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.

First-Place Winner, November 2004 – April 2005 Screenplay Contest – Full-Length Series

                                                   
Dating Santa’s Daughter” 

Written by Laura E. Grabowski

 

LOGLINE

A twenty something computer game creator proposes to his girlfriend only to learn that she is Santa's daughter and that the future of Christmas depends on her marrying a man with magic.

SYNOPSIS

 

TYLER CLARK, 28, thinks he has everything going for him. He loves his job as a computer game creator, he has plenty of money, and he is dating FAITH, 24, the woman of his dreams.  In an effort to make his life even better, Tyler takes Faith to the place where they had their first date, a video arcade, and proposes marriage. He is shocked when Faith turns him down without any explanation.

Thus, he does what any man in his situation would do: he shows up at her door and plays Jingle Bells on the only instrument he can play, a recorder.

After laughing a great deal at Tyler’s limited musical abilities, Faith explains why she rejected Tyler’s proposal. She says that she is from Finland and that her parents expect her to marry someone who can take over the family business. Tyler suggests that he come with Faith to visit her parents and that together they tell her parents that he is the man she loves. Fearful of losing Tyler, Faith reluctantly agrees.

Under the pretense that they are going to Finland, Faith and Tyler travel to the North Pole. There, Tyler discovers the truth: Faith is SANTA’s daughter and Santa is losing his magic. He has become so weak that he can’t do Christmas this year. Therefore, the future of Christmas depends on Faith marrying a man with magic who can become the new Santa.

Mrs. Claus tells Faith that three potential suitors have been selected to compete for Faith’s hand in marriage. The situation seems hopeless for Tyler, a man without magic. Despite Mrs. Claus’s disapproval, Tyler convinces Santa to allow him to take part in the competition.

A series of trials, all designed by Mr. Claus himself, are given to each of the four men. For a while, Tyler is in the lead. However, complications ensue when Tyler is accused of poisoning Mr. Claus and causing him to become deathly ill.

Will Christmas be saved? Who will become the new Santa? And will Tyler be able to prove his innocence and marry the woman he loves?

The answers may not be as obvious as you think…

SCRIPT FOLLOWS

 

INT. SHERATON HOTEL - DAY

Many PEOPLE, in business attire, sit at round tables, eating a catered lunch.

 

A banner across the wall reads, “Attilex Games: The future is in his fingers,” and shows

a picture of a little boy’s hands on a video game controller.

WILBUR DAVIDSON, 42, short, burly, plump, stands behind a podium in the center

of the room. On a table beside him is an Attilex video game system.

He clears his throat, making a whale like noise that echoes through the room and causes

a few people to jump in surprise.

He takes out a stack of note cards and reads from them.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                             (reading every word)
                                                    Hello and welcome. Each year at the
                                                    Attilex Games company luncheon, the
                                                    president, and that would be...

He shuffles through the cards, searching for the next one.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                    Me... chooses one person to honor
                                                    with the Outstanding, Superior,
                                                    Excellent Creation Award, an award
                                                    I created myself in honor,
                                                    originally, I mean, of...

He turns to the next card.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                    Myself.

At a table in the audience, FAITH, 24, pretty, long hair, bright eyes, turns to her boyfriend, TYLER, 28, clean-cut, freckle faced, and whispers in his ear.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                    Is he always like this?

                                                                   TYLER
                                                    Nah...

He leans forward, as if letting her in on a big secret.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     This is one of his good days.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                    But, because I got out of the creation
                                                    side of games ten years ago, I can no
                                                    longer honor myself with the creation
                                                    award. At least...

Davidson looks thoughtful, as if considering a new idea.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                    I don’t think I can. Anyway, I have
                                                    already chosen someone else to honor
                                                    this year with the award.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                             (in Faith’s ear)
                                                    Larry Gallop.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                    Who?

Tyler points to a tall, lanky man wearing glasses and working at a lap top.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     And no. It is not Larry Gallop.

Everyone turns to stare at Larry who is totally oblivious.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     This year’s award goes to...

He turns to the next card.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     Little Red Riding Hood.

Everyone in the audience looks shocked and confused.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     Oh. No.

