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.
Contact Us Screenwriting Store

First-Place Winner, November 2006 – April 2007
Screenplay Contest – Teleplay/Short Series

“Burt’s Used Cars”

Written by Greg Rebman

LOGLINE

Buddy Nedermeyer is a used car salesman who has lost the will to sell. His world has nearly ground to a halt. When Lou, a smooth criminal, drives onto the lot, Buddy concocts a plan to reenter his own life.

SYNOPSIS

Buddy is a salesman at Burt's Used Cars. His days are spent observing patterns of oppressive order and inevitable decay. His depression has resulted in a drastic drop-off in sales and his wife divorcing him.

When Lou, a smooth-talking operator, drives onto the lot one morning, Buddy rightly concludes that he is a criminal of some sort. Buddy proposes that they steal $22,000 from the cash box at lunchtime, disguising Buddy's involvement.

Luster, another salesman, shows up unexpectedly and Lou locks him in a closet. Buddy reveals to Lou that he, Buddy, is actually Burt, the owner of the lot, and that he staged the "crime" in order to have a spontaneous experience.

The synthetic robbery careens out of control when Luster escapes from the closet and tries to gun Lou down. Buddy reacts in the moment by helping Lou to escape, while hiding his own involvement from Luster. Buddy experiences a euphoric sense of personal autonomy, and as he walks back to the car lot, he has several daydreams of a free and happy life.

SCRIPT FOLLOWS

FADE IN:

EXT. USED CAR LOT – MORNING

Used cars sit in long perfect rows and columns, ordered by make and model.

BUDDY NEDERMEYER, 40, an expressionless man who speaks in a slow monotone, is standing with arms hanging limply at his sides. He is wearing a sport coat and is staring straight ahead towards the front of the lot.

Behind Buddy is a small office at the back of the lot with a sign that says BURT’S USED CARS.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
It was a small outfit. Just three salesmen: Kyle,
Luster and myself.

Another salesman, KYLE GARROWAY, in his 50’s and also dressed in a sport coat, is near Buddy, to his side, with one foot on a car bumper, shining his shoe with a cloth.

           KYLE
It’s been a veritable bonanza here. Even Luster’s
making out. What seems to be your problem,
Buddy?

Buddy sighs.

Kyle starts to shine the other shoe and turns to watch Buddy over his shoulder.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
I used to pull my weight on the lot, but I’d never
cared much for it. It was just one of those things
you kind of fall into.

           KYLE
Have you even sold a car this month?

           BUDDY
I just can’t muster any enthusiasm.

           KYLE
How long you going to allow this to continue? You
need some kind of jump start. You’re thinking too much.

Kyle stops shining his shoes and turns to face Buddy.
He pockets the cloth, takes out a nail file, and begins filing his fingernails.

           BUDDY
Last week you said I need a mentor. Old as I am.

           KYLE
You need something.

Buddy nods disconsolately. He looks toward the front of the lot.

ALONG THE AVENUE

A heavy-set MAN IN A T-SHIRT and shorts is walking a dog on a leash.

Along the sidewalk is a row of telephone poles, evenly spaced. Across the street, trees are similarly spaced at equal intervals. Plastic mailbox pillars of a single design line the avenue.

           KYLE (V.O.)
Listen--

BUDDY AND KYLE

Buddy looks back at Kyle.

           KYLE
--I gotta deposit those cash closings today.
Where’s Luster?

           BUDDY
His landlord’s finally kicking him out. Luster
wouldn’t move his houseboat off property.

           KYLE
I told him that would happen. You just can’t park
a residential marine vessel at an apartment
complex.

           BUDDY
He’s putting a deposit on a place on Lake Ponka.
Said he’ll be in at two.

A WOMAN CUSTOMER, 30’s, enters the lot from the side and looks at a car near the back. She has dye-damaged red hair in a stiff helmet-like style, and wears gaudy sunglasses. She has a sour expression that appears habitual.

Kyle turns and looks at her. He pockets the nail file and shakes his head.

           KYLE
First customer sets the tone for the whole day.
Lady was here three times yesterday. Re-peat
offender.

Kyle walks away from Buddy and approaches the Customer.

Buddy watches a bright green Cadillac as it pulls into the front entrance.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
People came here when they tired of their current
rundown vehicle. And they left with someone
else’s trade-in. It was an endless circle.

