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 2004 Screenplay Contest – Full-Length Series

                                                   
“RIDERS OF THE STRIKE” 

Written by Vaughan Risher & David Tish

 

LOGLINE

In order to get his brother out of hock, carefree rancher turned adventurer Wayne Maynard lets the creditors in on a secret… he’s discovered gold in California.

Their cross-country trek sets in motion the greatest treasure hunt the world has ever seen.

SYNOPSIS

Northern California , 1847:

Caught in a storm, WAYNE MAYNARD and his brother ALAN take shelter in a cave hidden deep in a forest behind the family ranch. If we were talking an ordinary cave, you could stop reading now, but this cave’s chock full of gold -- a regular caveman’s Fort Knox.

Alan has big dreams -- the kinds that take money, but Wayne’s satisfied living the easy life on SAM STURGES’ ranch. If word got out, anyone capable of taking pick to rock would show up for their piece of the pie. That means the law too… and that’s something their outlaw father, “BUCKSHOT” BILL MAYNARD can’t afford.

Keeping the gold a secret is the only choice.

But Alan’s tired of watching life pass him by. He sets off to make his fortune in New York City.

Six months later…

Alan’s in a jam -- owes fifteen grand to a dubious businessman and now life’s passing him by through the bars of a debtor’s prison. Now the bad news: Sturges is auctioning the ranch off in three months – the only way to keep his business afloat. Of course, this means the Maynards will lose their home.

No sense in keeping the gold a secret now. Wayne’s got a plan and two months later in New York City is where it takes place…

Wayne meets up with Alan’s creditors: ROLLY GREENE – a former outlaw turned swindler and ANNIE JONES – a lady of New York. Wayne’s proposition: forgive his brothers debt and he’ll take them to the gold.

LENNY LAROU, a shady NY businessman, overhears Wayne’s plan and sets out to beat him to the auction. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the race is on…

A race that attracts the attention of US Marshal CLAY TANNER. Clay’s a determined SOB who’s been hot on the trail of Buckshot Bill for twenty years…

Bets on who’ll make California first? How about what happens when Tanner shows up on Buckshot Bill’s doorstep? Ten to one it’s gonna be a helluva ride.

SCRIPT FOLLOWS

 

FADE IN:

EXT. DEEP IN THE CALIFORNIA WOODS - AFTERNOON

A boot CRUNCHES DOWN on a pine cone.

WAYNE MAYNARD bites his lip, holding his stallion's bridle fast. He’s 19 with boyish
good looks and an air of bravado.

O.S. A FAINT RUSTLE. Something large disturbs the trees forty years away.

Wayne grins, saddling up.

ELSEWHERE IN THE WOODS

Hooves TRAMPLE NOISILY through the underbrush.

ALAN MAYNARD, 20, rides an appaloosa. He holds a Sturges rifle in hand and wears a no-nonsense expression.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Wayne?

The forest is still.

Alan spurs his horse on, letting it navigate the maze of bristlecone pines for him.

DEEPER IN THE WOODS

WAYNE 'S POV: Following the RUSTLING TREES. Between the branches a giant brown blur TRUNDLES through.

Wayne coaxes his horse on, following carefully.

ROCKY OUTCROPPING

Alan comes to the edge. Fifty feet below, Wayne tracking something...

                                                                   ALAN (cont.)
                                             Wayne!

Wayne rides out of view behind a tree.

                                                                   ALAN (cont.)
                                             Here we God damn go again.

Alan takes a steep trail down from the outcropping.

THE WOODS

Wayne ZIGS and ZAGS, riding fast with minimal noise coming to...

A SMALL CLEARING

He TUGS at the reigns, bringing the horse to a sudden halt. A large grizzly picks at a bush thirty feet away.

Wayne urges his horse forward while remaining downwind of the bear. In his fist -- a sturdy lasso.

FROM BEHIND

Alan rides into the clearing in time to see...

Wayne WHIRLING his lasso, ten yards from the grizzly.

The bear swings its head around.

WAYNE 'S POV: His reflection stares back from the grizzly's cold black eyes.

He lets the lasso fly, sliding over the bear's neck.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Gotcha.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             You stupid son of a --

The grizzly ROARS.

The horse REARS UP as Wayne wraps his lasso around the saddle horn, using the animal's massive strength for leverage. The rope SINGS, STRETCHING TAUT.

