Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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First-Place Winner, May – October 2003 Screenplay Contest – Full-Length Series

“THE AVIATOR”

Written by GEORGE M. FERRIS

Logline

Drama. Field of Dreams set in the early days of aviation. A barnstorming mail pilot faces his past and the perils of a trans-Pacific air race as he risks everything for the respect of a teenage boy.

Synopsis

In the 1920's, Clark McDonough, 16, is orphaned and sent to live with Ed and Sue Prouty, his mother's half-brother and his young wife, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The Prouty's live next to an airfield used by the fledgling air mail service. Clark's father was a pilot who went missing in action in WW I, and Clark is drawn to the airfield against the wishes of Ed Prouty.

Trying to finagle some flying lessons, Clark takes odds jobs at the airfield without telling the Prouty's. Even though he quickly learns that company policy prohibits any kind of flying lessons, Clark bonds with the colorful types who first flew the mail - and in particular with Keith Mackey, the most recent pilot to be hired. Big Al Touhey, the hard-drinking, whoring, card-cheating pilot who offends everybody, begins picking on Clark when the boy refuses to help him cheat at cards. When Clark inadvertently spills a bucket on paint on Touhey's brand new roadster, Touhey grabs him when no one is around and beats the crap out of him. When he finds out from the other pilots, it's Keith who steps forward to give Touhey some of his own medicine. Keith thrashes Touhey within an inch of his life in a marathon fistfight and sends him packing. Later, at the risk of losing his job, Keith wins Clark's friendship for life by giving him flying lessons on the sly. For Clark, soaring at dawn over the Pennsylvania farmland is the thrill of a lifetime.

When the airlines start up, the airfield closes down, and the pilots lose their jobs. Facing grim economic facts, Keith and Ernie the mechanic pool their savings and risk everything on an air race between Oakland, California and Honolulu. Everything in Clark wants to go to Oakland to be part of their ground crew, but Prouty refuses to let the boy go. Clark is heartbroken. Finally even an old stone like Edgar Prouty can't ignore Clark's pain - he surprises everyone and slips Clark a train ticket to Oakland.

In Oakland, reckless and unprepared pilots flock to the race with planes that are flimsy and just plain dangerous for a two-thousand-mile flight over water. Keith and Ernie are more careful, but just before the race, disaster strikes. Keith loses the good luck medallion he's never flown without. For Keith, this is the worst possible omen. He refuses to go. With the checkered flag waving and competitors' planes taxiing for take-off, Ernie does his best to persuade Keith to go on with the flight. Certain that if he flies, he dies, Keith turns Ernie down flat, and that's when Ernie levels the heavy artillery.

Ernie tells Keith that Clark has a photo of a woman he calls his mother. Ernie knows that Keith has a picture of the same woman on his dresser. "Clark is your son," Ernie tells him. "And if you ever want his respect, you better get on that airplane." Keith is silent. Ernie can't budge him. But just as the team is about to be disqualified from the race, Keith shows up on the flight line. As the airplane warms up for the flight, Keith takes Clark aside and reveals who he really is. Clark is shocked, then hurt and angry.

Keith explains to his son that he ran away to fly in World War I but never found the courage to return to the family he deserted. When he heard that Clark's mother had died, he knew Clark would be coming to stay with Edgar Prouty because Prouty was Clark's mother's only living relative. Keith took the flying job in Pennsylvania to be near Clark. As he explains, "If I couldn't be your father, I hoped I could be your friend."

Clark embraces Keith, and for thirty seconds they are father and son. Then the race takes over. Keith climbs aboard the plane and gives his son a confident wave. The plane takes off in the direction of the Hawaiian Islands. Clark maintains a vigil all night. The next morning Ernie comes forward and gives Clark the tragic news - Keith never arrived in Hawaii. Somewhere over the Pacific, his plane went down. Keith is never seen again.

With Keith's sacrifice, Clark learns the true meaning of courage and devotion. When he returns to Pennsylvania with Ernie, Clark tells Ernie that he intends to fly his first solo as a tribute to Keith. Just before Clark takes off on his solo flight, Ernie gives him Keith's missing good luck medallion - after Keith had taken off, the medallion turned up in the cuff of Ernie's pants, where it had fallen in the hectic moments before the race. Later, as he circles above the clouds and the good luck medallion around his neck glints in the sun, Clark realizes his future as an aviator has grown from roots in his father's past.

Script Follows

FADE IN:

EXT. OFFICE BUILDING WINDOWS – DAY

WINDOW WASHERS work on a scaffold, ignoring the sights.

