Friday, March 16, 2007

An Excerpt from my Screenplay "The Angels of Highway 7"

INT. PASTOR DAVID'S OFFICE - DAY

[Deeply moved out of concern for Galvin, David has just finished telling Galvin his long-held secret: the three angel encounters. Galvin's reaction is NOT what David expected.]

GALVIN
Wow! I'm so glad you told me about all that. I can help you now!

DAVID
Help me with what?

GALVIN
C'mon, David, you can do better than Harksville. Look at this wall!
(gestures to framed diplomas on office wall)
You're smart. You're an awesome public speaker. You're a natural born leader with amazing time management skills. You've got that cracker-jack wife and three beautiful sons. You're worth far more than this. You could have one of those (what are they called?) ...mega-churches! And you look pretty good on camera, so you could even swing a television ministry. If you want, I could get you the heck out of this crummy little town in six weeks, maybe less. I could start you off on the talk-radio circuit. Then, on the basis of those three angel stories, I could get you a book deal--maybe even a movie deal. This is what I do. I'm a promotional expert. I can help you!

DAVID
What makes you think I even want any of that?

GALVIN
Doesn't everyone in your profession aspire to making it into the big time of mega-churches and TV ministries? C'mon! Admit it! You've DREAMED of your own TV show.

DAVID
No! I haven't! Being a pastor has nothing to do with being on TV! A pastor deals with people. Their lives. Their pain. I can't help people if I can't see them or touch them and if they can't touch me back! There's no such thing as a relationship with a TV screen. People can't call a TV screen for advice, or cry on a TV screen's shoulder.

GALVIN
Well, that's what makes the web so much better. It's interactive.

DAVID
(Dear Lord!) No, Galvin! I don't want any part of a media promotion of me!

GALVIN
But don't you want to better yourself? Make a name for yourself?

DAVID
MY NAME ISN'T IMPORTANT!

GALVIN
We can MAKE your name important! Not capitalizing on your own strengths is just a little crazy in my estimation!

DAVID
Galvin, before you go any further with this ..... "magnanimous offer" .... I need to ask: what's in it for you?

GALVIN
..... What do you mean?

DAVID
What are YOU gonna get out of all this? Am I supposed to cut you a percentage? Am I some commodity to be exploited?

GALVIN
No ... it's not like that at all.

DAVID
Then why are you so interested in turning my life completely upside down and re-ordering it to your liking?

GALVIN
It's just that ... you and Donna mean the world to Percy. She told me everything you guys did for her and I just wanna ... pay you back some how. I was just trying to help. I'm sorry if I offended you.

DAVID
Look, I appreciate your good intentions, but I need to ask you a question that I think I already know the answer to, but here goes: when was the last time you earned any money for yourself as a promotional expert?

GALVIN
I get regular monthly installments from prior clients who pay me on scale.

DAVID
But at the moment, you're not earning a dime. Our town contracted your consultation services for just four days, and that was a whole month ago. After four days you were supposed to finish your evaluation and then leave. And yet here it is, a month later, and you're STILL here in this crummy little town, performing services for us, even though we already told you we couldn't pay you past that four day evaluation. So you're working for free, Galvin. My question is, why are you doing this?

Galvin can't answer.

DAVID
Is it because you're in love with Percy? And you've been in love with her from the first day you met her. And you'd give up anything--even a whole month's wages--just to stay here and be with her?

Galvin still can't answer.

DAVID
Some people would say that's kinda crazy. But love usually makes you do things that seem crazy to others. And I'm here in this crummy job, in this crummy church, in this crummy town, for pretty much the same reasons. This is a labor of love and I couldn't walk away from this job any more than I could walk away from my wife. It's love that holds me here.

GALVIN
... Love of who? ... Of what?

DAVID
Of God. My love for God. His love for me. His love of the people of this town through me. And my own homegrown love of this town.

GALVIN
I really don't understand that kind of love.

