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 2008
Screenplay Contest - Teleplay/Short Series
"Rocket Surgery"
Written by Barry Kelly

Craig Rosenthal
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Writer / Director Barry Kelly trained and resides in Dublin, Ireland. As a director, his short films have been screened on television and selected for a multitude of international film festivals including Cannes, Boston, Greece, Norway, Cologne, Berlin, Belfast and Galway. As a screenwriter, he is currently scripting two original feature films and numerous short scripts in addition to researching a major documentary project and developing a series of monologues for television. He is delighted to have been selected as the first place recipient of The Writer’s Place award.

Additional Writer Information
Contact: barrykelly24@hotmail.com

LOGLINE

Two men lie in a hospital ward and, through fractured, comic exchanges, examine their lives and ponder their uncertain future.

SYNOPSIS

Shot through with black wit and a surreal edge, Rocket Surgery is a scream of consciousness that looks at how two desperate souls - unsure of their future, and unhappy with their present - communicate their fears and feelings as they struggle through a long night of two souls.

SCRIPT FOLLOWS

FADE IN

INT. HOSPITAL WARD – NIGHT

3 A.M. The middle of the graveyard shift. Quiet, eerie. No real sense of time here; only muted light and echoing sounds. An underwater feel.

We're moving through a small hospital ward. Passing a row of empty beds, our view lands on a man (30's) in one of the beds. Despite the setting, and although his face carries that hollow look brought on by bad habits and lack of sleep, he doesn't look sickly. Rather, he seems edgy, restless; shifting uncomfortably in a mess of sheets, pressing impatiently at a nurses call button he holds in one agitated hand. This is MAL. His gaze is fixed on the set of double doors that lead to the corridor outside. Light streams in.

On the opposite side of the ward, in another bed, lies CONN (30's). Slightly younger than his roommate; bald and gaunt, razor-like. He sits atop his bed; legs folded under him, yogi style, in pajamas and a pair of mismatching socks. He seems relaxed, mellow even, reading a book (Kierkegaard's The Sickness Unto Death), one arm hooked up to a drip hanging beside the bed. He looks up over his book; watches as Mal struggles and frantically clicks the call button. Then, in a friendly, even tone speaks.

              CONN
Alright?

              MAL
Do I look alright?

              CONN
Not really. Still can't sleep then?

              MAL
How observant of you.

              CONN
Thank you.

              MAL
   (agitated)
Where is she?

              CONN
Who?

              MAL
Nurse Ratched.

              CONN
What?

              MAL
That nurse! Where is she?

              CONN
He.

              MAL
What?

              CONN
He.

              MAL
What?

              CONN
He! The Nurse. She's a he now. She changed shifts
with the Asian fella. She said she couldn't handle
another night with you haranguing her every five minutes.

              MAL
I.....!

Mal stops, exasperated. Conn turns his attention back to his book; wetting his thumb and turning a page with it. This only seems to irritate Mal further.

               MAL (CONT’D)
Could you please stop that?

              CONN
Stop what?

              MAL
I can hear you reading.

              CONN
Would you like me to stop breathing as well?

              MAL
     (sarcastic)
That'd be nice.

Conn turns the book over onto his lap, focusing his full attention on Mal.

              CONN
Something wrong by any chance?

              MAL
No, no. Well, except for the fact that I've been
stuck in this room for.
     (stops a moment, thinks)
Well I've forgotten how long now, with no one to
talk to except you.

              CONN
There's always him.

Our view shifts abruptly to one side of Mal: in another bed, lies the only other occupant of the ward, WATTS. An unfortunate soul, unconscious and hooked up to breathing apparatus; an array of tubes coming in and out of every orifice. Bizarrely, he is covered with splotches of what appears to be magnolia colored paint.
Mal looks him over for a beat.

              MAL
Oh yeah, there's always him.
      (with concern)
What happened anyway?

              CONN
Massive stroke while he was painting the
kitchen. Wife and dog and kids running around
shrieking and wailing.

              MAL
They could at least have cleaned the paint off.

              CONN
Yeah. What a thing to happen. Imagine, one
second you're up a stepladder applying "jasmine
silk" to the walls. A clot in the brain later, you're a
comatose Damien Hirst exhibit.

              MAL
Must have been a shock for his family. Having
to see that happen right in front of you.

              CONN
Yeah. And just imagine the state of the kitchen.

              MAL
Do you think he can hear us?

              CONN
Lets hope not.

              MAL
      (shouts)
Hello.

With disdain, Mal returns his gaze to the double doors; clicks the call button again; looks to a clock on the wall.

              MAL (CONT’D)
It's gone three.

              CONN
Really? Gone where?

Mal looks less than impressed.

              CONN (CONT’D)
Easy, easy. Don't have a hemorrhage. Well not in
here anyway.

              MAL
I need a cigarette. I need a drink.

              CONN
No. You need answers. Would you like to talk to
someone who can answer your questions for you?
Would you like to get to know Jesus on a more direct
level my son? I can bring you to him. I can show you
the path if you choose to take it.

Mal freezes; the look of a deer caught in headlights. Conn remains straight faced for a beat then...a smile fills his face.

              CONN (CONT’D)
Easy, I'm just fuckin with ya. Seriously though, I
have all the books here.
      (gestures to a pile of books beside his bed)
Living with Death. The Sickness Unto Death.

              MAL
They don't sound deeply optimistic.