LOU POLIMA, 40’s, wearing an expensive full-cut suit, gold watch, pinky ring, and an obvious comb-over, parks the Cadillac. Lou tucks a pistol into the glove compartment.

Buddy watches Lou but does not see the pistol.

INT. LOU’S CAR – MORNING

Lou, who speaks in a rapid staccato, is on a cell phone speaking hotly as he locks the glove compartment.

           LOU
You made your point. I’m switching cars right
now.

Lou folds the phone and opens his car door.

EXT. CAR LOT – MORNING

Lou gets out of his car and glares at Buddy looking at him.

Buddy looks away and waits.

Lou walks past several cars.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
They’d trade for something newer. But new or
used, it’s a downhill proposition all over again.
Dings and scratches accumulate. Stains collect in
the carpet and seats.

Lou stops in front of a brown Taurus. He looks at Buddy and crosses his arms.

Buddy sighs and walks towards Lou.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
Parts get replaced with increasing frequency. Until
its time for another car. As Kyle would say, we had
perpetual job security.

Buddy reaches Lou.

           BUDDY
Hello, I’m Buddy. Can I help you?

           LOU
Lou Polima.

Lou motions with his head to the Cadillac.

           LOU
Always been a Cadillist.

Lou laughs and pauses for Buddy, who smiles uncomfortably, and avoids eye contact.

           LOU
Looking to trade. Something more modest. Less,
you know, conspicuous.

           BUDDY
We carry a lot of American mid-priced. They’re
fairly plain, for the most part.

Lou looks at Buddy disapprovingly and laughs.

           LOU
You’re a real fireball there, Buddy. What kind of
salesmanship is that?

Buddy looks at the ground.

Lou begins to speak pompously. He runs a hand lightly over his hair.

           LOU
Let me give you a tip. You gotta enhance the facts
for people. It’s expected. That’s just good social
commerce.

Buddy smirks sarcastically. Lou blanches.

           LOU
It’s all about attitude. You’re either with people, or
you’re against them. Am I right?

Lou does not wait for an answer but walks toward the rear of the Taurus.

Buddy, with a quizzical expression, follows. He looks at the Cadillac and then at the Taurus. He looks back at the Cadillac suspiciously and then sees from this angle that it has a temporary tag.

EXT. CAR LOT – MORNING (FLASHBACK)

Lou briefly speaks on his phone, his lips moving silently. He slowly and carefully locks the glove compartment.

           LOU (V.O.)
What I’m saying is--

EXT. CAR LOT – MORNING (PRESENT)

Buddy turns to Lou.

           LOU
--it’s all a give and take.

Buddy watches Lou and twists his mouth in concentration.
Buddy’s eyes suddenly widen, his mouth opens and he inhales sharply. He looks towards the office, but quickly recomposes himself and looks down.

Lou stops sermonizing and watches Buddy.

Buddy looks up slowly at Lou and pauses.

           BUDDY
There’s $22,000 in the cash box, but I need an
outside accomplice.

Lou stares and Buddy then looks over at Kyle.

           BUDDY
Kyle goes to lunch at twelve. What do you say,
fifty-fifty?

Lou and Buddy study each other.

EXT. CAR LOT – FRONT OFFICE – MID-DAY

Buddy stands in the doorway of the office. He is squinting.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
Robbery. What was I doing? How would this solve
anything? I considered backing out and how Lou
might respond to that. But Kyle was right.

The sun is glaring off of car mirrors, windshields and bumpers. The lot is empty of people. The sun is beating down from directly overhead in a clear sky. Heat waves rise from the asphalt. Buddy is beginning to sweat.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
I had to do something. I felt drained all the time.
Day after day, I watched the sun fade the paint on
the inventory. Like photosynthesis in reverse.

EXT. - BEHIND THE OFFICE – MID-DAY

Lou is driving the Cadillac in the street behind the office. He sees the car lot, and realizing that he has overshot, stops and jams the car in reverse.

Lou backs up into the intersection, jams it back into drive and swerves onto the cross-street. He grabs the pistol from the glove compartment as he skids to a stop, just out of sight of the car lot.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
Marjorie, that’s my ex, had called me a man of
habit. Predictable, she said. Even keel to a fault.

