, clean sandstone on new buildings, and when we get to the less savory parts of town, grungy rotting structures. Much of the action takes place on the road, so we will be seeing a lot of the city, a lot of exterior shots. In terms of lens, I would like certain parts of the city to have an extra gritty feel, while during a possible dream-esque sequence (Sonny sees a pretty customer that he likes), I’d like to used the ‘smeared-on vaseline’ look.

In terms of lighting, my conception of Atlanta (at first) is suffused with sunlight. August days in Atlanta show no sign of letting up for fall, so it will still be very hot- everyone’s brow will be glistening, and it’s one of those cloudless, obnoxiously hot days. Most of the interiors will be darkened to cut down on the heat, but outside it is almost artificially light. As Sonny gets closer to his destination, however, the general lighting will become darker, to signify both the closing of the day and the plight of the bereaved widow.

Scenery, Sound & Costuming

This film, while taking artistic license with some of the events of the day, will be completely faithful to the pre-WWI look and feel of Atlanta, as a city struggling to magnify its name and break away from its past while still mired in the shadow of the Confederacy. I have wood in mind as an over-arching element of scenery- Sonny’s workplace, which is dark, warm, and full of moulding, or at the houses of Sonny’s customers. The wealthy ones will exhibit fine hardwood floors and elegant carving, while his poorer ones live in rotting wooden structures or crowded apartment buildings.

Costumes will feature a lot of white- whether the starched blouses and collars popular for the day, or the filthy undershirts of indigents, in addition to a palette of browns for wood, blue for the uniform of the couriers and blacks and grays, for the final scene at the Franks’ house.

In terms of sound, I would like the sounds of Atlanta to first take over the viewers’ senses- car horns, the screech of streetcars and Sonny’s bicycle’s breaks, the chatter of people on the trolley, etc. However, once we get closer to the ring’s final destination, I would like a moody, dark but minimal orchestral score to take over, to reflect Sonny’s anxiety as well as the audience. (For an idea of how this should sound, please refer to James Horner’s wonderful soundtrack for ‘A Beautiful Mind’, a sample of which you will find here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9srIGajVjDg)

Important Scenes

  1. The opening scene: Sonny enters Robeson’s office. He is still unaware of Leo Frank’s death. Robeson is about to give him the package before a desk clerk roars into his office. Robeson ushers the man into the hallway before he can ask about the lynching and they talk there, while Sonny only hears ominous snippets of conversation. The clerk asks (in a scene that only the audience can hear) about the events, and through a series of Robeson’s flashbacks it becomes evident that this particular lynching didn’t sit well with him. When Robeson returns, he gives the package to Sonny and tells him to keep it safe.
  2. A scene of exposition: Sonny has given back his courier’s bicycle and is now riding a crowded trolley in the general direction of his final package’s address. Of course, all anyone can talk about is the lynching, the ‘heroes’ who are rumored to have carried it out, and the spectacle of it. We hear several different people’s takes on it. Someone says they will bring their children to see him hanging if he hasn’t been cut down, which prompts one man to ask Sonny if he will go to see the body. Sonny clams up and says no. He doesn’t like hangings. For some reason, the man takes umbrage to that.

Budget and Justification

This film will put butts in seats because, quite frankly, everyone likes to see a) a true story (or at least ‘based on a’ true story) and b) an aspect of a tragic story spun in a positive way. This movie will jerk tears and give viewers meaningful thoughts to ponder. While the acting could go any way- and I’m not saying this is surefire Oscar material- the Academy has always loved movies with a theme of injustice (Sophie’s Choice, Gentleman’s Agreement).

INTRODUCTION

  • When I began the brain storming process, I only had a vague idea of where I wanted to go with my film.
    • I knew I wanted it to be something local, and something meaningful.
    • I decided on a drama. It will be a feature film with many different characters and story lines that intertwine
    • Will be a feature length film with a relatively large budget
    • Shot on-location

SETTING

  • Gainesville, Georgia – April 6, 1936
  • Gainesville is a small southern town. One where everyone knows everyone (or at least anybody who’s anybody as my grandmother would say). An hour south of the North Georgia Mountains, Gainesville places a lot of stock in their country club and Lake Lanier.
  • On this Monday morning, at 8:15, an F4 tornado touched down in Hall County. Simultaneously, another tornado touched down…
    • the two met, barely  missed church, destroyed downtown area
    • below is a picture of the monument that survived, and is still standing in the middle of the square downtown today

 

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The 1936 Gainesville tornado (part of a massive tornado outbreak across the Deep South that also heavily damaged Tupelo, Mississippi) is generally regarded as the fifth deadliest in U.S. history. Extensive recovery efforts involving many local, regional, state, and national resources eventually rebuilt Gainesville, culminating in the 1938 dedication of the new city hall and county courthouse by President Franklin Roosevelt.

*information found at http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/tornado/about/

PLOT and CHARACTERS

The story line is going to be modeled after movies such as Traffic and Crash. It will tell many stories at once – each of them individually gripping and personal. All characters will be somehow intertwined.

  • Tornado begins ripping apart residential areas as they make their way to meet and head downtown

A family gets separated

  • Mother, two boys, one girl
  • Girl is a school aged child who is at school when the tornado strikes
  • Father (Mr. Cooper) is always at work, not very involved, owns Coopers Pants Factory
  • Father barely survives, family is reunited

A professor at Brenau and a young college student are having an affair

  • Professor is mid thirties, married with children.
  • Young woman is African American, twenty years old
  • Both feel love for each other, but would never voice it.
  • Young woman is not disillusioned, she knows the realities and consciously chose to engage in affair
  • Professor is extremely handsome as well as intelligent. He is in no way predatory, but kind and nurturing. He thinks the world of this young woman.

Young college student’s brother works at Coopers pants factory

  • Cooper’s pants factory was hit by the tornado, then caught on fire
  • Somehow, brother and Mr. Cooper survive together
  • Brother is  factory worker

Professor’s wife

  • Works at the local elementary school
  • Ends up caring for and ensuring the survival of Mr. Cooper’s school age daughter

In the end, all come to Cooper’s Pants Factory in what used to be downtown Gainesville. Everyone looks around, recognizing what has happened. Some people’s stories are happy endings, some continue to be tragic. I’m not sure how it all will play out yet.

 

The destroyed Cooper Factory

  CAST OF CHARACTERS

  • Will be a mixture of A-listers and unknowns in order to bring in money and interest
  • Casting decisions have not yet been made

 

MUSIC

Instrumental music not necessarily of the period will be used for

  • Dramatic moments
  • Climax
  • Intense emotional scenes

 Popular music of the 1930’s will be used in

  • Scenes with a radio on
  • Scenes used to clearly depict the time period, like the opening

 

COSTUMING

Costumes will be very much of the period in every detail from hairstyles to jewelry.

 

                                                BEHIND THE SCENES – Things left to consider

  • Director
  • Camera styles/techniques
  • Editor
  • Producer
  • Music Producer
  • Costume Designer