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 – Teleplay/Short Series

“CONFESS”

Written by SCOTT A. MCCONNELL

Logline

A justice-loving priest, on probation for breaking the privacy of confession, learns during a confession of a female parishioner who his superior is sexually abusing.

Synopsis

Father Tim O'Hare joined the ministry to do justice. As a priest on probation for breaking the secrecy of the confessional, he has been sent to a new parish. Tim’s new superior and “guide” is Father Richard Lawrence, an imposing man with a ruddy, warm face that might hide a terrible secret. After a rehearsal for her wedding, Linda Alvarez, 18, requests a confession with Tim. Linda is a visual contradiction. Her face expresses a glowing sexual innocence, but her body is strangely over-covered. Linda confesses that Father Richard is sexually abusing her and begs Tim’s help. Although unsure of the truth of her accusation, Tim promises to help her.

As Tim sits in the confessional thinking of what to do, the door of the other box closes. Richard confesses “one small slip” with the predatory Linda, thus locking Tim into keeping his secret. Tim must now help Linda without breaking his confessional vows, for which he would be expelled from the church. Tim finds a way to use the confessional to trap Richard and save Linda.

Script Follows

FADE IN: INT. CONFESSION BOX - EVENING

We hear the strains of THE WEDDING MARCH, played somewhat somberly.

CLOSE-UP: The sliding panel between the two chambers in the confession box is slid open by a large hand.

We see the man behind the hand: Father RICHARD LAWRENCE, imposing build, middle-aged, with a ruddy face that exudes warmth.

                                                              CONFESSOR/(TIM OS)
                                      Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

Father Richard looks up in surprise.

                                                              RICHARD
                                      Timmy me lad, is that you then?

                                                              TIM
                                      Yes, Father Richard.

TIM O'HARE, early twenties, medium height and slim, is a very serious but now nervous young priest.

                                                              RICHARD
                                      What mischief is this? I knew you were a
                                      little wild, but your first night in the parish
                                      and already something to confess?

                                                              TIM
                                      No injustices, Father, just some doubts I
                                      need to confess.

Richard becomes serious. After looking caringly toward the young priest, Richard looks at a folder in his hand.

                                                              RICHARD
                                      Go ahead, lad. What doubts are these you're
                                      speakin' of?

Tim looks nervously at the portal.

                                                              TIM
                                     My future in the Church.

Richard looks sadly at him.

                                                              RICHARD
                                     Young Tim, let God's heart hear this from your
                                     own lips. I'll note beforehand, for the Bishop
                                     sending you to Saint Christophers, I'm thankful.

                                                              TIM
                                     At the seminary, I broke the confession's vow of
                                     secrecy.

Richard nods, pleased. He puts the folder aside, while Tim, conflicted about what he is about to say, needs to say it.

                                                              TIM (CONT'D)
                                     I know I was wrong, but hearing that man
                                     confess raping his step daughter--and that he'd
                                     do it again...

Richard looks away as he hears this.

                                                              RICHARD
                                     A terrible thing to experience, to be sure, but
                                     yer sacred oath to God?

                                                              TIM
                                    Yes, Father. I'll never again break my oath to
                                    God, but I joined the church to defend people,
                                    not to--

                                                              RICHARD
                                    I know where you're headed, young Tim, every
                                    priest's surely been there, but we'll be wanting
                                    you to stay on as a priest. Now pick up that Bible
                                    before you and swear that you'll never repeat this
                                    lapse again. Swear it to me, swear it to God.

Tim, more confident, slowly picks up the Bible.

                                                              TIM
                                    I swear before God never to reveal outside of
                                    confession anything I will ever hear during it.

                                                              RICHARD
                                    Amen, Tim. Well said. I pray that you come to
                                    love the church and its ways as I do. It's a great
                                    home in which to earn a fine name doing God's
                                    work. That's what warms these old Irish innards.
                                    Now, Timmy lad, let's talk more gently about your
                                    fine future in the church.

                                                              TIM
                                                 (positively)
                                    Yes, Father.

INT. CHURCH ALTAR/AISLEWAY - EVENING

A wedding rehearsal is taking place. A male church ASSISTANT steps onto the altar platform at the front of the church. Standing before him are a very much in-love young couple. Beautiful latina LINDA ALVAREZ, 18, is a visual contradiction. Her face expresses a glowing sexual innocence, but her body is strangely overdressed, covered from collar to toe in blouse and slacks. Especially hidden are her ample breasts.

Linda sweetly takes the hand of her fiancé, early twenties NICKY SUAREZ, a flirtatious, handsome boy with lively eyes only for his senorita.

As the Assistant searches through the prayer book, Nicky leans across to Linda.