Davidson laughs.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     My daughter’s study cards got mixed in.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     It actually goes to... Tyler Clark.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                                 (to Faith)
                                                     Did he really say my name?

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     Yes, you heard me right. Tyler is the
                                                     man. Get up here, Tyler.

Tyler rises and walks to the center of the room. Davidson hands him a large, golden, phallic shaped award.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     Congratulations, Tyler. And in honor of...

He turns to the next note card.

 

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     Tyler. I am going to have my son,
                                                     Bruno here.

He motions to BRUNO, small, adorable child in the audience.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     Demonstrate Tyler’s latest game.

A huge screen comes down from the ceiling. Bruno walks to the center of the room,

picks up the controller attached to the game system.

Santa appears on the screen. He jumps into a reindeer drawn sleigh full of machine

guns and flies into the air. He sweeps through the sky, bombing houses with tiny, pinecone shaped grenades, and shooting people on the ground below.

Faith looks at Tyler, an expression of despair on her face.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     That’s enough, Bruno.

Bruno keeps playing.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                                     (louder)
                                                     I said enough, Bruno.

Bruno glares at his father, then pauses the game.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     And that, everyone, is Clark’s newest
                                                     game, Sleighing Santa and his Reingear.
                                                     Any...

Davidson turns to the next note card.

                                                                   DAVIDSON
                                                     Questions?

EXT. TYLER’S JEEP - DAY

Tyler drives his green jeep through a busy street in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

INT. TYLER’S JEEP - DAY

Tyler stops at a red light at an intersection. He glances over at Faith, who sits beside

him, her body as far away from him as possible. She looks out the window, her eyes follow a flock of birds.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Tell me already. I can’t stand this silence.

No response. A minute later, she speaks.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     Why Santa?

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Huh?

The light turns green. He starts driving again.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     Why’d you have to exploit Santa?

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     I didn’t exploit anything. I just had
                                                     fun with an old, archaic idea.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     Santa isn’t old and archaic.

Tyler smiles mischievously at Faith.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                    Have you ever seen a young Santa?

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     You know that’s not what I mean.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Come on, Faith, this game’s gonna
                                                     provide a lot of money for us.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     Us? What us? You’re talking like
                                                    we’re married or something.

Tyler turns into a shopping center parking lot. He parks.

EXT. TYSON’S CORNER MALL - DAY

Faith looks out the window and sees a Tiffany’s sign.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     You can’t buy me, Tyler.

                                                                   TYLER

                                                    I know that. If I could, I wouldn’t
                                                     want you.

He takes a blindfold out of his pocket.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Do you trust me?

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     You are not putting that on me.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Would you be willing to do it
                                                    yourself?

Faith just stares at him.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Please, Faith. I have a surprise
                                                     for you inside. Trust me, you’ll
                                                     love it.

Faith takes the blindfold out of his hands and puts it on.

INT. TYSON’S CORNER MALL – DAY

 

Tyler leads Faith, blind folded, through the chaotic mall. They pass a large Christmas

tree where CHILDREN push and shove one another as they wait to see SANTA, a space ship run by an ELF which advertises that “For only three dollars you can beam a letter to Santa,” and a sleigh where kids can pay “only $2.00 to take a once-in-a-lifetime ride.”

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     You’re lucky you can’t see this.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     What?

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     A living testimony to the true
                                                     meaning of Christmas. A carnival of
                                                     Christmas commercialism.

He leads Faith through a crowd in the mall.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     I hate it when you start talking
                                                     like that. Especially when you’re
                                                     not seeing clearly.

He turns and looks at Faith, who is still blindfolded.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     I’m not seeing clearly?

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     Yes. You’re missing the joy, the
                                                     generosity and love that Christmas
                                                    brings. You’re missing the -

                                                                   WOMAN
                                                     Get out of my way, lady!

A large woman throws Faith off balance, as she pushes past her, running through the crowd to the nearby toy shop which has a large sale sign in the window.

Faith, fraught with anxiety, takes her blindfold off.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     What? Was I in her way?

Tyler shakes his head.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     She probably just had too much of
                                                     that love you were talking about.