Below is the rumble of traffic. Then comes a new noise -- an airplane, a full-throated twelve-cylinder baritone.

A shape appears reflected in the windows. It has struts, wires, and sandwiched wings. The  reflection glides across the windows and is gone. The window washers don’t see it.

A VINTAGE BIPLANE

RUMBLES across the cityscape, its fuselage streaked with exhaust.

A PILOT hunches in the rear cockpit. He banks the plane around a gleaming hospital.

EXT. HOSPITAL PARKING LOT

A Ford Explorer pulls into a parking place. DAWN WILCOX, 40, and her son PETER, 12, climb      out.

The plane ROARS overhead and catches Peter’s attention. He watches it circle at a distance.

                                                                DAWN
                                             Peter! C’mon!

                                                                PETER
                                             I'm coming!

INT. HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS

Dawn signs in with the RECEPTIONIST.

Peter mills around behind her. He’s nervous. Passing by is a parade of human misery --     PATIENTS in wheelchairs, in gurneys, WALK-IN’s IN PAIN, anxious VISITORS, SECURITY     GUARDS lounge nearby, joking, indifferent. It’s a scary place.

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR

A NURSE leads Dawn and Peter past a row of rooms.

                                                               NURSE
                                                     (to Peter)
                                             Ever been in a hospital before?

                                                                PETER
                                             Not like this.

                                                                DAWN
                                             He’s just a little nervous, that’s all.
                                                     (to Peter)
                                             Honey, today’s the day I have to make
                                             that presentation, so I can only stay a
                                             little bit, okay?

                                                                PETER
                                             You’re going?!

                                                                DAWN
                                             Peter, we talked about this -- it’s the
                                             Board of Directors...I'd change it if I
                                             could, but I can't...

                                                                PETER
                                             What about Dad?

                                                                DAWN
                                             He’s coming straight from the airport --
                                             soon as he gets in.

                                                                NURSE
                                             You’re going to be fine, young man. Here
                                             we are...

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM

An empty bed waits for Peter. A hanging curtain screens off the other bed. Dawn takes a quick glance around it, then takes the Nurse aside.

                                                               DAWN
                                                   (quietly)
                                             Can’t we put my son in with someone
                                             a little closer to his age?

                                                               NURSE
                                             We try to do that, Ma’am, but the East
                                             Wing is shut down.

                                                               DAWN
                                             What about switching somebody?

                                                               NURSE
                                             I’ll talk to my supervisor.

                                                               DAWN
                                             Thank you.

                                                               NURSE
                                                  (to Peter)
                                             You need to take off your clothes and
                                              put on this gown and slippers.  Stow
                                              your things in this locker here, all right?

                                                               PETER
                                              Yes, Ma’am.

                                                              NURSE
                                              The Doctor will be in soon.

The Nurse leaves.

                                                               DAWN
                                              Peter, you understand -- I have to go.

                                                               PETER
                                              I guess so.

                                                               DAWN
                                              They’re tonsils. Tonsils come out every
                                              day.

                                                               PETER
                                              Yeah, but they’re my tonsils.

She gives him a kiss.

                                                               DAWN
                                              It’ll all be over before you know it. I’ll
                                              be back soon -- I promise.

She slips out. Peter sits alone on the bed, forlorn.

                                                              PETER
                                                   (to himself)
                                              I wish my Dad was here...

Peter slips into his gown and slides onto the bed. This is not a good place for a twelve-year-old       to be. He chokes back some tears.

                                                              VOICE (O.S.)
                                              Still got my tonsils... Only things that work...

The tip of a cane lifts a little bit of the divider aside. Through the opening Peter can see CLARK McDONOUGH, 89 and frail with an IV in his arm.

                                                              CLARK
                                              Where are they?

                                                              PETER
                                              Who?

                                                              CLARK
                                              Your parents.

                                                              PETER
                                              Mom’s giving a presentation to the
                                              board of directors.  She couldn't get out
                                              of it...

                                                              CLARK
                                              In business, huh?

                                                              PETER
                                              I guess.

                                                              CLARK
                                              And your Dad?

                                                              PETER
                                              Flying in from New York. He’s got the
                                              Paris route this month, and they got
                                              snowed in at Kennedy...

                                                              CLARK
                                              Airline pilot?

                                                              PETER
                                              Yes, sir.

                                                              CLARK
                                              My son’s stationed in Okinawa... He’s on
                                              his way here now...Hope he makes it.

                                                              PETER
                                              Makes what?

A BEAT. Clark waits out a wave of pain.

                                                              CLARK
                                              My name is Clark McDonough... What’s
                                              yours?

