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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.

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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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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Storm Before the Calm

FYS Final Project Outline                                                                                                    November 20, 2009

 

  1. Overview
    1. Title – Storm Before the Calm
    2. The basic premise for this film will be the divide between United States Coast Guard members that remained loyal to the Union and the rebel factions that supported Southern secession.  Two friends, Will and Charlie, work in the Old Baldy lighthouse for the Coast Guard and share shifts keeping the light for the passing ships from the devastatingly dangerous Frying Pan Shoals off the coast of the island.  Charlie identifies with the rebel cause and Will remains loyal to the Union.  Their discrepancy creates a rift in their friendship.  One night, Charlie leads a group of rebels into the lighthouse to destroy the lens in order to wreck cargo ships scheduled to bring supplies to Union troops in South Carolina.  Will and Charlie fight on the spiral staircase that leads to the bottom of the lighthouse and Charlie falls to his death.  Will’s great remorse for killing his friend leaves him conflicted as he joins the Union Army to fight against other Southerners during the American Civil War.
    3. Significance – this film is important because it explores the complexity behind the motivation of soldiers to fight in the War Between the States.  Not every Southerner believed in the Southern cause and for that reason, they were alienated.  At the same time, many Southerners ended up fighting against their brothers or best friends as their allegiance belonged to the Union.  The anguish Will feels after he accidentally kills Charlie follows him as he tries to fight for the North causes him difficulty to perform his duties as a soldier and causing him to explore his acceptance of himself.
  2. Camera Details
    1. A sepia film filter with low contrast will serve to make the film appear grainy and antiqued.
    2. Camera angles will include wide action shots for fight scenes with close ups only on justified characters to show facial expression while fighting and less actual physical struggle.
    3. Documentary style monologues with close ups on the faces of the two main characters will be crucial in showing their differences.
  3. Characters
    1. Charlie – wild and rambunctious, flirty, stubbly beard, wiry frame, identifies with Southern cause and talks passionately about life, love, and war
    2. Will – more conservative than Charlie, more reserved, loves Caroline and names his son Charlie to deal with his grief. Identifies with the Union out of duty and feels as if he fails himself and his friend by taking up sides with the Union army after he murders Charlie
    3. Beatrix – a girl from the island whom Charlie maintains a passionate fling with, as seen rolling around in the barn, arguable morals and values, not seen later on
    4. Caroline – Will’s wife, able to look past his affiliation with the Union because she loves him, is plain and simple in beauty
    5. Bets, large brawny coast guard member, frequently disciplines Will and Charlie as they cause trouble in the lighthouse and around the island, especially with women
  4. Movie breakdown
    1. Opening scene – the lighthouse
    2. Will and Charlie in youth
      1. i.      Flashback to “current” Will and Charlie, fixing the lighthouse lens and talking about women
      2. ii.      Flash back to Will and Charlie as boys making flower chain necklaces for girls from their town
    3. Will and Charlie in town, at a bar with friends discussing the promise of war
    4. Will and Charlie at the lighthouse, being scolded by Bets, their boss, for not being serious enough.  Charlie doesn’t care but Will realizes he needs to focus on serving his country and less on being comfortable with his friend
    5. Party scene with Will and Charlie, Caroline and Beatrix.  Will and Caroline are settled on a wrap-around porch drinking lemonade and making small talk while Charlie and Beatrix are seen running into a barn and rolling passionately in the hay.  Will’s face is expressionless while Charlie passionately kisses Beatrix.
