Best Scene Screenplay Reading of REACH FOR THE SKY by Eric Carlson

Watch the November 2016 Winning Best Scene Screenplay.

Best Scene from REACH FOR THE SKY Screenplay


NARRATOR – Andrea Lawrence
BUCK – Cory Bertrand
JONES – Vince Jerad
GHAN – Peter-Mark Raphael
LIZZY – Cassandra Guthrie


Genre: Family, Drama, Biography

In 1964, a young idealistic industrial arts teacher accepts a teaching job in a small rural Missouri high school where he defies the status quo and motivates a group of poor performing students to build an airplane that he promises to fly.

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Based on a true story: In 1964, a young idealistic industrial arts teacher (Bill Ghan) accepts a teaching job in a small rural Missouri high school where he defies the status quo and motivates a group of poor performing students to build an airplane that he promises to fly.

As a footnote, Bill Ghan still lives in Missouri, and although he has retired from teaching, he still inspires young people through his participation in his local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter where he continues to build and restore airplanes.

What genres does your screenplay under?

Inspirational True Story/Biopic/Drama/Family

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

I believe this story shows there are heroes in all walks of life. A young school teacher – Bill Ghan – challenges his students to do something they did not believe possible – build a fully functional airplane – and then he showed his absolute faith in their efforts by flying it.

And 50 years later over 100 high schools nationwide have an aviation program like the one he started. That was never his original intent, but his efforts turned out to be a great catalyst to create greater opportunities for high school students. His success was then discovered by others and emulated throughout the country.

Bill Ghan’s story needs to be told to show us ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Quietly inspirational

What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

To Kill a Mockingbird – an extraordinary film

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I began this project in October 2015. The editing continues to this day.

How many stories have you written?

About 30 screenplays. Some have done very well, others were quietly placed on the shelf because the promise of the premise wasn’t quite achieved.

What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I believe the stories of what I call “quiet heroes” like Bill Ghan need to be told to show others that success does not have to be measured in epic proportions. Throughout his career, Mr. Ghan made a difference in thousands of high school student’s lives, one student at a time. And it started with one bold idea, implemented back in 1964; that idea later changed the course of high school curricula throughout the country.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The initial draft was relatively easy. The editing has been the most challenging – trying to tighten the story and ensure the story-line flowed seamlessly from start to finish. It goes on to this day.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Music and travel. I play the drums, which is my other creative release.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

First, keep writing. Producers will inevitably ask “what else do you have?”, so you need a stack of completed, polished scripts you can offer. Personally, my goal has been to develop and write at least one new script a year – and I have been able to stick with my goal for the past ten years.

Second, enter contests to measure your script against others – especially ones with feedback. If your script does well, then you are probably on to something good. If not, rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, move on. Accept the fact your premise isn’t working.

Keep a list of projects you’d like to develop. That way you’re never worried about what you will do next. (So many stories, so little time is my motto.)

Join a screenwriting group, or start one. You’d be surprised how feedback and interaction with fellow writers helps your own writing. I have been a member of the Virginia Screenwriting Forum for over 10 years, and I credit any success I have achieved to my fellow VSF writers who provide inspiration and encouragement.


Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

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