EXT. CAR LOT – FRONT OFFICE - MID-DAY

Buddy is still standing in the office doorway. His eyes are narrow slits as he looks at the Sun. Buddy looks back at the cars, slumps his shoulders and his expression becomes pained. He blinks twice.

The sun glares off of the reflective parts of cars parked in even rows and columns. However, the colors are now bleached and distorted in a radiant color-reversal.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
These monotonous patterns. The colors being
slowly bleached away. Pattern leading to decay.
Decay to pattern.

A KNOCK on the door disrupts Buddy’s hallucination.

INT. CAR LOT OFFICE

Buddy walks through the office toward the rear door.
The office contains a desk, file cabinets and a closet with double doors.

           BUDDY (V.O.)
It’s a chicken and egg type paradox.

There are several windows looking onto the car lot. A wall clock reads 12:30. A double-barrel shotgun lies upright in a gun rack. A window A/C unit is BLOWING AIR loudly.

Buddy turns and opens the back door letting Lou in. Lou is sweating. He melodramatically hides from sight of the windows. Buddy closes the front door.

           BUDDY
All clear. Kyle’s at lunch. Luster won’t be on til
two.

Lou slides to each of the windows where he flattens against the wall and peers out from behind the drapes. He pauses at the intensely blowing A/C unit to cool, luxuriously.

           LOU
Wow. What about Burt?

           BUDDY
He’s never here.

           LOU
A passive figurehead, huh? I take it you don’t care
much for him.

           BUDDY
Not much, I guess.

Lou empties drawers onto the floor with a CLATTERING.

           LOU
Let’s give this the look of authenticity.

Buddy begins rifling through drawers. Lou sees a picture of a woman on Buddy’s desk.

           LOU
You married?

           BUDDY
She traded me in a good while back.

Buddy smiles.

Lou is pleased by Buddy’s good mood, and laughs.

Buddy opens a metal cash box in a bottom drawer. He takes out several large wads of cash including $50’s and $100’s. He begins moving with more energy. Buddy looks up and is startled by what he sees through the window.

EXT. OFFICE

LUSTER RILEY, late 20’s, approaches the office. He is wearing a small tight swimsuit, zippered half-high dress boots, an open sleeveless shirt with a nautical print,
and a Yosemite Sam mustache. He opens the door and enters.

INT. OFFICE

Luster enters the office. Buddy looks startled but the cash is no longer in sight. Lou moves quietly behind the door. He pulls the pistol out of the waist of his pants.

           LUSTER
Buddy, you seen my checkbook any--. Hoo,
Mama!

Lou puts the pistol at Luster’s back. He shoves Luster towards the closet, remaining unseen by him.

           LOU
Don’t turn around. Get in.

           LUSTER
Shitfire! We’re bein’ ravaged!

Luster shirt flaps as he stumbles past the A/C unit.

           BUDDY
Yeah, we’re being robbed, Luster.

Luster, freezing, holds his sides as Lou pushes him into the closet. The closet contains a black trench coat among other objects. Luster lifts one knee, ankle cocked, as Lou shuts the door.

           LUSTER
Dammit, man. It’s coldern a weasel.

Lou puts the pistol back into the waist of his pants. Lou finds some wire on the floor and wraps the closet knobs.

           LOU
(to BUDDY)
You. Outside.
 

Lou and Buddy move towards the back door. In view through the side window, but unseen by Lou and Buddy, the Woman Customer is approaching from across the lot.

EXT. OFFICE

The Customer walks towards the office. The office window reflects the car lot, but the vague shape of a man crosses the office towards the back door.

INT. OFFICE

As Lou and Buddy reach the back door, Lou sees Buddy’s picture on a plaque. He reads the plaque. It is a Business Registration stating: BURT’S USED CAR’S, BUDDY NEDERMEYER, OWNER.

Buddy approaches Lou. Buddy’s face is reflected on the left side of the glass over the plaque, opposite a similar photograph of him on the right side of the plaque.

           LOU
       (quietly, but intensely)
Jesus! Fuck me twice! You’re Burt?

At the sound of a RUMMAGING in the closet, Lou and Buddy look toward the closet. They see the Customer through the window, heading toward the office. They are startled and scurry to the back door.

CONTINUED