My first action step for the One April in Boston Movie Project was creating three videos to introduce the book and Philip Edwards’ story to people in the film industry. You can view those videos at MovieGoal.com. My second action step was writing a series of blog posts that would provide additional background on Philip Edwards. Those 10 blog posts, written between September 9 and October 4, 2015 appear beneath this one. My third action step was locating a screenwriter willing to read both my book and supporting materials and give me his/her opinion on its potential for being turned into a feature film or made-for-TV movie (my goal). I ended up selecting New York based screenwriter Diana Amsterdam — “The Best Kept Secret in Brooklyn.” Diana reviewed everything I provided and sent me the following email on October 19, 2015:
I’ve read the book and reviewed all your materials. It’s a powerful story and I’m very impressed with your diligence and passion. You have stopped at nothing, turned over every stone, and, as you put it, completed an entire puzzle that otherwise would have been lost.
Is One April in Boston or related stories the stuff of a screenplay, or made-for-TV movie? Not quite.
Your decision to place the story in the present time is a good one; and to go back in time as flashbacks. Very smart. However, what is the current story? The story of Phil is a century old. The only story here that is current is…you. Your passion is the heart of all of this, in a way. Even more important, it’s the fodder for a story based in our time, making it much more marketable, and much more desirable.
Historical stories are very difficult to get made. The reason is cost. It costs more to set a story in another era, a lot more.
Yet I’m not quite seeing the story of you and your fascination–here, I don’t think we do have all the puzzle pieces. I’d have to know more, a lot more, to help you craft this into something marketable.
And, there is a deeper challenge. You see, a dramatic story must have conflict. It can’t be a lesson; it can be, but only through the lens of struggle and the overcoming of obstacles. Great stories are quests. There are dragons, either real or metaphorical. As a lesson for children this has great merit but how would that translate into entertainment for a larger audience?
As things stand, everyone in the tale is good. This may be the way it was but…I doubt it. There is one place where the preacher at Phil’s reburying in the U.S. says something about all that he must have gone through. Surely a boy in his early twenties would be afraid, going to war? Even heroes are afraid. Surely he would be conflicted about leaving his sweetheart. Surely someone in his life didn’t want him to go–and argued, fought.
Young people today are very sophisticated. They embrace stories of conflict and struggle. They are aware of themes such as bullying and injustice. The day of the all-good hero is…over, I’m afraid. In order to make this a worthy marketable story, we would need to find a hook. Install an antagonist. Connect the themes (such as going to war, always an important theme) to our own current times. Or, we could use the spyglass, possibly, as a metaphor for a gift of seeing the future that is valuable and worthy but also frightening at times.
You see what I’m getting at?
I’d be happy to work with you further on this but you’d need to be willing to crack the egg, as they say. Otherwise, there is a show on Travel Channel called “Mysteries at the Museum” (and its spinoff, “Mysteries at the Monument”) that deals with just such a tale as this. This show is accurate historically and often deals with true-life heroes in a tone I think you’d like.
If there is a relic in any museum that relates to your story, or a monument anywhere, I would recommend bringing them the story. Not quite the path you’re looking down but one that may have potential for you.
Or, there are screenplay contests and film festivals that deal specifically with spiritually-uplifting works. You might want to fashion a story for one of them. You’d still have to install conflict and struggle, though!
Let me know if you’d like to explore further. I wish you luck with a most fascinating look into a great history.
Hope this helps.
All my best,
Ben’s Note: If you are a teacher reading this as part of the unit “Goal Setting for Children” featured on our Products page, ask your students how they would react to the feedback above. Will there be a Brooklyn connection on my journey? You’ll read my reply to Diana in the next blog post.