Caught off guard, the bear CRASHES to the ground... but it's not staying down.

The grizzly rises on two legs, standing ten feet tall. It gives a mighty TUG, JERKING Wayne from the horse...

SNAP!

The lasso breaks as Wayne HITS THE GROUND, hard.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Shit!

Wayne scrambles to his feet, trying to outrun the bear.

CRACK!

Alan gets off a shot with his rifle. The bullet skims the bear's shoulder. Now it's mad!

Wayne grabs a tree trunk, climbing...

WAM!

The bear's head meets the trunk with EARTH SHATTERING IMPACT.

Bark FLAKES as the tree VIBRATES violently, knocking Wayne to the ground. The grizzly approaches...

Its massive jaws SNAP OPEN, letting out another DEVASTATING ROAR.

Wayne looks the bear in the eyes, ROARING back -- fearless.

CRACK!

Alan's rifle finds its target. Wayne scuttles back as the huge bear falls with a THUD, mortally wounded...

                                                                   WAYNE (cont.)
                                             Guess that works too.

Alan shakes his head.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             You ever gonna learn, Wayne?

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Yeah. Next time bring a stronger rope.

The bear shudders, letting out a guttural GROWL. There's still some life left in it.

Alan takes aim for the head...

                                                                   WAYNE (cont.)
                                             That's not really sporting.

                                            

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Get your horse, we're headin' out.

Alan pulls the trigger...

EXT. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDERNESS - SUNSET

SUPER: CALIFORNIA -- 1847

The tree-lined mountains of northern California give off an amber glow as they're silhouetted by the setting sun.

EXT. VALLEY - EVENING

Alan and Wayne ride from the forest, cantering across the lush green valley towards the family ranch.

BILL MAYNARD walks out from the barn. He's forty-five and looks well traveled. Bill wasn't always a rancher.

                                                                   BILL
                                             What kept you?

Alan gestures over towards Wayne's horse, a grizzly hide draped over its back.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Boy's lassoing grizzlies now. Don't
                                             know where he gets it.

Bill looks at Wayne, bloody, his clothes in tatters...

                                                                   BILL
                                             Just takes after his pa is all. You
                                             alright chief?

                                                                   WAYNE
                                                        (grins)
                                             Right as apple pie, sir.

                                                                   BILL
                                            Go on and get yourselves cleaned up.

Alan leads his horse to the barn, a bit ticked. Bill catches Wayne's shoulder as he goes to follow...

 

                                                                   BILL (cont.)
                                                         (quietly)
                                             And take it a little easier on your
                                             brother.

                                             Wayne smiles... maybe.

INT. MAYNARD RANCH HOUSE - NIGHT

A humble home, just the essentials. Wayne and Alan eat in silence until...

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             I appreciate what you did earlier, not
                                             sure I told you right.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Don't know how much longer I'll be
                                             around to do it. May have to start
                                             keepin' yourself out of trouble.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Been saying that since before...
                                             probably before you can even remember.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Been sayin' it for too long...
                                             Alan pushes his food around his plate.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             That's 'cause you wouldn't know what to
                                             do if you left. Got it too perfect
                                             right here.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Sittin' around, watching the days go
                                             by? I got better ways to spend my
                                             time.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             That's how pa thought. He went out to
                                             see the world and you know how well
                                             that took.

Alan clears away his plates.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Not his world I'm aimin' to see.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Yeah...
                                                         (grins)
                                             'Course aimin' doesn't seem to do you
                                             a lick of good.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             That so?

Alan's face lightens.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Took you three shots to put that
                                             grizzly down -- and one was from a foot
                                             away.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             All I can say is you're damn lucky I
                                             was there...

Wayne slaps Alan's shoulder, walking out.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             And that I packed the extra bullets.

                                                                   ALAN
                                                         (chuckles)
                                             That's it!

Alan leaps up, chasing Wayne into the kitchen.

EXT. VALLEY PLAIN - MORNING

Several miles of sparse, tree laden plains stretch out past the house and barn.

Wayne and Alan ride towards a hundred head of cattle.

The FLASH of cowhide and the RUMBLE of hooves reach a CRESCENDO as they herd the cattle across the plains.

Bill watches the proceedings beside SAMUEL STURGES. Sam's in his mid-fifties, a dapper gentlemen.

