Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
Contact Us Screenwriting Store

First-Place Winner, November 2010 - April 2011
Screenplay Contest - Teleplay/Short Series

"Canvas"

Written by Jason Bickings

Jason Bickings

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Bickings was born in Richmond, Virginia. He now resides in Los Angeles where he has numerous years of acting training.


His short screenplay, CANVAS, in addition to winning first place short at TWP, also won the short category at the 2011 George Lindsey Film Festival. He is currently writing his first feature screenplay.

Additional Writer Information:
jbickings@gmail.com

LOGLINE

A struggling artist visits his dying father to reconnect with the turbulence of his past to find the passion he lost long ago.

SYNOPSIS 

Alex dreams of becoming a successful artist. His paintings are trademarks of skill and technique yet still he knows they lack one crucial element that he can’t quite realize.

Late one night he receives a phone call from a man he hasn’t spoken to in six years, his father who he learns is dying.

He returns home entering a past he vowed never to return. In a place he expected to find anything but passion, the missing element was obtained, passion.

Canvas is not only a story about an artist’s struggle for success but a story of everyone’s quest for passion for without it our pursuit of happiness would be unobtainable.

LEGAL NOTICE

The Canvas screenplay, copyright, and story idea below are owned by Jason Bickings. No copying of any of the below pages is allowed unless approved by owner.

SCRIPT FOLLOWS

INT. ART STORE – DAY

ALEX, 20s, studies an aisle of CANVASES.

There are canvases of all colors and sizes.

Small and large canvases.

White and beige canvases.

Blue and red canvases.

Alex examines each from a distance.

He grabs the chosen one.

INT. ALEX APARTMENT - DAY

Alex paints meticulously in a small studio apartment.

An unmade AIR BED is pressed against the wall.

A dying PLANT sits on a lonely table.

Unopened MAIL is stacked on the kitchen table.

A kitchen TRASH CAN overflows.

Alex maneuvers his BRUSH like a surgeon's scalpel.

Mixing colors.

Using a PAINT SCRAPER.

The painting becomes a very well done cliché flowers, fruit, and vase. It is pretty.

He steps back and examines his work.

He lunges for the painting grabs it and throws it knocking down the easel.

                     ALEX
Fuck! Fuck! Fucccccck!

Stomping the canvas.

Kicking the canvas.

The sound of CRACKING wood.

The PHONE RINGS.

And RINGS...

And RINGS...

And RINGS...

Alex stands despondent.

                     ALEX
Fuck

INT. COFFEE HOUSE - NIGHT

At a coffee house Alex sits with TOM, 20s.

                     ALEX
I'm not connected. Everything I
paint is shit.

                     TOM
I have a piece of yours hanging on
my wall. Its not shit.

                     ALEX
Its shit. I know shit when I see
it.

                     TOM
O, and I don't know shit?

                     ALEX
You said it.

                     TOM
Very funny smart ass. Ok,
seriously I can't paint. I've
tried. That's why I'm the actor
you're the painter. Do you know
how many people would love to have
the technique and skill to paint
the "shit" you do?

                     ALEX
That's just it. Yeah my work is
full of technique. Full of skill.
But its missing something. I don't
know what but its missing it. And
without it you have a big steaming
pile of shit hanging on your wall.

                     TOM
He call again?

                     ALEX
Yeah

                     TOM
You talk to him this time?

                     ALEX
Nope

                     TOM
You gonna?

                     ALEX
I dunno.

                     TOM
You know he's....

                     ALEX
Lay off. He's been saying the same
thing for years. Ok? I know its
just- Not now.

                     TOM
When? Its been six years.

                     ALEX
Lay off. I've had a shitty day.

                     TOM
We're obsessed with shit, aren't
we?

They share a laugh.

                     ALEX
Ok, you're right. I'll answer next
time.

                     TOM
Good. I think it will help, ya
know?

                     ALEX
I'm just scared.

                     TOM
Shitless?

                     ALEX
Yeah.

INT. ALEX APARTMENT - NIGHT

Alex's apartment is trashed from his previous outrage. Remnants of broken canvas, paint brushes, scrapers, and other such tools litter the apartment.

Alex picks up the broken pieces of canvas board and stands up the easel.

He picks up the tools and puts them in their respective places.

He continues to tidy up when the phone RINGS.

He freezes. The phone RINGS.

And RINGS.

And RINGS.

Alex walks over to the phone and places his hand on the receiver as the phone RINGS...

And RINGS....

                     ALEX
Hello Dad
      (pause while he listens)
Yeah its been a long time
      (pause while he listens)
Six years. But ya know, I've
called. Or I used to.
      (pause while he listens)
No. I can't visit. I'm really
busy.
      (pause while he listens)
No I can't. My art is really doing
well out here, ya know? Its just
not the right time.
      (pause while he listens)
What?
      (pause while he listens)
When?
      (pause while he listens)
Yeah. I'll come.
      (pause while he listens)
I gotta go.