              CONN
No. But there must be an appropriate answer in
one of them. What do you think?

              MAL
I think people like you are the reason I don't own
a gun.

              CONN
Do you want to know what I think?

              MAL
Oh please, I'm just dying to hear.

Conn's drip...gurgles.

On the wall...the clock ticks. Time...crawls.

              CONN
How are you feeling?

              MAL
Through my fingers usually?

Conn throws him a look; translation: "I'm trying here".

Mal sighs.

              MAL (CONT’D)
How am I feeling? Well...besides symptoms of
boredom, depression, withdrawal...

              CONN
Now-now.

              MAL
...insomnia, hypertension, sexual frustration...

              CONN
Self-diagnosis is no diagnosis.

              MAL
It's the only diagnosis.

              CONN
And as for sexual frustration...

              MAL
        (defensive)
What?

              CONN
        (performs jerking motion with one hand)
Oh come on I can hear every moan, groan, rustle
and shuffle of what currently constitutes your sex life.

              MAL
Oh and you don't do it I suppose

                                          CONN
      (raises hands, smiles)
I've got blisters at this stage.

Mal is unimpressed by the attempt at levity.

             CONN (CONT’D)
Oh cheer up will you?

              MAL
Cheer up? How can I cheer up when I'm stuck
in this post millennial slaughterhouse being stalked
at every turn by a dozen armed maniacs with an
array of lethal implements and a legally endorsed
licence to kill.

              CONN
Who?

Mal points an accusatory finger towards the corridor.

              MAL
Them!

              CONN
They're not trying to kill you. They're trying to help
you.

              MAL
They're going to cut me open!

              CONN
They're cutting everyone open. It's what they do.

              MAL
Aha you see! You admit it? They're psychopaths.

              CONN
It could be worse.

              MAL
How?

              CONN
You could be dying.

              MAL
We're all dying.

Conn looks at Mal with quiet intensity.

              CONN
Some of us faster than others though.

Mal shuts up; chastened and embarrassed.

              CONN (CONT’D)
Well do you want to talk about it then?

              MAL
Talk?

              CONN
Yeah well, we've been here for...well quite a while
now and you haven't told me anything about yourself.

              MAL
Like what? My sign? My hopes for world peace?

              CONN
Well talk then.

              MAL
What do you want me to talk about? The beauty of
a sunrise? My plans for the future? How only God
can make a tree? Why? Because we're lying in
hospital, moments away from life altering surgery?

OS: From the corridor, we hear a door swing closed. Then, the sound of footsteps; fast, someone running.

              MAL (CONT’D)
Oh! Here's something.

              CONN
     (dismissive)
It's just Stan.

              MAL
Oh God, he's not naked again is he?

Mal watches the doorway. The corridor outside, empty.

ANGLE ON: THE DOORWAY AND CORRIDOR

OS: The footfalls getting closer and closer.

Then, the blurry figure of a man runs past the doorway. We hear him screech to a halt. He re-enters frame and looks in at Mal and Conn. In his late 50's, wearing nothing but a loose fitting hospital gown and a huge grin, this is STAN.

Voices shout out behind him in the corridor. Stan's head turns in their direction.

              NURSE
Come on now, Stanley. Calm down!

Stan looks back to the inhabitants of the ward, lets out a demented laugh and takes off out of frame, his gown flapping in the breeze.

Two harried looking nurses, one MALE, one FEMALE, swiftly follow after him. They run past the doorway in pursuit of Stan without even looking in at the ward.

Mal calls out after them as they pass.

              MAL
Nurse! Hey! Nurse!

No response, only Stan's laughter echoing down the corridor. The footfalls recede. A door swings closed.

Quiet descends once more. Mal groans.

              CONN
Go on, give us a smile.

              MAL
For what?

              CONN
I don't know. For destiny?

              MAL
Who's Destiny?

              CONN
It could be yours.

              MAL
My what?

              CONN
Destiny.

              MAL
How's that then?

              CONN
Well, you never know.

              MAL
     (confused)
Right?

              CONN
It's destiny, you know? That's just it! You never
know. You never know until it's happened.

              MAL
    (extremely confused)
Right?

INTERCUT:

INT. A HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - NIGHT

TWO ORDERLIES, one behind the other, each wheel a gurney at speed down a hospital corridor. On the gurneys, lay Mal and Conn. Dressed now in white smocks; prepped for surgery; literally being driven towards their inescapable fate - the operating theatre. They continue their conversation without missing a beat, as if they were still in the ward, shouting as they're sped down the corridor.

              CONN
I mean, you can't just say oh yes, that's destiny
for you before it's happened, can you?

              MAL
No?

              CONN
So, you just have to wait for it to happen.

              MAL
Destiny?

              CONN
Right.

              MAL
Aren't you talking about fate?

              CONN
Who's Faith?

              MAL
No. Fate!

              CONN
No, I don't think so…

              MAL
Why not?

              CONN
Well. It's not the same is it?

              MAL
Not the same as what?

              CONN
As destiny.

              MAL
How's that then?

              CONN
Well. For a start it doesn't sound the same.

              MAL
That's it? That's your profound revelation?

              CONN
Well, I haven't thought it out fully yet. Revelations
don't just happen you know.

              MAL
I thought the whole point of revelations was that
they did just happen.

              CONN
You'd think, wouldn't you?

              MAL
Thank you Deepak Chopra.

(CONTINUED)