                                                             NICKY
                                    My little sweetheart, in 24 hours no mas
                                    will you be a unhappy virgin.

Linda swats Nicky, who grins, but then she can't resist him and takes his hand, which melts into hers. As they nuzzle up:

Richard and Tim are walking from the confessional to the altar down the aisle along the far wall of the church. The folder under his arm, Richard is whispering to Tim, while his other hand is gently holding Tim's arm. They reach the altar.

The Assistant and Nicky stop their conversation and look to Richard. Linda looks toward the floor. Richard nods to the three and pauses his gaze on Linda, who folds her arms across her breasts.

Richard steps onto the altar, higher than the assistant, and looks down at the others.

                                                             RICHARD
                                    At last the wedding of our lovely Linda, but
                                    first I must introduce a new addition to our
                                    flock, and a new assistant shepherd here at
                                    Saint Christophers, Father Tim O'Hare. Aye, a
                                    good Irish name.

Tim smiles at Linda and Nicky. Linda stares back, her eyes very intent on his face. Richard sees this and proceeds quickly.

                                                             RICHARD (CONT'D)
                                    Linda darlin’, for this rehearsal I'll pretend I've
                                    never kissed the Blarney stone and give only
                                    a summary of what I'll be saying tomorrow on
                                    your blessed day. What a history we have, dear
                                    Linda. It warms me to remember that I've known
                                    you and your honorable family for all your pretty
                                    18 years...

Linda looks away, as if shy.

INT. CHURCH ALTAR - EVENING (LATER)

Richard is climaxing the rehearsal.

                                                             RICHARD
                                    Now, you may not kiss the bride.

Nicky mocks a pout while looking lovingly at Linda. Tim is touched by their love. Richard's face is impassive.

                                                             RICHARD
                                    And now tradition demands that the bride
                                    on her last night before her wedding day must
                                    take confession. Linda, be a good lass and lead
                                    me away.

Linda looks at Richard a little apprehensively.

                                                             NICKY
                                                (teasing)
                                    My Linda doesn't need to do confession. She's
                                    never sinned.

                                                             LINDA
                                    Oh no, Father Richard. Nicky still doesn't
                                    know his lines very well. Could you please
                                    work with him some more? Father Tim can
                                    hear my confession.

Tim is surprised, but flattered by the suggestion. Richard seems displeased. Linda takes Tim's arm and pulls him toward the confessional.

Nicky playfully steps toward Richard, inadvertently blocking his way to Linda.

                                                             NICKY
                                   When do I kiss the bride--and for how long?

Richard stops, anger flashing across his face as he stares at Linda.

EXT. CONFESSION BOX - EVENING

Tim gallantly opens a door of the confessional for Linda. They both, now very serious, enter their respective boxes.

INT. TIM'S CONFESSION BOX - EVENING

Playing with his sash, Tim looks at the closed portal before him.

INT. LINDA'S CONFESSION BOX - EVENING (INTERCUT)

Linda is sitting very tensely, staring at the portal. Tim slides it open.

                                                             LINDA
                                   Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned...

                                                             TIM
                                   Go ahead, Linda. All that is said here is
                                   solely between us and God.

Linda takes a deep breath.

                                                             LINDA
                                   I'm unworthy to marry a good man. I'm not pure.

                                                             TIM
                                   Why, Linda?

Linda is straining, but pushes herself.

                                                             LINDA
                                   I've... I had sex, some of it. Not everything, but
                                   some, dirty things.

Tim is surprised but his confidence is increasing.

                                                             TIM
                                   It might surprise you, but having sex sometimes
                                   shouldn't be thought of as a bad thing when
                                   done with someone you love, a man you're going
                                   to marry. Many good couples have gotten lost in
                                   their passion.

                                                             LINDA
                                   It's not that. It's not that.

                                                             TIM
                                   Oh, what is it?

                                                             LINDA
                                   I've betrayed Nicky. I cheated on him.

Linda is becoming more agitated.

                                                             TIM
                                   Go on, please.

                                                             LINDA
                                   You won't believe me. You'll condemn me,
                                   call me names before God.

                                                            TIM
                                   Linda, God already knows the truth, and I'm
                                   not here to condemn you, but to offer His
                                   absolution and greater love.

                                                            LINDA
                                   It was with Father Richard.

Tim lets his sash fall.

                                                            TIM
                                   Linda, in confession you're speaking directly
                                   to God. You must tell Him only the truth.

                                                            LINDA
                                   It's true. I can't fight him. I need your help.

Tim looks at the door, wanting to run away, but faces the portal.

                                                            TIM
                                   What happened?

                                                            LINDA
                                   I've known him all my life. Always with my
                                   family it's been "Father Richard this, Father
                                   Richard that. Obey Father Richard. He's a good
                                   man." Always.