Alex hangs up the phone.

INT. ART STORE – NIGHT

Alex studies the Canvas aisle.

                     ART STORE EMPLOYEE (os)
     (intercom)
Attention customers the store will
be closing in ten minutes. Please
bring your purchases to the front.
Thank you.

Alex grabs a canvas.

INT. ALEX APARTMENT - NIGHT

Alex paints frantically. His strokes are motivated by anger.

A KNOCK at the door.

Alex answers the door. It is Tom.

                     ALEX
I'm not going.

Alex walks away leaving the door open returning to the canvas. Tom enters shutting the door behind him.

                     TOM
You have to Alex. Its been six
years. He's dying. You'll regret
it.

                     ALEX
No I don't. And no I won't. And
you want to know why? Because he's
not dying any faster than usual.
This is just another one of his
stunts to get me on that plane.
Well fuck that. I'm not falling
for it.

                     TOM
What if you're wrong?

                     ALEX
I'll send flowers.

                     TOM
That's cold.

                     ALEX
He should be used to the
temperature. The apple doesn't
fall far from the tree.

                     TOM
Just think about it. Please.

                     ALEX
Do you want to know what I've been
thinking about? I've been trying
to think of one good moment with
my father. I can't. I can't
remember Dad ever tucking me in at
night but I do remember him
beating the shit out my mother
every night for years. I don't
remember Dad ever showing up for a
single birthday party but I do
remember him lying about spending
my college tuition away in booze
and gambling. I don't remember him
showing up to my graduation but I
remember him disappearing for
weeks at time without even a phone
call. That's what I remember. Fuck
that plane.

                     TOM
I'm sorry. I didn't know. I always
thought something was wrong
between you two but..guess I
Shoulda asked.

                     ALEX
Your Dad ever hit your mom?

                     TOM
No. Never.

                     ALEX
Sorry. I just kinda thought that
was the norm. What moment do you
remember the most with your Dad?

                     TOM
He had a thing for old movies.
We'd watch them together and at
the end we'd each chose our
favorite scenes and we would act
them out for mom. He had a thing
for being John Wayne.

                     ALEX
My Dad was always too busy for
that. Work all the time. We had
money, well for awhile anyway, but
we never had that. He sounds like
a good guy.

                     TOM
He was a good guy.

                     ALEX
Was?

                     TOM
Colon cancer. Last year.

                     ALEX
I'm sorry.

                     TOM
I'm not. It hurts but he was in so
much pain. He's in a better place.
Maybe if you go you can at least
talk to some friends, maybe find
your missing moment.

                     ALEX
I didn't have friends growing up.

                     TOM
Then I have to go.

Tom walks off toward the door.

                     ALEX
Go? You're really bad at
comforting did you know that?

                     TOM
I have to go pack. It appears I
have plane to catch.

Tom exits and Alex looks hard at his painting before tossing it aside.

EXT. AIRPORT - DAY

A PLANE soars into the sky.

EXT. DAD'S HOUSE - DAY

ALEX and TOM examine the scene from the driveway.

The GRASS is overgrown.

The house needs a new coat of paint.

Alex takes in the site he hasn't seen in...

                     ALEX
Six years.

MEMORY:

Alex watches as his FORMAL SELF from six years ago walks out the house and down the driveway past him with SUITCASE in tow. His FS stops at the end of the driveway and takes a final look.

Inside he can hear the sound of angry violent fighting.

Alex watches as he walks down the road and fades from vision.

END MEMORY

                     TOM
Ready for this?

Alex nods his head and approaches the door with Tom.

He knocks. A middle aged woman, DIANE, answers the door.

                     DIANE
You must be Alex. We weren't sure
if you'd come.

                     ALEX
Yeah and my friend Tom. Who are
you?

                     DIANE
I'm Diane. Your father's nurse.
Come in.

INT. DAD'S HOUSE - DAY

A PLANT sits on a cluttered living room table, withering. Unread NEWSPAPERS cover the COUCH.

A kitchen TRASH CAN overflows.

Diane ushers them to the edge of a hallway.

                     DIANE
Your father's in his bedroom.

                     ALEX
So this is real? He's really....

                     DIANE
Dying. Afraid so.

                     TOM
I'll wait out here. You'll be
fine.

Alex walks down the hallway when suddenly..

He stops and focuses on a section of wall outside a bedroom door. Alex watches..

BEGIN MEMORY:

His MOTHER with RAG in hand scrubs blood off the wall. The bedroom door opens to reveal a little boy, its LITTLE ALEX.

                     MOM
Its OK. Mommy's fine. Go back to
bed.

END MEMORY.

Alex approaches Dad's bedroom door.

INT. DAD'S ROOM - DAY

Alex opens the door slowly peeking in. His DAD lies in bed dressed in a button down shirt, tie and dress slacks. His face is void of color.

Alex enters the room.

                     DAD
I didn't think you'd come.