He puts her blindfold back on and continues leading her through the mall.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     She was an exception. There are
                                                     always exceptions.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                           (almost inaudibly)
                                                     Not at Christmas, there aren’t.

INT. ARCADE - DAY

Faith and Tyler enter an arcade. KIDS play video games.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     I hope we’re not where I think we are.

Tyler leads Faith into a game booth called Dragons of Doom.

INT. DRAGONS OF DOOM GAME BOOTH - DAY

They enter the booth. It has a large screen with a computer keyboard attached to it.

Tyler helps Faith sit down.

Tyler takes her blindfold off, then picks up the keyboard.

Faith looks around, then puts the blindfold back on.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     What are you doing?

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     We are where I thought we were.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Oh, come on, Faith, this place has
                                                     a special meaning for us.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     Special meaning for you, you mean.
                                                     Your first game was tested here.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     I was referring to our first date.
                                                     Remember, this was the first game
                                                     we played.

He takes Faith’s blindfold off again.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     I remember. Can we go home now?

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     After we play one game.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     You’re not serious.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Please?

He takes her hand and looks pleadingly into her eyes.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                               (with a sigh)
                                                     Fine.

Tyler puts a quarter in the machine. Then he picks up the keyboard and types in a

special code.

Faith watches him, suspiciously.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     You’re not giving yourself special
                                                     powers again, are you?

Tyler doesn’t answer. He watches the screen anxiously.

A man in a tuxedo, resembling Tyler runs across the screen, chasing after a beautiful woman, resembling Faith, in a long white dress. He catches her and hands her a rose.

Tyler kneels down next to Faith, which is a difficult thing to do in the small booth.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     What are you doing?

Tyler takes an engagement ring box out of his pocket.

Faith gasps.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     This might not be the way you
                                                     always pictured it. But we had our
                                                     first kiss here, our first meal
                                                     here, even our first...

He smiles knowingly and raises his eyebrows. Faith blushes.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     And we always did talk about me
                                                     proposing here.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     But that was just a joke.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                           (in a serious tone)
                                                     Not anymore.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     Can we talk about this some place quieter?

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     Sure.

They climb out of the booth.

INT. FOOD COURT - DAY

Faith leads Tyler to a bench. They sit. Faith twirls her hair nervously as she speaks.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     It’s only been six months. And I’m
                                                     still in grad school.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     When you know, you know.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                     But there are things you don’t know.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                     So? If everyone knew it all right
                                                     away no one would get married. The
                                                     human race would die off and -

Faith gives him a look.

                                                                   TYLER
                                                    What I mean to say is I love you.
                                                    Please, marry me.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                    I want to marry you, I do. It’s just...

                                                                   TYLER
                                                    Please say yes.

Faith looks away from Tyler. Her eyes fill with tears.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                    I can’t.

She gets up from the bench and runs off.

EXT. GEORGETOWN CAMPUS - DAY

Faith, backpack over her shoulder, walks through the campus. She looks like a ghost: her face is pale, she has circles under her eyes, and a frown on her face.

Her cell phone rings. She takes it out and answers it.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                                 (excitedly)
                                                    Hello?

INT. CLAUS KITCHEN - DAY

MRS. CHRISTINE CLAUS, late fifties, attractive, bouffant hair style, stands in the neo-classical style kitchen. She wears a red apron over her sleek red and green dress. She uses her shoulder to support the phone while she spreads chocolate chip cookie dough on baking sheets.

                                                                   MRS. CLAUS
                                                    Hi, sweetie.

INTERCUT BETWEEN SCENES

                                                                   FAITH
                                                    Oh, it’s you.

                                                                   MRS. CLAUS
                                                    Yes, it’s only the woman who gave
                                                    birth to you.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                    How are you, Mom?

                                                                   MRS. CLAUS
                                                    Busy. I’m baking the old fashioned
                                                    way today.

                                                                   FAITH
                                                    And Dad? How’s Dad?

                                                                   MRS. CLAUS
                                                    That’s actually why I’m calling...

Mrs. Claus walks over to the fireplace and looks up it.

(CONTINUED)