DAVID
If it's any consolation, neither do I. But I promise you it's real. And I'm not the only one. Do you have any idea how many of my colleagues and classmates from Bible college and seminary are that much MORE talented than I am? More gifted? More educated? Better looking? Stronger in public speaking? More adept at time-management? Superior in organizational and leadership skills? Half of them are easilly qualified to be top executives in Fortune 500 companies. And yet the vast majority of them have equally crummy jobs with equally crummy pay. There's a whole army of us clergy professionals out there walking around with world-class educations that cost us anywhere from eighty-thousand to two-hundred-thousand dollars per person, and yet less than twelve percent of us are earning more than sixty grand a year.

GALVIN
...Then ... your entire profession sounds like a pathetic waste of an otherwise high quality segment of humanity.

DAVID
A drug addict is a pathetic waste of humanity. A prostitute is a pathetic waste of humanity. A woman whose ex-husband beats her so severely that she needs reconstructive surgery on her nose and left cheek-bone is a pathetic waste of humanity. But rescuing people out of those wastelands is what this kind of love is about. And that might seem crazy to you, but that's usually how love works.

5 comments:

Joel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eucharisto said...

Hey! Joel C from A&F. Great stuff! I really enjoyed the dialogue. Very smooth, conversational. I'd love to know the context of the story.

Sheila West said...

Hi Joel from A&F

Thanks for dropping in! Sorry--I've been away all week and am only just catchig up on my blog today. So I totally missed your comments.

I am going to be posting the entire script on the net this weekend. But it's kinda ......... long. Too long, in fact.

The context of the story is:

The small Southwestern desert town of Harksville hires a development speicalist, Galvin West, to help revitalize their economy after the local army base shuts down. He attempts to make suggestions for nostalgia tourism and real estate development, but then a mafia interest covertly steps in and tries to coerce him into convincing the townspeople to vote for a casino. While driving late at night back to the town to warn the town leaders that the Mob wants to move in, he stumbles upon a trailer home fire and is mistaken for an angel by the elderly wheelchair-bound woman he rescues from the blaze. As she testifies to everyone about the goodness of God in sending an angel to save her, old newspaper archives get unearthed to reveal prior angel sightings on the highway back in the 30's and 40's. This gives rise to a new string of alleged angel sightings all over the area, and when the national news media finds out, the town finds itself on the way to economic recovery, accidentally becoming the Roswell, New Mexico of angel-hunters with a booming tourist trade. This sudden angel-mania causes theological and pastoral problems within the flocks of two local clergymen: a Catholic priest (Father Lorenzo) and a Protestant minister (Pastor David Brown), one of whom harbors a well-kept secret of having himself encountered real angels at multiple points during his life. Galvin remains in town, hiding his shameful secret of the Mob's interest in the town, and pursuing a love interest with a local shop owner. But the Mob soon catches up with him and is ready to deal him their wrath.

andrew said...

i also liked your dialogue. when i first read it, i found myself wondering whether the gavin character was acting sincerely and for the sake of good or whether he was more of a mephistopheles character. because of the latter thought, i kinda' expected the pastor character to crumble and say "well, okay, fame and fortune does sound kind of nice...," so i was happily surprised by the direction it wound up taking.

i notice that you (or your profile) have the same last name as the main character--is this somehow autobiographical?

Sheila West said...

Thanks, Andrew.

My real name isn't Sheila West. It's just my pen name. I invented the name for Galvin because I wanted a name that was kinda short (just four letters long) and very American sounding (but not overtly so). And when I needed to make up a pen name for myself last month, "West" sounded pretty cool after the name "Sheila," and would probably play well when one reads it during the opening credits of a film.

As for anything being autobiographical, I have more of myself in the female lead (Percy Winters) and also a little bit of me in a male supporting character named Carl Jenkins (he is a professional carpenter, the local volunteer fire chief, and one of the elders in the church, as well as David's best friend there in town).

A few things about Galvin are similar to me on some levels:

1) I also am from New England
2) I also grew up Catholic
3) I also mistakenly commented (not to his face but to some friends after they took me to their Protestant church for the first time) that a particularly good guest speaker they had in church that day was so awesome, so good-looking, so intelligent, etc., that he could probably swing a TV ministry of his own one day. My Protestant friends were aghast, and I naively defended myself by saying: "Isn't that what ALL preachers aspire to?" (A week later, I "got saved" and have since learned otherwise what it is that pastors are really all about.)