      1. i.      First documentary interview – Charlie speaks to the camera sitting on a barrel in the barn while Beatrix fixes her dress in the background out of focus.  Charlie talks about how gorgeous and wild Beatrix is but comes to the conclusion, “She’s pretty, and nice.  That’s all I really need, I guess.”
      2. ii.      Second documentary interview – Will speaks to the camera sitting on a chair in the dining room of Caroline’s house while she prepares tea out of focus in the background.  Will says, “She’s pretty, and nice.  That’s all I really need, I guess.”
      3. iii.      This kind of shot repeats throughout the film where Will and Charlie are in similar but different situations where they reach the same conclusion showing that they are friends with commonalities but foreshadowing to the differences that ultimately cause a rift between them down the line.
    6. Will and Charlie on duty in the lighthouse
    7. Charlie talking with rebel supporters in a dimly lit barn about the war
    8. Will and Charlie talking about the war sitting on the beach tossing rocks into the ocean, Charlie talks to will about a raid on the lighthouse and Will, caught up in his new sense of maturity rejects the idea and pushes Charlie away.
    9. Charlie by night in the barn with the rebels again – they passionately talk about secession in South Carolina and say that if SC can secede, they should be able to as well, even if it’s just one lighthouse.  The raid is planned.
    10. Second documentary interview
      1. i.      Will sitting on a sofa in his mother’s house while pictures of lighthouses hang in the background out of focus.  He speaks of his obligation to the Coast Guard and defending their property and comes to the conclusion, “Well it’s my duty, I reckon.”
      2. ii.      Charlie sitting on a bar stool with hotheads in the background and out of focus yelling about the North.  He speaks of his obligation to the South and defending its integrity as the North sets blockades in Charleston Harbor and rejects their independence and ability to trade with Britain and France.  He comes to the conclusion that he has to stage this raid in order to send a clear message to the North and states very confidently, “Well, it’s my duty, I reckon.”
    11. Raid scene, Will pushes Charlie to his death
    12. Charlie’s funeral, Will telling Charlie’s mother and father how sorry he was but not telling fully what happened that night in the lighthouse
    13. Will talking to the camera, expressing his disgust with himself, evaluating Charlie’s recklessness and his carefulness and how killing his best friend seemed more like something Charlie would do than he would.
    14. Will signing up for the Union
    15. Will fighting in various battles
    16. Will sitting in a hospital, dying
    17. Caroline finding Will in the hospital, they marry
    18. Will questioning why he’s been given such a blessed life when he is, in fact, a murderer who alienated his people for a Union that has never forgiven him
    19. Years later – Will and Caroline with their son, Charlie
    20. Closing scene – Will confesses to Charlie what he did
  5. Two key scenes
    1. Opening – the lighthouse
      1. i.      Setting:  Old Baldy Lighthouse, Bald Head Island, NC
      2. ii.      Digital dramatization of the actual storm around OBL
      3. iii.      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 the lightning strikes, voices are heard yelling down 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 118ft lighthouse, staggered up the spiral stairs to the top.  The interior of the lighthouse is exposed brick with stucco, lit by torchlight and some 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 and passing the heavy object to one another, the men’s masculinity is highlighted by the camera’s detailed zoom on their strong and sweaty arms.  Their uniforms are US Coast Guard uniforms, denoting loyalty to neither North nor South, and at the top of the stairs, two younger looking men, Will and Charlie, sit smoking cigars and laughing about how serious the men are taking their duties.  It is clear through Will and Charlie’s dialogue with each other that they are friends and they are 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 about the fun they’re having.  The camera goes through the door and into the storm, and zooms out up into the clouds.  The screen turns white with a glow that suggests an ethereal dream state and then we see a close up of Will and Charlie as children, playing in the grass.