                                                              PETER
                                              Peter Wilcox.

They can’t reach each other to shake so they wave.

                                                              CLARK
                                              Suppose I tell you I was a pilot myself.

                                                              PETER
                                              You were?!

                                                              CLARK
                                              Hell, I was flying before your Dad was born.
                                              And my dad flew before me...

                                                              PETER
                                              He did?

                                                              CLARK
                                              You betcha –

There is a ROAR as the biplane flashes past the window.

                                                              PETER
                                             Wow, that was close...

                                                              CLARK
                                             Somebody didn’t get the word about height
                                             restrictions...

                                                              PETER
                                             So because of him -- that’s how you got
                                             to be a pilot?

                                                              CLARK
                                             Maybe. Wanna hear?

                                                              PETER
                                             Heck, yeah!

                                                              CLARK
                                            Well, Mr. Wilcox, that could take some tellin’.
                                            You see, when I was just a little older you, I
                                            had to go through what no kid should...My
                                            mother died, and I hadn't even grown out of
                                            knickers...

                                                                                                                         DISSOLVE TO:

BEGIN FLASHBACK HERE

EXT. TRAIN – DAY

A train hustles along a flat stretch of track, smoke belching from the engine.

CLARK McDONOUGH, now 15, hangs halfway out one of the Pullman cars, face into the wind.       He wears a jacket with a black armband on one sleeve. His eyes glued on something --

A BIPLANE

paces the train and pulls gradually ahead of it.

                                                              OLD CLARK (V.O.)
                                              That was the spring of 1927, and I was sent
                                              to live with my mother's half-brother Edgar
                                              Prouty, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania...

EXT. MAIN STREET – DAY

An Essex motorcar cruises along a tree-lined street.

                                                             VOICE (V.O.)
                                              So I was sent to live with my mother’s half-
                                              brother Edgar Prouty, in Bellefonte,
                                              Pennsylvania...

EDGAR PROUTY, 48, drives. Next to him sits SUE PROUTY, 38, his prim-looking wife. Clark is
wedged in back with his luggage.

                                                             VOICE (V.O.) (CONT’D)
                                              He worked for the Excelsior Paint Company
                                              and grabbed Aunt Sue as his last chance to
                                              snag a mate...

EXT. PROUTY HOME

A frame house. Modest but proud. On the roof is a rooster weathervane.

The Essex pulls into the drive, and the handbrake CREAKS. Prouty loads a suitcase under each  arm.

                                                            PROUTY
                                              What have you got here, Clark? Cannon balls?

                                                            CLARK
                                              No, sir.

                                                            PROUTY
                                              The Good Lord has not seen fit to bless
                                              Susan and I with children, so if you
                                              want -- when you want...
                                                 (pauses awkwardly)
                                              I hope you’ll consider yourself a Prouty.
                                              There’s a place in town I can get to monogram
                                              your shirts cheap.

He staggers inside under the load. The screen door SLAMS behind him. Clark surveys the house uneasily. Sue surveys it with him.

                                                            SUE
                                              What Ed’s trying to say is -- he wants you
                                              to like him as much as he likes you...

Clark hoists a heavy suitcase out of the car.

                                                            SUE (CONT’D)
                                              Don’t hurt yourself!

                                                            CLARK
                                              I can do it.

                                                            SUE
                                              He promised your mother we’d look after
                                              you... And maybe we're new at it, but
                                              we’re sure gonna give it a try.

                                                            CLARK
                                              Yes, ma’am.

                                                            PROUTY (O.S.)
                                              Clark! Where are you?!

INT. ATTIC

Prouty climbs the last few steps. Clark brings up the rear. It is hot and dusty. Prouty dodges a light bulb hanging by a cord.

                                                            PROUTY
                                              There’s a little too much Fahrenheit in
                                              the daytime, but crack open the windows,
                                              and you get a nice breeze off the meadow...
                                                 (drops the bags with a THUMP)
                                              Isn’t this swell?

                                                            CLARK
                                              Yes, Uncle Edgar.

                                                            PROUTY
                                              Really? You think so? Good.
                                                 (rubs his hands together)
                                              Now we see about getting you some gainful
                                              summer employment...

He starts downstairs when a DEAFENING ROAR comes out of nowhere.

A BIPLANE

skirts the trees and flashes over the house, missing the weathervane by about a yard. The wash of the plane makes the rooster spin on its axis.

INT. ATTIC

Dust settles from the rafters. Prouty goes into a rage and throws open the window. Clark is at his shoulder.

