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 2007
Screenplay Contest - Full-Length Series

"Silent Killer"

Written by Phil Ferriere


Phil Ferriere is an alum of UCLA's Advanced Professional Program in Screenwriting. Several of his scripts have placed in well-regarded screenwriting competitions. He can be contacted at writer@philferriere.com. For more information about Phil and his other screenplays, please visit http://philferriere.com.


After she discovers animals dying of a lethal disease transmissible to man at a highly profitable ranch in Texas, a tenacious veterinarian investigates and puts her life on the line to expose a monumental cover-up.


SILENT KILLER tells the tale of Dr. Kate Jordan, a veterinarian employed by one of the most profitable cattle ranches in Texas. Former boyfriend Luke Brown now works at a meat packing plant and just lost his father to a mysterious neurodegenerative disease. When Kate unveils a Mad Cow Disease cover up at her ranch and Luke discovers no one wants to know what really killed his father, they are brought together again in searching for the truth. That is, if they can forgive each other for their past decisions... a lesson better learned fast if they want a chance to survive an enemy who will stop at nothing to hide the truth from the public.




A million acres of land. Skies ablaze with the setting sun.

Immense droves of cattle rove an endless open range.

Like a forsaken island, an old tannery stands in a lowland area, a gunmetal truck with a hydraulic lift parked out front.


Sun-bleached and decrepit, the tannery appears unused for years. Decades even... Except for a shiny new padlock.

Longhorn steer skulls guard both sides of the main door. The windows are blocked with worm-eaten wooden boards.

Dead air...

The lift's cable gently rubs against the open tailgate of the truck as a stray dog, rawboned, frenetically licks blood dripping from the hook.

The sound of taut ropes and squeaking pulleys breaks the silence-

The dog startles, crawls toward the tannery, and pushes his muzzle between the boards, letting--


--blades of sunshine cut their way in, slice through a cloud of swirling dust.

Blood-stained floorboards creak under mud-caked steel-toes.

Crumbling shelves loaded with brand new and empty glass containers of sulfuric acid line up the wall.

In the middle of the tannery, a huge pit...

At the bottom, a cow decomposes in a bath of acid. Sizzles and pops. Sinks in a pool of darkness...


The clack of nervous hooves stamping through wet straw bounces off close walls. A horse's labored breathing fills the room.

             KATE (V.O.)
Relax... I'm almost done.

A calm, soothing voice leading the way out of the darkness-


The voice belongs to DR. KATE JORDAN, 32, a Social Butterfly 101 dropout, but a gifted veterinarian - the truly dedicated kind who shares closer bonds with animals than people.

Scrubs and face mask on, forehead creased in concentration, she's completely in charge. Her arm pushes inside a mare...

His posture is faulty. If she
Pushes any harder, she'll crack
his neck.

The O.R. is cutting-edge tech. Sprawling and immaculate.

Kate's assistant, ABBY, 28, and a VET TECH, 20s, secure the horse with a halter.

Kate frees her arm out--the fetus falls in convulsion--the mother screams in excruciating pain--

He's in fetal distress. We gotta
open her up.

Behind a glass wall, Kate's boss, MR. COOPER, 59, a weathered cowboy built like a center guard, watches the procedure with a skeptical eye. His finger flies and stabs the intercom.

             MR. COOPER
Save the foal. No stunt this time.
The foal! Forget the mare, Kate.

How refreshingly humane. Abby, get
the anesthetic.

Abby stares at Kate, then Mr. Cooper.

More bark than bite, for sure. So
far. Isn't he? Xylazine, five ccs...

A needle punctures the rubber seal of a vial. Liquid swishes as Abby draws back the plunger and hands the syringe to Kate.

The mare's teeth bite the Vet Tech's shoulder. Jerk him around. Cool under fire, Kate swiftly sinks the needle in the animal's jugular IV cath.

The mare's eyelids flutter, her head gradually droops forward.


Behind the glass, Mr. Cooper paces, chewing a cigar to pieces.

The mare lies on her back, in the thick of a padded V-shaped surgery table. Kate, surgically precise, makes a 24-inch incision along the ventral midline.

Abby, sweating profusely, hands her a Weitlanor retractor. Kate wipes Abby's forehead with gauze. Abby relaxes, a bit...


Abby and the Vet Tech pull out the foal. Amniotic fluid cascades on the floor.

Kate checks the animal's nares for mucus: clear. His eyes open... close again. He goes limp. Stops breathing--

             MR. COOPER
What's happening, Kate? Kate?

Kate clamps three leads on the foal--turns on a continuous EKG. A green line flares on the heart rate monitor. She darts for a crash cart, Abby in step.

Give me two-hundred Joules.

Abby rotates the dial--when the door clangs open. Kate's eyes widen when she realizes Mr. Cooper is in the clean room.

She adjusts the dial back to 10 Js. Abby looks up, puzzled. Kate winks back... and wheels the cart toward Mr. Cooper.

             MR. COOPER
This foal is worth half a mil--

With his build, he could crush her... but she shoves the paddles around his chest.

This is a clean room. If you don't
get out of here immediately, I swear
I'll blow your selfless heart.

The paddles discharge with a loud thwack as--


--Mr. Cooper, back in the hall, watches Kate shock the foal with another thwack.

SAM COOPER, 36, a creature of commerce, swaggers in. A practiced and business-like smile crosses his lips.

             MR. COOPER
You need to hire another head vet.

Why? What's going on?

             MR. COOPER
Never listens. Been here for three
months and still don't respect me.
Heck, she don't respect human life,
period. Almost killed me back there.

You were in there?

             MR. COOPER
All she had to do was rip that damn
mare wide open hours ago and get me
my foal. I want her out, son.

What makes you think she can't save
both? You can't go in there, 'Pa--

             MR. COOPER
Both? She's wastin' time and
resources--our money!--on a mare
that's done for. She got no sense
of priorities, Sam. Just fire her.

It took me two years to find someone
her caliber. For cheap too. And
she's local. If you think you can
find a better veterinarian, then...

             MR. COOPER
God, you're so goddamn weak.


Focused as a laser beam, Kate shocks the foal and massages its heart. The green line on the heart rate monitor rises sharply... and rapidly flattens out.

She injects 20 ccs of epinephrine in his left jugular vein, massages the foal, faster, deeper...

The green line spikes erratically, becomes more regular... and holds! Abby wraps the foal in a heated blanket.

Awesome again, Dr. Jordan.

I thought you might like that.
Couldn't have done it without you.

Big arm movements behind the window--Mr. Cooper wants to get in. The Vet Tech removes his gloves and heads for the door--

Don't you dare...

Kate points at the opened mare.

             VET TECH
Come on, you heard Mr. Cooper, all
he wants is the foal.

Get yourself another pair of gloves.


Members of the equine press gather noisily. Mr. Cooper makes a show of lowering to one knee. With great flourish, he slides the warming blanket off the back of his precious colt.

             MR. COOPER
Awesome Again... How's that for a
name, Champ'?


Arms resting on the fence, Kate and Abby watch the media circus. Shake their heads in dismay.

They don't make men like him anymore.

You mean they don't swing from the
trees like they used to?

Is that how you pick up chicks?

Once a lesbian... You're welcome to
join the club, if you'd like.

Tempting... but no thanks.

Behind them, the mare wakes up. Whinnies. Kate crouches besides it and lights up with a smile.