 

  1. Closing scene – Will’s confession to his son, Charlie.
    1. i.      Will is older in age, late twenties, and having survived the war and started a family with Caroline, a girl from the island who he had met before the war broke out, 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 the 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 looking 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 and 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, you’ll never take a life.”  Will stands, leaves Caroline and Charlie wondering what exactly he was talking about, 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 walk towards the house, sobbing.  Credits.
  2. Estimated cost
    1. 17 million, at the least
    2. Due to the wide range of shots, elaborate period costuming, digital enhancement of storms, expensive shots especially in the lighthouse, I will need a flexible budget and a flexible production studio to work with
  3. Legacy
    1. “Storm Before the Calm” has the potential to invite dialogue between Southern and Northern supporters to investigate the motivations behind soldiers joining with either the Northern or Southern cause and eventually move toward reconciliation.

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Overview

Bobby Dunbar was a young boy living in Louisiana, who on August 23, 1912 went missing while on a fishing trip. His family was devastated and the town he lived in was up in arms. Then eight months later, a boy that was thought to be Bobby was found in Mississippi in the company of a man named William Cantwell Walters. The Dunbars were ecstatic, and identified the boy as their son and charged Cantwell with kidnapping. However, this story has another side; that of Julia Anderson who claimed that the young boy was actually her son Bruce. There was a long ordeal about the identity of the boy but eventually after a smear campaign against Anderson, the boy was given to the Dunbars. Anderson was treated horribly and the local media of the Dunbar’s town portrayed her as both illiterate and a prostitute with loose morals. Decades later, a descendent of Bobby Dunbar, Margaret Dunbar Cutright, would become enthralled with the legend of her grandfather and begin an investigation as to whether or not he actually was her ancestor. Eventually it would be dramatically determined that “Bobby” was indeed Julia Anderson’s son “Bruce,” and that Margaret’s family had been the ones who had committed the kidnapping of an innocent boy.

The plot of my film would follow the story of Margaret Dunbar Cutright. The film would show both Margaret’s search for truth about her family during present day and also have a subplot that would follow the disappearance and deceit that led to the kidnapping of the young boy set in 1912.

Characters-(From 1912)

Bobby Dunbar/Bruce Anderson

Lessie and Percy Dunbar, the parents who claimed the boy was their son Bobby

Julia Anderson- woman who claims the boy is not Bobby, but is in fact her son Bruce

William Cantwell Walters- the supposed kidnapper

(From Present Day)

Margaret Dunbar Cutright

Descendants of Julia Anderson, granddaughter of Walters’ Defense Attorney, and other various relatives of characters from the past.

*Actor Choices– Big name actors may be considered for some roles in order to draw audiences, however this film will most likely not have an all-star cast and unknown actors would be preferable.

Why Make This Film?

-Historical true story that is not an action movie, but still interesting and dramatic.

-Has an investigative nature.

-Southern Themes (e.i. close-knit communities seen in small southern towns, prejudices against women who are unmarried/have children out of wedlock as shown by the treatment of Julia Anderson).

Length/Production/Cost

The film would be feature length and approximately 2 hours in length.  Because authenticity is extremely important to the credibility of the film, it would be shot on location. The need to shoot on location, have period clothing, possible dialect coaches, and the choice to use multiple camera angles, causes the budget to be quite substantial.

Visual “Feel” of the Film

Examples of what the setting for the film should look and feel like for the portion of the film set during the early 1900s. An almost saturated feeling in some parts. Or with a dingy sort of style that was seen in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The photo below is how the opening scene when Bobby disappears might look like.

Key Scenes/Example of Dialogue

(1.) Margaret’s moment of realization, when she learns that the DNA testing which has been performed to find out whether “Bobby Dunbar” is actually her grandfather proves that he is actually Bruce, and that the life he lived was actually a lie.

(2.) Final Scene: The film will potentially end with a montage of different nostalgic events from the plot line of the past juxtaposed with some from the present, while the voice of the actor who plays William Cantwell Walters, the “kidnapper”, is heard reading a letter which he wrote to the father, Percy Dunbar.

Other Things to Be Considered For Final Proposal

Soundtrack/Music Selection and the Score

Cinematography/Camera Angles

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Quiet Town is a movie that deals with the intelligence of those that have their PhDs, those that have not completed High School, and of talking animals. Ashley Lynwood, the farmer of a simple, tiny town in South Carolina, is shocked to hear his farm animals speaking words from the English language. Though Ashley is the levelheaded mayor of the small town, the science student that comes to study the animals does not respect him. But this film will challenge on what basis we respect others and what true intelligence means.