THE PLANE

settles down below the trees and out of sight.

PROUTY

shakes his fist.

                                                            PROUTY
                                              You’re asking for it, Mister!
                                                 (to Sue, downstairs)
                                              Sue! Susan! They’re at it again!

                                                            SUE (O.S.)
                                              I told you! It’s that weathervane!

                                                            PROUTY
                                              And I told you! I’m not taking it down!

                                                            CLARK
                                              What’s wrong?

                                                            PROUTY
                                              It’s those Air Mail hooligans! Ever since
                                              they put in that flying field, I can't get any
                                              peace...
                                                 (moves away from the window)
                                              Clark, you’ll learn I’m a reasonable man. But
                                              I forbid you from every going near that flying
                                              field.

                                                            CLARK
                                              Ever?

                                                            PROUTY
                                              Until you’re fifty. Or forty-five at least.
                                                 (points a finger at him)
                                              And you better not be air-minded.

                                                            CLARK
                                              No, sir.

                                                            PROUTY
                                              Good. Lunch is in --
                                                 (looks at his watch)
                                              twenty-seven minutes from –
                                                 (a beat)
                                              right now! Welsh rarebit. Don’t be late.

Prouty goes downstairs.

Clark watches him go. He picks up the biggest suitcase and carries it awkwardly over to the bed.   He dumps it on the bare mattress. A cloud of dust rises.

Blinking, Clark flips the latches and opens it.

INSIDE THE SUITCASE

It’s packed solid with “Knights of the Air,” “Aces High,” and “Tales of von Richtofen’s Flying   Circus” -- wall-to-wall books about flying.

INT. SECOND FLOOR

Sue meets Prouty as he sets foot in the hallway.

                                                            SUE
                                              Does he like it?

                                                            PROUTY
                                              Of course he likes it! He thinks it’s dandy!

                                                            SUE
                                              All right, Ed, but don’t try so hard...

                                                                         PROUTY
                                                       Who’s trying?
                                                           (off her look)
                                                       All right...

                                                                                                                                  CUT TO:

INT. ATTIC – NIGHT

Clark lies in bed, wide awake.

The window opposite him has no blinds. A shaft of light blasts through the window, then goes out.   A few seconds pass, then it blasts through again, and so on.

Clark picks a picture frame off the bedside table. He scoots around in bed and looks at it by the   light of the airport beacon.

THE FRAME

shows a photograph of a YOUNG WOMAN holding a BABY as she rocks on a front porch.

AS BEFORE

Tears start to well up. Clark sets the photo back on the table, then lays his head on the pillow, and wipes his eyes.

                                                                                                                                  CUT TO:

EXT. FLYING FIELD – DAY

The airfield is a rutted pasture lined by a hangar and two large shacks, built of raw wood. Next to them is a tall gantry with a searchlight up top.

A motorcycle bounces down the dirt lane and onto the airfield. Keith Mackey wears a leather    jacket and calf-high flying boots. His face is dotted with road grit. Keith dismounts and leans the Indian motorcycle against the hangar.

ERNIE PARDO, 40 and heavy-set in greasy overalls, emerges from the hangar with a carburetor in his hands.

                                                            ERNIE
                                              Keith Mackey!

                                                            KEITH
                                              Hiya, Ernie!

They trade salutes, then gladhand each other. Good to see ya, Pal.

                                                            ERNIE
                                              I got the boss all warmed up for you...

                                                            KEITH
                                              That’s great!
                                                 (looks around)
                                              So -- this is Bellefonte...

                                                            ERNIE
                                              That’s what they call it.
                                                 (a beat)
                                              Keith, lemme put you a question.

                                                            KEITH
                                              Sure.

                                                            ERNIE
                                              What happened in Kansas City?

                                                            KEITH
                                              There was trouble, and it was time to
                                              hot-foot it outa there.

                                                            ERNIE
                                              I bet. You flying that hooch in from Canada
                                              again?

                                                            KEITH
                                              Ernie -- c’mon -- !

                                                            ERNIE
                                              I put myself on the line for you, friend.
                                              Better don’t try that here.

Keith says nothing. He swings a leg back over his motorcycle.

                                                           ERNIE (CONT’D)
                                              What about meeting the boss?

                                                           KEITH
                                              Gimme an hour. I got an errand to run.

                                                           ERNIE
                                              Oh -- and guess who’s here?

                                                           KEITH
                                              Who?

                                                           ERNIE
                                              Al Touhey. Your ol’ pal.

                                                           KEITH
                                               You’re shittin’ me.

                                                                                                                        (CONTINUED)