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
Screenplay Contest –
Teleplay/Short Series

“Picture Day”

Written by Jasmin B. Tekiner


A young girl with a severe cleft lip faces what for her is the worst day of the year: yearbook picture day.


Angela is much like every other twelve-year-old girl in her posh private school in New York City. She grew up in Manhattan, comes from a wealthy family, and is interested in much of the same things in which most girls her age are interested. There is, however, one crucial difference between her and her image-conscious classmates: Angela has a severe cleft lip. For a girl with an untreated cleft lip, there is no worse day of the year than yearbook picture day. Will Angela experience the same shame and humiliation as the previous years, or will she finally find a way to get through the day with her head held up high?



An expensive young girl’s bedroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The windows look out onto Central Park. Posters of Pop Idols line the pink walls.

An alarm clock starts up an UPBEAT ROCK TUNE that blares into the room.

The small body beneath a bed of pink sheets stirs. The sheets come down and a head of messy hair covers a GIRL’S face as she slumbers out of bed in Nick and Nora Breakfast Food pajamas.


A luxurious bathroom with high-end fixtures. The mirror reflects the top of the girls head bobbing to the music.


A hand reaches up and opens the mirror door. The back of her head comes up as the hand reaches for a bottle of face wash,  then ducks under again.

The faucet turns on.

SOUND OF SPLASHING.                                                                  

                    ANGELA’S MOM (O.S.)
Angela, honey. Don’t be late okay?          

I know!                                                

                     ANGELA’S MOM
I don’t want you missing it again         
like last year.                                       

I said, I know. I’m getting read             
                       (to herself)

Faucet turns off.

ANGELA, 12, closes the mirror door as she wipes down her face with a towel. She checks herself out in the mirror. A severe cleft lip runs from her lip all the way up to her cheek, giving her the appearance of one whose face had once been split in half and put back together unevenly.

She pats down her hair, smoothing it out only slightly, and heads out.


A tasteful and luxurious kitchen with a marble breakfast area. Angela, dressed in her schoolgirl’s uniform of a plaid pleated skirt, collared shirt, and blazer, eats a bowl of cereal at the table.

ANGELA’S MOM, 40’s, Upper East Manhattan Socialite-type, elegant and radiant, sorts through her designer purse at the counter. She looks like she’s had some serious facial work done.

A MAID, in uniform, cleans silverware by the sink.

It’s not till after lunch anyway.                

                    ANGELA’S MOM
You said it was in the morning last      
year. That’s why you missed it.               

What? Yeah... Well last year it was,       
this year it’s not.                                  

Angela’s Mom studies her daughter inquisitively. She scorns at her slightly.

                    ANGELA’S MOM
Sweetheart, couldn’t you have done     
something with your hair? It’s so-            

It’s fine.                                               

Angela pushes the cereal around in her bowl, no longer interested in eating.

                    ANGELA’S MOM
Just don’t break daddy’s heart okay?    
Grandmother and Grandfather were     
so disappointed last year when you      

Okay! I said I would, and I will. Just    
leave me alone okay?                            

Angela gets up and puts her backpack on.

                     ANGELA’S MOM
All right. There’s no reason to be          

Angela’s Mom, feeling suddenly guilty, makes an attempt at being playful and winks at her daughter.

Angela sighs, exasperated, and pushes open the front door.

                    ANGELA’S MOM
And sweetheart?                                  


                    ANGELA’S MOM
Don’t forget to smile...                            


A posh, private school hallway, semi-crowded. Angela, at her locker, takes some books out and closes the locker door.


AYAKO, 12, Japanese and slight, jumps out from behind the door. She speaks with a slight Japanese accent.

Oh, hey Ayako.                                    

You were scared.                                  

Yeah, cuz I really thought a killer        
was behind my locker.                           

You’re just good at hiding it but           
you were scared.                                  

A couple of ADOLESCENT BOYS,12, in their school uniforms with their ties loose and messy come at them across the hall.

                         BOY 1
                (cliche Chinese tune)
Dah dah dah dah dun dun, dun           
dun dang!

Boys laugh their way down the hall.


I hate them so much...                           

Yeah, but... You should be happy.            

Why should I be happy? That they        
tease me?                                            

Because... They’re not scared of you.       