Ashley Lynwood is the elderly mayor and farmer of the simple and small town of Uwasaw, South Carolina. In the years before the movie begins, Ashley has made key decisions in helping this small town survive financial problems. He is respected in the community and is kindly, inviting everyone in town into his home for Thanksgiving. I was inspired by the movie, Vernon, Florida, to have the men go turkey hunting before Thanksgiving. The hunter from Vernon was so passionate about hunting that he knew everything there was to know about the sport (or rather, the way of life, as he saw it). This defines the hunters’ own intelligence; their acute knowledge of the land and of the habits of turkeys that is equal to those of a passionate neuroscience, even if the two fields of study are different in how they are learned. A good candidate to play Ashley would be Garrison Keilor because he has a soothing voice and he is a likable person. Audiences will see Keilor in Ashley’s role and not immediately pass him off as an uneducated backwoods fool. He might also want to sing something, which is alright by me.  

Dara Lynwood is Ashley’s strong-willed wife. With him she has raised three sons, who have now all grown and left home for bigger things. She and Ashley joke together, such as at the end of the movie where Dara tells her husband that “the hens are laying eggs this morning.” Ashley replies, “Did they say anything?” to which Dara jokes, “Yes… they say you should get on repainting the house today.”

“Crazy” Dave is an Uwasaw man who has a mental disability. He keeps to himself mostly and hunts and eats animals on his property, which is littered with spare car parts. The media loves to focus on Dave as a stereotype of the Southern backwoods hick. Ashley tries to protect Dave by tarnishing his own reputation.

“Sam” Sitting Owl is the last Cherokee man in Uwasaw and the two cultures of Native American and white American fight inside him, an example being his native name “Sitting Owl” and his American name “Sam”. He feels that he should leave and find other Cherokees or to remain on the land his family has been on for generations. He works on Ashley’s farm.

Lewis is a young African American man who works on Ashley’s farm and lives with his wife and young daughter. Ashley treats him as the son who didn’t leave town, like Ashley’s own three sons did. Lewis’ father died when he was young and he sees Ashley as a father figure. In the end of the movie, Ashley promises to give the farm to Lewis when Ashley retires. The media tries to portray that this non-progressive southern town is racist like the rest of the south by skewing Lewis and Ashley’s relationship.

Little Jakes is the orange farm cat who has a conversation with Ashley late one night. Little Jakes’ scene is supposed to be shocking to the audience (and to Ashley, as he grips the door frame and nearly has a heart attack) because all the other animals have been speaking single words, whereas Little Jakes has a full on conversation with Ashley. The camera slowly zooms in on Little Jakes’ face as he is standing on the kitchen table and meowing. The camera shows a full shot of the cant’s face, showing his round eyes, meant to symbolize his perceptiveness. The farm cat talks to the farmer about the intelligence of the animals, and if speaking English really makes them smarter than other animals. Ashley asks Little Jakes if he will speak again, and Little Jakes replies, “Not like this. Never again.” This scene is also humorous, as Ashley thinks the conversation is over and Little Jakes surprises him, making him jump, by asking for a different kind of cat food. I want as little computer animation for this scene as possible; only Little Jake’s mouth should move to form the words of the conversation. He should still be doing cat things, like pawing at a crumb or licking himself. Absolutely no human expressions should be on his face, such as eyebrow movements or giving him a smile. These human expressions would take away from the fact that this is a cat, not a person. Little Jakes is seen throughout the movie, in the background or occasionally being patted on the head by various characters. In the final scene, Ashley is sitting on the porch and, seeing the cat, says, “Come here Little Jakes.” The cat does not move until Ashley makes a gesture and noise to beckon the cat over. This scene portrays the different styles of communication between people and animals.

