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STEP 1: SELECTING TEXT

I chose Junius Maltby's story from The Pastures of Heaven.  It was the story that resonated the most with me, as it is a clear depiction of the pervasive pressure to conform and how that often tends to strangle what is good and wild.  

STAGE 2: THE SCREENPLAY

MINUS 2

“The Numbers”

 

FADE IN:

 

EXT A HIGHWAY WITH A GREEN SIGN

 

Sign reads “Cielo/Population 9221”

 

A HIGHWAY WORKER comes and paints over the 21 and replaces it with a 19.

 

SCENE 2  

 

EXT A MIDDLE SCHOOL PARKING LOT ANY TIME IN 20TH CENTURY

 

INT CLASSROOM

 

Attractive young female teacher cleans the chalk board and then begins to gather her things

 

KAMRY

Don’t they have people for that darling?

 

MOLLY

Heavens!! 

 

Throws everything she has up in the air…looks up, sighs when she sees Kamry.

 

Sorry to be so vulgur.  You scared the dickens out of me.

 

Kamry gets down on all fours with Molly and starts to help her pick up her things, recoils when he touches some female sanitary product.

 

Oh just. Let me do it.

 

KAMRY

Recovers.  Stands up. 

 

Well I tell you, you can count yourself one lucky fiancé because tomorrow morning I am taking you to the bicentennial lunch of the Cielo Majorettes and I can tell you, Ms Morgan, it is an exclusive affair…

 

MOLLY

Oh. Kamry, actually, I have other plans…

 

KAMRY

(smarts) Other plans?!  Other plans?, ha…well…..what?

 

MOLLY

I can’t have other plans?

 

KAMRY

No. Of course, you can have other plans.  I’m not saying you can’t have other plans.  It’s just.  I’m curious.  I mean this is town has all of 50 people in it…

 

MOLLY

You exaggerate…Fine.  I thought I’d go to the Maltby place and take a poke around.  I’m quit intrigued.

 

KAMRY

What? Now Molly the last thing I need is you running off with some cult.  I don’t know what goes on up there and I don’t want….

 

MOLLY

Oh, come off it, Kamry, a cult?  Don’t ge…

 

KAMRY

Well, c’mon, Molly.  Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed. 

 

MOLLY

Noticed what?

 

KAMRY

The shoes?!. I mean kids wear shoes in San Francisco, don’t they?

 

MOLLY

I mean. Yes. The vast majority of them. 

 

KAMRY

Ha!  Yeah right.  Children in the city go barefoot like a knot of rapscallions and my father isn’t president of Broward Machine!

 

MOLLY

Well…no. I mean there is actually this kind of….uuuhhh…agitation…errr…movement…of young people….who…I don’t know for whatever reason…they just…

 

KAMRY

I’ll hear nothing more of it.  Now, Molly Morgan, I’m dead serious.  The people in this town have worked hard to make it the precious little picket fence garden you so enjoy…and this…this Maltby beggar…well….he’s.  He’s an insult to my father and my family!  Have you heard?

 

MOLLY

What difference does it make to you if Junius Maltby doesn’t want to go to work in the Broward factory?

 

KAMRY

It’s not just that…

 

MOLLY

And so what if he doesn’t want to trim his lawn and perfect little square like the rest of Cielo.  This is exactly why I cam ehere, Kamry!....is to get away from people trying to tell me how to be…

 

KAMRY

I’m not trying to tell you how to be, but this Maltby character is weird! 

 

MOLLY

Well…well, I don’t think weirdness ever hurt anybody.

 

KAMRY

I don’t know that that’s true.  I mean, he could brain wash you, molly, just like he’s brain washed himself.  Just like he’s brainwashed that Jack and half the kids in this town!

 

MOLLY

Your penchant for hyperbole is treacherous.

 

KAMRY

I’m not hyperbole…this is no hyperbole!  Kids walking around barefoot?! Why just the other day a kid used a word on me…what was it?...nef…nefarious!...in what town in what corner of America are kids running around without shoes using words like nefarious, I ask you?  What possible use?

 

MOLLY

(Coldly)

There’s a difference between creativeness and immorality, I believe.

 

KAMRY

Well, who am I talking to.  You ARE their teacher, after all.  I mean you’re the one who lets the rascals run around in rags without shoes on! In November!

 

MOLLY

Why not?

 

KAMRY

Why not?! Why not?!  Because people don’t walk around without shoes on.  Because there’s frost on the ground.  Because you’re job is to teach them better!

 

MOLLY

But it makes them happy.

 

KAMRY

Well, I think children’s health is more important than their happiness.