Ayako looks down, suddenly ashamed. These words hit hard.

And because your hair’s so straight.         

Angela nudges Ayako playfully.

And you’re Asian, so you never have    
to deal with waxing or shaving...             

Ayako pushes her back, feigning annoyance.

And you’re naturally good at mat 
and sciences...                                     


And of course the violin...      


They shove each other in jest as they stumble down the hall.


Angela stands, holding a tray with a turkey sandwich, and searches the room. All around, perfect-looking and prematurely trendy kids chat and laugh at tables.

Angela heads to the garbage bin near the end of the room. She drops her Turkey Sandwich in her backpack and places the tray on top of others above the trash.


Angela, on the window sill, takes a bite out of her sandwich while peering out the window.

Two girls, 12, come in.

Angela throws the rest of the sandwich in the trash at lightning speed, hops off the sill, and starts washing her hands. She tries to subtly chew her mouthful of sandwich.

                           GIRL 1
Oh, hi Angela.                                      


                           GIRL 2
Hi, Angela.                                          


The girls go straight to the mirror.

Girl 1 brushes then flips her hair to one side.

                           GIRL 1
                         (to Girl 2)
This side?                                           

She flips it to the other side.

                           GIRL 1
Or this side?                                        

                           GIRL 2
Definitely that side.                              

                            GIRL 1

Girl 2 puts on lipstick in front of the mirror. She frowns at herself.

                           GIRL 2
Oh... I wish I didn’t have all those         
fries. I’m gonna be so bloated. My       
face already looks all pudgilicious.          

Angela finishes washing her hands and searches through her bag.

                           GIRL 1
You’re such a dunce, it doesn’t            
happen that fast.                                   

                           GIRL 2
Wanna bet? Last night I ate, like,          
6 chips and my mom told me my face   
looked like the Marshmallow Man.          

Girl 1 laughs.

Angela smiles at them as she pulls out a hair brush from her own bag and brushes through her hair.

                           GIRL 2
It’s not funny! I’m gonna have like       
the ugliest picture in the whole           
school. Everyone’s gonna look at it       
and be like-                                         

                           GIRL 1
Shut up!                                              

Girl 1 flashes Girl 2 a look of disdain.

Girl 2 looks confused, then immensely sorry.

                           GIRL 2
                        with difficulty)
I’m sorry, Angela.                                  

Angela keeps her eyes on herself in the mirror and her hands pushing the brush through her locks.

                 (trying to be casual)
It’s okay.                                             

The Girls suddenly stash their grooming appliances into their purses and head off.

                          GIRL 1
                       (to Angela)


                          GIRL 2
                        (to Angela)
See you later.                                       


The door closes behind the girls.

Angela flips her hair in front of the mirror. She flips to the other side. She throws the brush into her bag. The corners of her mouth begin to turn down and her chin quivers.

The bathroom door swings open and Ayako comes in.

I thought you’d be in here.                     

Where were you?!                                 

What? I told you, I have that makeup     
test at 1. I had to get my picture taken 
over lunch.

Well you could’ve told me this morning.  

I’m sorry. I thought you knew. I            
told you yesterday in Math, remember?    

Well maybe I couldn’t understand you.
Maybe if you’d pronounced words        

What did you say?                                

Forget it. I gotta go.                                

Angela rushes past her, on the verge of tears.


Students stand in a line that leads to the photographer’s station at the front of the room.

Angela, near the front of the line, holds her head down allowing her center-parted hair to cover much of her face.

BOY 1, several places behind Angela, imitates her by lifting his upper lip to one side of his mouth and lowering his lower lip to another.

Boy 2 giggles quietly.

Girl 1, nearby, flashes them a venomous look.

                            GIRL 1
                           (to Boys)

Angela turns towards the commotion. The Boys wear a stonefaced look and Girl 1 smiles politely.

The PHOTOGRAPHER, early 30’s, handsome and hip makes a quick adjustment on his camera.


Angela steps forward and takes a seat on the stool. All eyes are on her.

Okay now, gorgeous. Let’s move           
some of that hair out of the way.              

Angela doesn’t stir.

Come on, off your face. Let’s see           
whatcha got hiding under there.            

Angela stays still.


Photographer comes over to her and puts his hand towards her hair.

I got it, I got it.