                                                            TIM
                                   What did he do?

Linda squirms, as if reliving some nightmare.

                                                            TIM (CONT'D)
                                   I'm sorry, Linda, but I need to know.

                                                            LINDA
                                   He made me, he ordered me--as God's priest--
                                   to--to undress here, in the confessional and to
                                   touch my...

Linda trembles with great anger and shame.

                                                            LINDA (CONT'D)
                                   And then, during my penance. (beat) He showed
                                   himself and made me kneel before him--and
                                   do dirty, sick things. Please stop him.

Tim is horrified, believing her, doubting her, fearing her.

                                                           TIM
                                   Did he hit you?

                                                           LINDA
                                   No. He twisted me inside. He told me it wasn't
                                   a sin because he's a priest, that he speaks for
                                   God. He had my father bring me here, every
                                   Saturday, for six months now.

Tim struggles to control his shock and disgust.

                                                          TIM
                                   It's... I don't know what to say. It's...Who,
                                   someone must, who knows?

                                                          LINDA
                                   No one. He threatened that if I told anyone
                                   he would tell Papa that I was a slut with Nicky,
                                   and we should never marry. They would obey
                                   him, they revere him.

                                                          TIM
                                   There must have been someone?

                                                          LINDA
                                   No one would ever believe me against a priest.
                                   I tried to tell Mama. She slapped me.

                                                          TIM
                                   The police?

                                                          LINDA
                                   I don't want it to come out--ever. My parents’d
                                   shame me and throw me out. Nicky, it'd crush
                                   him. He loves it that I'm so "pure and innocent"--
                                   like him. I want to be a good wife to him. Please
                                   help us. The church allowed this. It has to stop it.

Tim grimaces.

                                                          LINDA
                                   Will you stop him, for me, and any others he's
                                   done this to?

Tim is horrified that there may be more.

                                                          TIM
                                   I have to think about it all. But I'll protect you.
                                   I will.

                                                          LINDA
                                   Thank you. Thank you. I'd almost given up
                                   hope, especially for my wedding. God has sent
                                   you to me.

The door to Linda's confessional CLICKS open and shut.

INT. CHURCH - NIGHT

The church is empty, except for Father Richard on the altar putting out candles.  Seeing Linda, he stops.  She sees him and rushes from the church.  Richard looks to the confessional and blows out the last candle.

INT. TIM'S CONFESSION BOX - NIGHT

Time is sitting with his head resting on his hands.  He is shaken from his thoughts by the CLICKs of the other confessional door opening and closing.

                                                                       MAN'S VOICE (OS)
                                           Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

Tim looks up, shocked.  He knows that voice.

INT. OTHER CONFESSIONAL BOX - NIGHT (INTERCUT)

We see Richard staring hard at the portal between the boxes.

                                                                       TIM
                                           What sins do you have to confess?

                                                                       RICHARD
                                           Remember, Father, anything heard during confession
                                           can never be repeated or questioned outside the
                                           confessional.

Richard's Irish accent is gone, and his face is hard and cunning.  Tim becomes more uncomfortable.

                                                                       TIM
                                           Go on.

                                                                       RICHARD
                                           I fell victim to a minor weakness of the flesh.  It
                                           happened once, that's all.

                                                                       TIM
                                          Only once?  Are you sure?

                                                                       RICHARD
                                          Of course I'm sure.  Why do you doubt me?

Tim fumbles with this.

                                                                       TIM
                                          Tell me what happened.

                                                                       RICHARD
                                                   (with genuine need and honesty)
                                          Absolve me--so God can forgive me.

                                                                       TIM
                                          Was Linda Alvarez the only one?

Richard flares, but then controls himself.  He checks the door, reassuring himself that all is private and leans closer, more charmingly, toward the portal.

                                                                       RICHARD
                                          Come on, Tim.  You're more experienced than that
                                          with the games of women.  I've been a priest for
                                          over 30 years and I've seen it all.  Be careful about
                                          believing Linda's or any woman's fantasies.

Tim leans back, controlling his self-doubt.

                                                                      TIM
                                          To be absolved, you have to make a full and open
                                          confession.

Richard's facade of Irish charm is now completely gone.

                                                                      RICHARD
                                         You're now her favorite; order her to stop spreading
                                         her lies.  Show her they'll only hurt the church and her
                                         family.  She'll do what a priest tells her, especially a
                                         handsome young buck like you.

Tim is threatened by Richard's pressure but pushes himself on.

                                                                     TIM
                                        Was it consensual?

                                                                     RICHARD
                                        She seduced me.  Absolve me, now.  Do you hear me?!

                                                                     TIM
                                        I can't.  I just can't.

(CONTINUED)