 

MOLLY

Well, you’ve put you’re finger on it, Kamry Munroe.  That is the difference between people like you and people like me.

 

KAMRY

People like you and people like me? That’s nonsense.  We’re going to be married.  Where going to be…family. 

 

MOLLY

Says nothing.

 

KAMRY

Molly?...Molly?  What are you…?

 

END SCENE

 

“The Town”

FADE IN

 

INT HALLWAY

 

SERIES OF SHOTS

 

A)Camera pans down the hallway with identical doors and comes to Ms. Morgan’s door. 

C) Ms. Morgan inside of apartment putting on a corduroy skirt.

D) Ms. Morgan is putting on hiking boots. 

 

SCENE 4 

FADE IN

 

EXT BOUNDARY BETWEEN FOREST AND TOWN

 

SERIES OF SHOTS

A)   Ms Morgan is carrying a lunch box and standing at the abrupt divide between the woods and the town. 

B)   The camera follows her gaze as she looks up at the woods and the down the road, which disappears into darkness or around a bend

C)   Ms Morgan starting to walk into the woods. 

D)   Ms Morgan in the woods.  A stream babbles.  The branches and twigs crack loudly. 

E)   Muffled sound of voices. Ms Morgan runs expectantly around curve in the road. 

F)    Next stretch of empty road.

 

FADE OUT

 

The Gate”

 

FADE IN

 

EXT THE ROAD

 

SERIES OF SHOTS

 

A)   Ms. Morgan looks more tired and disheveled than before. 

B)   A fence and yard to a property which displays signs of neglect.  The sounds of birds and other animals are almost deafening.

C)   A cottage with other charming signs of neglect. 

D)   Ms Morgan gasps appreciatively. 

E)   A wicket gate hanging by one hinge

F)    Ms Morgan goes through it. 

G)   Ms Morgan’s face as she stops and looks horrified.

H)   The front yard of the house.  There is an old man bound up to a post.  Next to it a younger man is piling brush at the bottom of the post.

I)     The younger man diligently piles in high speed

J)     Ms Morgan’s head goes back and forth like someone watching tennis in high speed.

K)   Ms. Morgan backs behind the side of the house and watches.

 

“The Execution”

 

EXT FRONT YARD OF MALTBY HOUSE

 

MOLLY

This doesn’t happen.  You’re dreaming.  This. Doesn’t. Happen.

 

JUNIUS

It’s nearly ten.

 

JACK

Yes, and be careful when you set that bush on fire.  Make sure they’re coming before you light it.

 

MOLLY

(Let’s out a huge sigh of relief.  She walks timidly out from behind the tree or the house.)

 

JUNIUS

(Turns toward her, surprised.  Bows, ceremoniously.)

 

MOLLY

I’m… I’m the teacher…I was just out for a walk…and…oh god..for a moment I thought this execution was serious.

 

JUNIUS

Oh but it is serious.   It’s more serious than you think. For a moment, I thought you were the rescue.  The relief is at ten o’clock you know

 

Junius motions to a clock or watch.  The camera shows the clock striking ten.There is a barking of dogs.

 

JUNIUS

That will be the relief.  Pardon me, Ms. Morgan, is it?  I am Junius Maltby and this gentleman on ordinary days is Jakob Sutz.  Today, though, he is John F Kennedy and he is being burned at the stake by Nazis.  For a time, we thought he’d be Marilyn Monroe, but he makes a better president, don’t you think?  Besides he refused to wear a bra.

 

JACK

Damn foolishness

 

MOLLY

May I watch the rescue, Mr. Maltby?

 

JUNIUS

I am not Mr. Maltby.  I am 300 Nazis. (dogs bark) Over by the steps.  You won’t be taken for a Nazi and massacred over there.

 

A branch in the surrounding forest shakes strangely.  Junius strikes a match on his shoulder and lights the brush.  All of the branches move as kids camouflaged in branches rush forward, screaming, wielding tons of haphazardly-gathered household implements.  They kick the fire over and line up triumphantly.

 

“The Yard”

 

FADE IN THE YARD

 The boys are in a line.  (unius is walking down the line and pinning a leaden slug with the word “hero” scratched into it on the front of each boys’ overalls.

 

ROBBIE

Next Saturday, we hang the guilty villains who have attempted this dastardly plot!

 

ANOTHER KID

Why not now?  Let’s hang ‘em now!

 

 STEP 3: LOGLINE


A young rural teacher from the city decides to foresake her betrothal to the town's highest ranking member--the son of the factory president--on a whim.  She is curious about things and people that he warns her against. 

 

 

 

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