The Science Student (unnamed as of now) stays with the Lynwoods while conducting research on the talking animals. At first he sees the Lynwoods as uneducated and treats them as children. Though he may be working on his Ph D at John Hopkins University we see that this does not mean he is more intelligent than Ashley. He may know more about neuroscience than the entire town, but he hasn’t learned to drive. Instead of poking fun at the student, Ashley teaches him to drive. The student gains respect for Ashley, as Ashley explains to him that he knows only what he needs to know. The student also feels betrayed by his University when he begins to surmise that they sent him to the small town because they didn’t believe the animals spoke and they just wanted to get rid of him for a while.

J.J. Styles is the egotistical host of the J.J. Talk Show! On camera he is joking and seems friendly. Off camera he becomes a completely different person, lighting a cigarette and angrily yelling at the cameramen and director. He makes jokes about a man (Ashley) having a girl’s name.

Veronica Summers is an actress who is also being interviewed along with Ashley. She and J.J. know each other from previous interviews and interactions, and she enjoys poking fun at him, while J.J. takes it personally. She is intent on keeping the interview on her, and often interrupts Ashley.

 

Plot: When the animals at the Uwasaw farm speak words in the English language, tourists, scientists, the media, and even the circus surrounds the tiny town. The media ridicules them, exposing and distorting their simple way of life to the entire country. At first, the publicity has brought in a large amount of money, which the town needs since it was heading for financial crisis. Ashley agrees to travel to Hollywood, with a cow, a chicken, and a goat in toe, to appear on the J.J. Talk Show to clear up the muddled story of his town and to earn some money for the town. However, Ashley has no time to talk as the egotistical host competes for the spotlight with his other guest, the attention-craving actress Veronica Summers. When Ashley returns to Uwasaw, he finds his town in trouble. The farm animals are stressed and won’t produce milk or eggs. More and more people flood the town, sneaking onto the Lynwood’s property to hear the animals talk. Radicals set the barn on fire in the middle of the night. Three different circuses offer large amounts of money to buy the talking animals. One night, Ashley, exhausted, is about to retire to bed when Little Jakes, the barn cat, has a conversation with him about true intelligence. After this conversation, both the student and Ashley find that the animals are no longer speaking English; they have returned to their regular noises. But the sightseers still think they can hear the animals speaking English; they are hearing only what they wish to hear. Ashley and the student devise a plan that exposes themselves of faking the animal’s speech with microphones and recordings. The majority of the people leave immediately, enraged that they have been duped, and for a week media dubs Uwasaw “the town that conned America”. But despite sacrificing the town’s reputation, the people of Uwasaw are relieved that things are starting to return back to normal.

The “Look” of Quiet Town

Quiet Town takes place in the 1950s, and I want the movie to feel like it was shot around that time. I liked the feel of the movie In the Heat of the Night and I want this movie to be shot as though it were made in the late 60s. Maybe we could find a camera from the 70s and shoot the movie that way instead of using the new technology to transform the film. We will need to use newer technology to computer animate the mouths of the animals when they speak (especially for the cat, Little Jakes) but I would like there to be as little high technology as possible. Costumes should be from the correct era of the 1950s: the women wear either a house-dress (a nice dress for Sunday Church) or jeans and a shirt when they work in the farm. The men of Uwasaw wear pants with suspenders and work shirts. The student wears a sports jacket or a sweater with his outfit, showing that he cares a bit more about appearances because he’s from the city. J.J. Styles is wearing a flashy suit, denoting that he wants to catch the audience’s eye and be the center of attention. Veronica Summers should be wearing a dress with a bright color, like red, that has a deep V-neck in the front, looking much like a Merlin Monroe dress. I would like the movie to be shot in South Carolina, or some other southern state in a remote location. The Hollywood scenes may not have to be shot in Hollywood; we could build a set for the J.J. Talk Show by using a studio in South Carolina.

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