Tag Archives: screenwriting

Dear Sir, (Letters to a Union Soldier)

Dear Sir, (Letters to a Union Soldier)

20 minute non-traditional narrative. 

by, Jessica Lakis & Michael Mullan

DEAR SIR traces the interconnected stories of a Civil War soldier and a modern young man who shares his name as they struggle with both their common dreams and individual fates.

The impetus for DEAR SIR began when film-maker Michael Mullan discovered a gravestone at the Gettysburg National Cemetery that bore his name. Further research into archives revealed the historical Lt. Michael Mullin to be an Irish immigrant who once lived in Mullan’s old neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Finding this coincidence too great, Mullan and Jessica Lakis set out to create a way for the two men to communicate over time. This resulted in the creation of a “journal” for Lt. Mullin. Writer and co-director/producer, Jessica Lakis, based her writing of his fictitious “journal” on available biographical information, research into the Irish experience of emigration and  the American Civil War, and contemporary writing samples.  The result of this effort often misleads viewers as to the journal’s authenticity.

Filmed mainly in Pennsylvania on a shoe-string budget, DEAR SIR went on to become the only selection of an under-graduate film at the 2000 Student Academy Awards. Among other honors, as well as local and national airing, “Dear Sir,(Letters to a Union Soldier)” continues to catch the attention and hearts of all who watch it. A fitting tribute for a true labor of love.

 


The Blood Dharma: Synopsis

By, Jessica Lakis

Genre: Action-Adventure/Period

Logline: THE BLOOD DHARMA weaves an exotic tale of love, betrayal, and revenge set against the terror of the Indian Mutiny against the British.

Synopsis: Rajput warrior IKSANDER is left for dead at the foot of his beloved’s funeral pyre. Saved by a mysterious stranger, and aided by an unlikely band of confederates — he seeks vengeance on those responsible. THE BLOOD DHARMA is part John Ford/Kurosawa yarn and part David Lean period adventure. The main drama and conflict arise from the clash of the worlds of the native rajputs and that of the British East India Company.

Iksander is a military leader from a noble line He lives to serve his lord, THE RAJAH, but his heart belongs to the Rajah’s sister RADHA. His preordained world is torn from him when the fearful Rajah agrees to sacrifice Iksander’s  life for a treaty with an ambitious East India Company agent to ensure his title. With Iksander left for dead, Radha kills herself in grief. An Untouchable and a mysterious man who live in the mountains rescue Iksander from death. Iksander’s life as a dutiful servant is replaced by the desire for revenge. But Iksander’s journey will do more than test his strength; his beliefs, views on duty and caste, and even his selfish quest must all be challenged if he is to achieve vengeance.

JAMES STUART CAMPBELL is an agent of the quasi-military British East India Company. Unlike the nobly born Iksander,  James has relied on his intellect and cunning to rise to his position in life. He is tasked to make favorable trading terms with the Rajah’s opium-rich kingdom or annex it. From his residence, complete with British-style furnishings and rose bushes, capturing the kingdom is a chess game with the reward of advancement and wealth if he wins. His only human care — frighteningly so — is for his niece and ward, YOUNG ALICE, who he calls his “pet.” But Young Alice is seventeen, and as she begins to become aware of life outside her isolated world with her Uncle, grows harder for James to bend to his will — the first crack in shattering his illusion of control.

Framed as NARRATOR/ALICE’s reminiscences to her daughter later in life, Alice is the bridge, the frame, and our access to both worlds. A chance encounter at a train station brings up disturbing questions about her past and experience of the horrific Indian Mutiny against the British. Alice mixes the legend of Iksander with her own first-hand knowledge to weave the stories, the fates of the characters, and their worlds together — a tale of love, betrayal, destiny, and revenge in the lost world of colonial India.


My “About Me”

One year out of college I was literally thanking the Academy. I got up on that stage and dedicated my award to my recently passed father then went back to my life in Philly. I’ve been working every moment since to get back there.

Maybe I needed the life experience to grow as a writer. After all, as Holden Caulfield observed, writing is not a just knowing where to put the commas. I traveled. Spent three years in Costa Rica teaching English and translating. But, perhaps in a “pura vida” backlash, when I decided to come home, I did so with hardened intent.

I left my husband. Even moved in with Gertrude and Claudius for a time. I got a temp job where I froze in a dusty receiving office in a drug-infested North Philly neighborhood. But I finished a new screenplay. A revenge story. And it’s done well.

I’ve got two screenplays in the works right now. I still live in a bug-ridden, third floor walk-up apartment on one of South Philly‘s louder corners. I keep my dog, plants, books, music, movies and a handsome marine about me like insulation. And often think of a story I heard about my man J. Caesar. His dad died when he was young. Though he came from a good family, they weren’t rich. So he was always in debt as well.

Anyway, on his 32nd birthday, he was stationed in some mud hole in Spain, without prospect of even seeing Rome again, and he wept. He wept because Alexander had conquered the world by his age. He contemplated a good Roman end to it all. Twenty years later he had Gaul under his boot and was on his way to the world’s first, and most famous, point of no return by a stream called Rubicon. His life and death would change the world.

I’m not out for conquest and power, nor do I think the history of the world will hinge on my stay here, but I like the story. There’s a point in there somewhere. Alea iacta esto.


%d bloggers like this: