Watch the October 2016 Winning Short Screenplay.
Written by Jade Syed-Bokhari
Get to know the winning writer:
What is your screenplay about?
LOGLINE: As an apocalyptic asteroid heads to earth, a bereaved father hunts down his child’s killer; so dead or alive, his family is together to face the end.
With a world-ending asteroid on the way to earth, Joe Bleeker, a Professor of Latin, digs huge holes in the woods. He tortures and later begs a wealthy older man, (a pedophile and murderer), to tell him where he buried the body of his young daughter, Tessie. With demise imminent, the only thing Joe cares about is being together, as a family, to face the end of the world – even if one of them is already dead and the others are on Skype.
If the world is ending, then morals and norms might vanish and be replaced with an overpowering urge to fulfill the deepest, gnawing need. In Together, it is Professor Joe Bleeker’s overwhelming need to be with his family.
What genres does your screenplay under?
Dark Drama, Neo-Noir, Psychological Thriller, Horror, End of The World
Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
It’s cinematic, emotionally nuanced dark fairytale that plays upon every parents’ fear of the very worst of what can happen, to your child, to your family and to your marriage and puts that in an end of the world context.
I’m drawn to the beauty of filming at night to bring out the richness of the pathos with cinematography. I love sound, the different accents of; Joe’s Professorial Latin, Queen Elizabeth’s received pronunciation strained by the overwhelm of global death, the nihilism of the Prime Minister’s failure and the goading of the child killer, (who I haven’t deigned to give a name), all contrasting with the emotional pain and loss of Alice, Joe’s wife, Tessie’s mother and the sweet childish worry and glee of Ellie, the daughter who’s being brought up so far away in Australia that she’s absorbed the accent. It’s an aural note embodying the emotional and physical distance from her father’s perfect English diction.
There’s also subtext about global politicians utterly futile attempts creating a world of peace, and safety. I believe these are all great elements for a rich and textured film.
How would you describe this script in two words?
What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
Kind Hearts and Coronets
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I’ve been tinkering with it over a couple of months in between writing a dramedy feature.
How many stories have you written?
I’ve written five feature scripts and written many short stories since childhood.
What motivated you to write this screenplay?
I originally wrote this as a two-page script for a London Screenwriters’ Festival initiative. The givens were; the world is about to end, what do people do in their last few hours and make us feel.
As there has recently been an avalanche of old 1970s cases of pedophilia uncovered in the UK, I explored that and the end of the world scenario of how far you’d stop behaving with social conventions and your own moral code and I excavated a raw, emotional pain that festers in the ruins of a life and family.
Child murder is extreme horror. What would that do a parent? A marriage? Without the constraints of legal and moral norms, aren’t Joe Bleeker’s actions understandable and relatable? Does the loss of a child ever heal? I wanted to look at these emotions.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I wondered if I’d gone too far and wrestled with how far I could push it.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Directing. I think this short is cinematic and visceral. I think you can see it and feel it and I will direct it.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Don’t ever stop learning or reading. The ‘What If’ is the most powerful kick to the imagination. Use it religiously it works.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Casting: Sean Ballantyne
Editing: John Johnson