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, November 2005 – April 2006 Screenplay Contest – Full-Length Series


Written by Danny Howell


When a lonely teen's visions of her classmates' murders by an unseen killer start coming true, she suspects her own father.


Cynthia has visions of deaths of girls from her school, at the hands of someone whose identity she can't make out. When the girls start turning up dead in real life, Cynthia suspects her own abusive father is the killer – she knows he’s been watching the girls with bad intent.

Cynthia has never been able to tell anyone about her father’s abuse, not even her well meaning but living-in-denial mother. Now she can't bring herself to tell anyone about her terrible visions -- not even when the girls start turning up missing.

Then Cynthia falls for Adam, a geek rebel. Together, they discover the body of one of the victims, and the murder weapon - a knife just like one Cynthia's father owns.

Attracted to her darkness, Adam agrees to help Cynthia find out if her father is the killer. After a harrowing encounter with Cynthia's father, Adam is a believer. He helps Cynthia break into a shed where her father keeps his hunting knives, to see if the one they found is missing. Inside, they discover an "alter" of photographs and stolen objects of the murdered girls.

Adam calls the police. Facing arrest, Cynthia's dad kills himself, after failing in one last attempt to manipulate and control Cynthia.

Afterward, Adam comforts Cynthia as she tries to pick up the pieces of her life. Cynthia sleeps with Adam for the first time, then has a vision of Adam’s murder -- by the same killer whose face she could not quite make out in her previous visions. Adam's life depends on realizing in time that Cynthia is not who she appears to be, and that her visions are really part of her own extreme form of acting out.




RUTH ANN BOUIE and SHERYL GRATZER, both 16, wearing impossibly scant bikinis, lie on their stomachs on brightly colored beach towels, eyes closed, skin slick with lotion. A portable cd player blares glitzy pop music.

R.C. BARDAHL, 50, stands a few feet away, watching. Burr haircut, thick neck and arms, gray work shirt with rolled up sleeves, sweat stains radiating from the armpits – and a large knife, held loosely in one hand.

Ruth Ann wakes to the sound of the cd skipping.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           Shit! I just bought it!

She gets up, goes over to the player, bends over, takes out the cd and blows on it, pops it back in.

When she straightens up, she is face to face with Bardahl. She opens her mouth, then her eyes go to the knife. She closes her mouth.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                                     (calmly, as if to
                                                       a rabid dog)
                                           What do you want, Mr. Bardahl?

Bardahl licks his lips. The cd is still skipping. Ruth Ann crosses her arms over her breasts.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           Mr. Bardahl? What are you doing here?

                                           Your record’s warped.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           What’s a record?

                                           From playin’ it in the sun, that’s
                                            prob’ly why.

He turns his attention to Sheryl, still asleep, and absent-mindedly begins to make small circles on the crotch of his dungarees with the knife blade.

                                           My, how you girls have grown.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           Sheryl, wake up.

                                           Just like my girl.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                                      (a little louder)

                                           You girls never come over to see
                                            Cynthia like you used to.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           That was way back when we were kids,
                                            Mr. Bardahl.

                                           You ain’t friends no more?

Bardahl keeps making circles with the knife. The blade slits his trousers. Soon a dark stain appears on his upper thigh.

                                           You should come see her. You’re
                                            welcome anytime.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           You’ve cut yourself.

                                                       (as if in a fog)

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           With your knife. You’re bleeding.

He looks down, lets out an audible burst of air.

                                           Where the hell’s my mind at these days?

Sheryl stirs and moans. Ruth Ann clears her throat.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           Mr. Bardahl? What’s the knife for?

                                           To gut something. See?
                                                      (holding it up)
                                           It’s serrated.

They stare at each other. He fingers the expanding dark spot on his trousers.

                                           Well. You girls come over and see
                                            Cynthia anytime.

Sheryl wakes up as he walks away.

                                           Is that Cynthia’s dad? What the fuck
                                            was he doing here?

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           Being strange. Like his daughter.

                                           The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           What’s a record?


An iron picket fence, half fallen over and covered with Queen Anne’s Lace, fronts the yard. The gate is permanently rusted open. Car parts litter each side of an oil-stained sidewalk.

CYNTHIA BARDAHL, 16, sits on a porch swing, fiddling with something in her lap. Long-legged and big-boned, her baggy shorts and oversized t-shirt mask her figure, but her face is exotically attractive – blue eyes, pale complexion, light reddish brown hair.

She smiles, revealing perfect teeth. The smile vanishes when Bardahl walks up.

                                           Whatcha got there, honey?

                                                  (without looking up)
                                           Somethin’ I made.

                                           Well, let your daddy see.

She holds up a collection of small bones on a string.

                                           It’s a cat’s spinal column.  I boiled
                                            it and then ran the string through.

Bardahl looks confused.

                                           That’s nice, honey. Lookee here, your
                                            old dad’s cut hisself.

She doesn’t look.

                                           These pants are ruint, I guess. I’ll
                                            go take ‘em off, then you come in and
                                            help daddy get cleaned and bandaged up.

He opens the screen door and goes inside. She dangles the cat’s-spine-on-a-string, making it dance.

                                                       BARDAHL (O.S.)
                                           Cynthia? Daddy’s ready. Come on

She throws the bones down, stands up quickly and goes in. The empty swing creaks as it sways back and forth.