                     ALEX
Me either.

                     DAD
Well you're here. So pull up a
chair son. Tell me about your art.
Its going well eh?

                     ALEX
O yeah. It’s selling like crazy.
Just the other day I sold this
piece to this guy who owns a
really notable art gallery. He's
considering giving me a showcase.
It could lead to all sorts of
things. Museum pieces, commissions
to paint for different places.
Yeah, the possibilities are
limitless.

                     DAD
Well, that's real good. I'm glad
you turned out all right and
getting what you want outta life.
Real good. Real real good.

                     ALEX
Yeah. Real good. So you're dying?
This is real.

                     DAD
Cirrhosis of the liver. The real
deal. Poetic though isn't it?

                     ALEX
Dying?

                     DAD
Yes. But I was referring to the
phrase "Cirrhosis Of The Liver".
Rolls off your tongue like the
sweet nectar from a poet's
lips. Cirrhosis, cirrhosis, your
name a melody, your symphony so
pure, yet your audience is death,
your instrument fear---

                     ALEX
Who are you?

                     DAD
I'm your father glad to meet you.

Dad extends his hand for a shake..

                     ALEX
That would almost be funny if it
weren't true. This isn't the Dad I
remember. I don't remember jokes
and laughter. I remember screams,
drunken rages, hell.

                     DAD
I guess I wasn't a good father,
was I?

                     ALEX
If you call beating the shit out
my mother, being a angry drunk
twenty four seven, then yeah,
you're a fucking example to all of
fatherhood.

                     DAD
I never laid a hand on you.

                     ALEX
O, yeah, just mom, that makes it
real better. Still rationalizing
everything and you wonder why I
haven't shown up in six years. I
can't believe I'm here.

                     DAD
Why are you here Alex?

                     ALEX
I have no clue. I thought maybe I
would show up and miraculously
find one moment, one good moment
in the past, that would help me
see one good reason I came. One
good reason not to be so angry at
you everyday of my life. But guess
what? I can't remember one single
moment. I'm sorry you got all
dressed up for nothing cause
Goodbye father. Have a nice life,
what's left of it.

                     DAD
I didn't get dressed up for you.

                     ALEX
What?

                     DAD
Way I figure it. I've hurt a lot
of people in my life. You. Your
momma. I can't see a smile on the
big guy's face when I get up
there. I thought maybe if I
dressed for the occasion, showed a
little respect, he wouldn't be so
angry with me. Might show me the
love I didn't show you.

                     ALEX
I gotta go Dad.

                     DAD
I know. Alex, "mystery canvas".

                     ALEX
I haven't thought of that in
years.

                     DAD
You have your moment. Love you
kid. See you in O, sixty, seventy
years.

                     ALEX
I can't.

                     DAD
I know. But love you just the
same.

                     ALEX
Take care Dad.

Alex exits.

EXT. ATWATER PARK - DAY

Tom jogs to keep up with Alex running deep into a park.

Past a SWING SET and MONKEY BARS until finally reaching a SLIDE. Tom stops in dumbstruck curiosity as Alex climbs to the top of the slide.

                     TOM
Ok. Clue me in.

                     ALEX
This is my moment!

                     TOM
Great. Can we swing on the monkey
bars next? If we hurry maybe get a
few minutes in the sandbox before
dark.

                     ALEX
When I was little my Dad would
always feel really bad after he
had one of his episodes.

INT. ART STORE - DAY

Alex studies the canvas aisle. He grabs a canvas instantly.

                     ALEX (VO)
He would go to the art store and
buy me a canvas. We had this game.
We called it "Mystery Canvas" I
would paint a picture of someplace
I wanted to go.

INT. ALEX'S APARTMENT - DAY

Alex paints passionately.

                     ALEX (VO)
We would get in his truck
afterwards and he would look at
the Canvas and try to drive to
where the painting showed.

INT. ATWATER PARK - DAY

Alex stands on top of the slide looking down at a curious
Tom.

                     ALEX
I tried for months and months. I
would always end up having to tell
him until one day he got it right.
It was a painting of this slide!

INT. ALEX'S APARTMENT - DAY

Alex puts down his brush and steps back to admire his work.

He smiles.

EXT. ATWATER PARK - DAY

Alex stands on top of the slide looking down at the still
curious Tom.

                     ALEX
That's my moment.

INT. ALEX'S APARTMENT - DAY

A real BED is made up against the wall.

A green flourishing PLANT sits on a table with BOOKS.

MAIL is stored neatly in a holder on the kitchen counter.

A TRASH CAN sits neatly in the kitchen.

A PAINTING hangs on the wall.

It is set in Autumn. Leaves of all colors cover the landscape of a park. In the background are a swing set and
monkey bars.

In the forefront is a slide with a child sliding down.

A middle aged man leans against a truck in a gravel parking lot watching the little boy play. On his face is a smile.

                     ALEX (VO)
That one day. That's my moment.

FADE OUT