                                                                   SAMUEL
                                             If I was younger I'd be jealous...

                                                                   BILL
                                             Hell, I am jealous.

Sam chuckles.

                                                                   SAMUEL
                                             You got some time to stop by this
                                             afternoon?

                                                                   BILL
                                             What's on your mind?

                                                                   SAMUEL
                                             Just received the latest models from
                                             San Francisco -- could use an expert's
                                             opinion...

                                                                   BILL
                                             I'm not an expert in that anymore, Sam.

Sam nods.

                                                                   SAMUEL
                                             How 'bout as a favor then?

Bill watches as Wayne smoothly navigates the herd into a holding pen, SLAMMING the corral door shut.

OUTSIDE THE CORRAL

Alan shades his eyes as the dust cloud settles. All one hundred cattle now roam inside the pen.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Can't tell me you wouldn't miss this.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Won't know that 'til I'm gone.

Wayne rides up to Bill and Sam.

                                                                   BILL
                                             Sam invited me up for the afternoon.
                                                                   BILL (cont.)
                                             Think you boys can entertain
                                             yourselves?

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Yessir.

                                                                   BILL
                                                         (to Wayne)
                                             Just remember what I told you earlier,
                                             chief.

Wayne grins, digging in his spurs, setting the horse into a swift gallop.

                                                                   ALAN
                                                         (to Bill)
                                             I'll have 'im back by supper.

Alan tugs on the reigns, riding after Wayne.

                                                                   ALAN (cont.)
                                                         (shouting)
                                             You know where we're going?

                                                                    WAYNE
                                             We'll find out when we get there.

Bill watches his boys ride off across the open plains.

EXT. STURGES RANCH - PORCH - AFTERNOON

Offering a picturesque view of the outstretched valley and the surrounding forest.

BILL'S POV: Storm clouds gather in the distance.

Sam enters, carrying a shotgun wrapped in cloth.

                                                                   SAMUEL
                                             It's our latest model... got a feelin'
                                             this one's gonna be a hot seller.

                                             Double barrelled -- even breaks open to
                                             load in the breech.

Sam twists the stock, the gun's gold lettering glints in the afternoon light -- The Maynard Special.

                                                                   SAMUEL (cont.)
                                             Named after the man that made 'em
                                             famous.

Bill nods politely.

                                                                   SAMUEL (cont.)
                                             So shit Bill, you don't like it?

                                                                   BILL
                                             Figure I'll always be remembered for
                                             killin' people... wasn't lookin' to
                                             keep it up once I was dead.

                                                                   SAMUEL
                                             Say what you will, but every two-bit
                                             bank robber this side of the
                                             Mississipi's heard of Buckshot Bill.

Sam offers Bill the shotgun. It quickly finds a familiar fit in experienced hands.

                                                                   SAMUEL (cont.)
                                                         (smirks)
                                             Let's see Colt compete with that.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Wayne and Alan stare out over a steep hill. Rain pelts their hats and splashes the surrounding trees.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Sonuvabitch! We're lost, aren't we?

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Bet we're still in California.

Alan looks up... LIGHTNING STREAKS across the sky.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             I'm turning back.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             That gonna get us back to the ranch?

                                                                   ALAN
                                             It's the way we came.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Thought we were headin' the way we
                                             came.

Wayne chuckles.

                                                                   WAYNE (cont.)
                                             Shit, we are lost.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             It isn't funny.

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Last one to the bottom mucks out the
                                             stalls.

Wayne TEARS down the steep hill.

                                                                   ALAN
                                             Wayne!

Alan has no choice but to follow, taking the hill much slower.

The trail winds blindly through the trees...

WAYNE 'S POV: DUCKING and DODGING as tree branches WHIZ by his face. Up ahead through the branches...

A ROCKY OUTCROPPING

Wayne slows his horse's gait, dismounting. He TRUDGES through the mud to the outcropping.

BEHIND

Alan rides up, stopping beside Wayne's horse.

Shielding his eyes from the rain, Alan watches Wayne feel his way along the rock face.

                                                                   ALAN (cont.)
                                                         (yelling)
                                             What are you doing?

Wayne pulls away a mass of vines, uncovering...

A CAVE

                                                                   WAYNE
                                             Keepin' dry.

(CONTINUED)