Sink with a hand pump; metal dinette set with yellow plastic edging. Cynthia, wearing a baggy shirt and pants, sits at the table drinking juice. DESI BARDAHL, 52, her skin as faded as her print dress, scrambles eggs at the gas range.

Bardahl comes in, dressed in a work shirt with “R.C.” stitched above the shirt pocket. He tickles Cynthia on the back of the neck; she cringes.

                                           Don’t tease her.

                                                      (ignoring Desi)
                                           Cyn, ain’t you friends with that Ruth
                                            Ann no more?

                                           Not since third grade.

                                           She sure has grown. In all the right
                                            places, if you know what I mean.

He pours coffee for himself and takes a plate of eggs from Desi. He looks at Cynthia and frowns.

                                           Speaking of, what kind of way is that
                                            to dress for school? Go put on
                                            somethin’ that shows off your figure.

                                           R.C.! What a way to talk.

Cynthia gets up and leaves the room.


Totally utilitarian décor - dark colors, no photographs, no personal possessions.

Cynthia holds up an even baggier black t shirt. She pulls off the one she’s wearing – she does have a nice figure.

Her stomach is criss-crossed with cutting scars, some fresher than others.


Dozens of laughing teenagers walk in pairs and threes up the front steps. Cynthia walks alone, her black t shirt a dark spot on the sun against the other kids’ bright pastels.


Synthetic and sterile furnishings from the ‘70s are etched with generations of teen hieroglyphics. The federal and state flags flank a massive teacher’s desk.

MR. BETER, 59, hands in pockets, jingles change as he paces. His expression suggests a mild kidney stone attack.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           Thank you, Ralph, for that, um,
                                            exuberant reading of your poem . . .
                                                  (checking his notes)
                                           “I Can’t Wait To Join the Marines And
                                            Learn To Kill”.

Muted chuckling. RALPH, a crew-cut Alfred E. Neumann look-alike, beams and accepts punches from his buddies.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           That’s enough, people. Who’s next . .
                                            . Adam.

A gangly kid with glasses in a short-sleeved oxford shirt, ADAM BUNDY, 16, slinks down in his chair. Behind him, DUANE FERGUSON, a Hitler Youth type, open-palms Adam in the back of the head.

                                           You’re up, pizza face.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           That’s enough, Duane.

                                           Sorry, Peter – I mean, Mr. Beter!

The boys in class snicker at the millionth rendering of the joke. If possible, Mr. Beter looks even more tired.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           Let’s go, Adam.

                                           I left it at home.

A piece of paper sticks out of Adam’s notebook. Mr. Beter walks over and plucks it, letting it dangle in front of Adam.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           What’s this?

Adam takes it resignedly and walks the plank to the front.

                                           “The air conditioner rattles and stares
                                            at me,
                                           Scares me sometimes – it has no eyes,
                                           But I need the company – it’s a small
                                            empty room.
                                           So I leave it on and pretend to be

                                           “The others don’t say much, they listen
                                            too well.
                                           The Frigidaire doubtless too old to
                                            make small talk, let alone decent
                                            ice cubes.

                                           “And it’s alright, really, I don’t mind
                                           Alone like this – that is, till the
                                           Grow tired of my presence and start
                                            crowding in.
                                           They pressure me out – me alone with
                                            the monsters.”

After a beat, an explosion of laughter.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           Shut up!

They don’t.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           Shut the hell up!
The profanity gets their attention.

                                                         MR. BETER

Uncomfortable silence. HEATHER, 16, clears her throat and starts to raise a hand, her metallic pink nail polish dazzling under the ceiling fluorescents. Overweight, she dresses in denial.

                                                         MR. BETER

                                           I liked it.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           Okay, that's a start, I guess. But
                                            what do you think Adam’s poem is about?

                                                      (looking down)
                                           I don't know how to say it.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           Well, let's find someone with some
                                            language skills.

He looks around, then settles on a dark form in the corner.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           Cynthia? Are you with us today?


Nervous silence. In the front, Ruth Ann rolls her eyes.

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           (loud enough to make sure
                                           she’s heard)
                                           Takes one to know one.

Relieved laughter from the class. Cynthia sinks into her seat. Adam slinks back to his.

                                                         MR. BETER
                                           For this I got a master’s degree.


As students file out, Ruth Ann waits by the door. When Cynthia emerges, Ruth Ann pulls her over roughly.


                                                         RUTH ANN
                                                     (eyeing her over)
                                           Nice fashion statement. Listen, nut
                                            case, tell your Dad to keep out of our
                                            yard or I’m gonna tell my folks.

                                           What are you talking about?

                                                         RUTH ANN
                                           As if you didn’t know. Just tell him
                                            he better keep his perv self on his own

Ruth Ann trots off. Cynthia sees Adam standing nearby and runs off. Adam watches her go.


Bardahl scrapes food scraps over the side of the front porch. A large black tom cat runs up and pounces on them.


Desi adjusts her hat in a mirror, then smoothes her dress. Cynthia lies on a couch, propped up with pillows, rubbing her forehead.

                                           Seems like every day by the time you
                                            come home, you got a sick headache.

                                           I probably have a brain tumor.

                                           Shush! You’re gonna miss a good

                                           They’re always the same – we’re going
                                            to burn in hell.

                                           We are.

                                           You and Dad can tell me all about it.

Desi picks up a vinyl purse.

                                            He’s staying home with you. He didn’t