Espresso and Gin | Skillshare Projects



Espresso and Gin

2nd Draft:

Note: Will get 3rd draft up soon and continue to review the scripts of others :D

I hope with the improvements I have added I have managed to evoke more sympathy for Jack. I also hope I have managed to make the action with lawyer escalate much slower in this draft. There is now a clear catalyst for her wanting to drop Tommy Rhodes' case.

Improvements on first draft:

- I have given a slightly ambiguous context which explains the reason for Jack's parole - it regards a girl who he is in love with.

- I have added two elderly characters to interact with Jack at the beginning; one of them is in the final scene too.

- I have fleshed out the character of Kelly, the lawyer, a bit more. I have given context as to why she accepted the judge's deal.

I think this is a fantastic programme being run by James Franco, having adapted two short stories myself to short film format in The Necklace (1884) by  Guy de Maupassant  and On the Gulls' Road (1908) by Willa Cather. My pitch for The Chain, an adaptation of The Necklace, got through to the final stages of the Idris Elba Samsung Launching People competition (

I have written and directed several short screenplays before, and I have been chosen to direct the National Youth Film Academy's (UK) tent pole project this summer. Here is my reel:

This ambitious first draft is far from perfect but I feel that it is both cinematic and introspective in its scope, and has a great twist. I very much look forward to participating in the peer feedback part of the class.

The piece is an adaptation of the 'Jack McGuire' poem from Edgar Lee Master's 'Spoon River Anthology'. I have included the screenplay and poem below.

Link to screenplay (1st draft - 2nd draft at top of description):

Jack McGuire

"THEY would have lynched me

Had I not been secretly hurried away To the jail at Peoria.

And yet I was going peacefully home,

Carrying my jug, a little drunk,

When Logan, the marshal, halted me

Called me a drunken hound and shook me

And, when I cursed him for it, struck me

With that Prohibition loaded cane--

All this before I shot him.

They would have hanged me except for this:

My lawyer, Kinsey Keene, was helping to land

Old Thomas Rhodes for wrecking the bank,

And the judge was a friend of

Rhodes And wanted him to escape,

And Kinsey offered to quit on

Rhodes For fourteen years for me.

And the bargain was made.

I served my time

And learned to read and write."

I found the poem extremely intriguing. Jack McGuire was probably an African American man when you consider the context of the piece; he would have been 'lynched', he could not 'read and write' and the piece was published in 1915. The part of the poem where the police officer shakes and strikes Jack McGuire for being drunk and not doing anything illegal made me think of contemporary police beatings, particularly the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles; King was initially pulled over for illegal activity but the beating he received was completely brutal and unjustified. My short film is set in Los Angeles because of the police corruption that has happened there in recent years. It is inspired by 'Training Day' and 'Boyz n the Hood', both of which feature corrupt African American police officers.

CCTV footage of the police beating of Rodney King

The police officer in my short film is the parole officer of Jack, so there is history between the two of them. The film deals with race relations; Jack is a black male and Logan, the parole officer, is a mixed race (white and black) male. The trigger that sparks Logan's beating of Jack is Jack calling Logan 'vanilla and a half breed bitch'. The film also deals with how Wall Street bankers are untouchable in our contemporary society. Jack is meant to be given the death penalty for killing his parole officer, but a Wall Street banker who commits fraud is let off in exchange for Jack serving fourteen years in prison.

Note: I may change the racist slur used to something like 'choc ice' which is what black people call other black people who are accused of 'acting white on the inside'.

The title of the short film. 'Espresso and Gin', was inspired by my short film 'Americano and Rum', which was a film about a detective struggling with conflicting ideologies of good and bad. When he was drinking Americano he was sober, lucid and on the right side of the law. When he was drinking rum he was corrupt and more sinister. The symbolism of drinking espresso and gin is not so obvious or explicit in this film, but it was something I wanted to incorporate. I was initially going to call the film 'Write and Wrong', or 'Read and Right'. Jack murders a police officer (a wrong) and learns to read and write (a right). The irony here is that normally good things do not happen as a result of bad acts being committed. If Jack had not committed the bad act, he would never have gone to jail and never would have learned to read and write.


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