Genre: Drama, War, Thriller, Family
Logline: An American teenager struggles to believe in his German American father, a controversial writer accused of being a Nazi spy, only to discover they are more alike than he ever imagined.
NARRATION: Julie C. Sheppard
Attorney Fritz – Peter Nelson
Cohen – Sean Ballantyne
Robert – Trevor Marlatt
Pretty woman – Katelyn Vanier
Get to know the writer:
- What is the screenplay about?
Logline: When a German immigrant faces deportation during WWII for alleged Nazi ties, his combative teenage son takes on the FBI and struggles to keep the family together.
Drawing parallels to the prejudice and profiling in post 9/11 America, FOOTSTEPS OF MY FATHER is an untold story of WWII, exposing egregious violations of civil liberties by government with striking relevance to every American’s relationship to their government today. The screenplay is based on a true story and adapted from my book, “Loyalty on Trial: One American’s Battle with the FBI.”
The story begins in 1942 and is told from the point of view of Kai, the impetuous native-born teenage son of Arthur, a naturalized citizen, who is targeted by the FBI as disloyal for his alleged pro-Hitler writings in the mid 1930’s. Kai’s secret “Blue Notebook” of poems and commentary serves as an outlet for his anger and frustration.
Kai naively assumes that justice will win out. Instead, his trust that the system works equally for all is tested. and his entire family is torn apart. He sees his normal life of an American teenager spin out of control, and blames Arthur’s pride and his refusal to apologize to the judge.
Kai’s inability to understand his father’s commitment to his innocence, and Arthur’s unwillingness to back down or betray himself for any reason, even for his family, becomes a divisive force in the father-son relationship.
Once Arthur is incarcerated at Ellis Island and scheduled for deportation, Kai quits school to help his mother make do. Soon after, justice eludes Kai one more time, his mother, an enemy alien, is arrested and interned and Gabi, his childhood sweetheart, is deported with her family. With no hope in sight, he’s forced to survive on the streets of New York and care for his little sister.
Without any parental guidance, Kai turns to Arthur’s attorney and an elderly Jewish neighbor to help sort out his frustrations. Only then does Kai come to grips with his selfishness, reassess his own loyalties, begin his quest to save his father and ensure that the family’s good name is reestablished. At the same time, he must figure out who he truly is at heart, and what it is that he ultimately longs for.
After a former teacher discovers the Blue Notebook, Kai see the opportunity to channel his anger and utilize his writing talent to try and save his parents from deportation. With the teacher’s counseling, Kai argues for public support through letters to the editor and even makes an eleventh-hour desperate personal appeal to the Supreme Court for a reversal.
By the end of his personal journey, we see Kai as a hopelessly loyal young man who will stop at nothing to protect his family, friends, and country.
- What genre does your screenplay fall under?
Historic/Thriller/Coming of Age/War
- Why should this screenplay be turned into a movie?
Drawing parallels to the prejudice and profiling in post 9/11 America, FOOTSTEPS OF MY FATHER offers an untold story of WWII while exposing egregious violations of civil liberties by the government with striking relevance to every American’s relationship to their government today.
The screenplay is based on a true story and adapted from my book, “Loyalty on Trial: One American’s Battle with the FBI.” Actual historical events, characters, and dramatic action from WWII, including those from the Emmy nominated and acclaimed documentary “Children of Internment,” are the inspiration for this story.
This is a coming-of-age story that illuminates a dark period of America’s history by focusing on the human lives affected by government policies, rather than lecturing. By grounding the story in a teenager’s very real and relatable emotions, it delivers a powerful message that should resonate with audiences of all ages.
Despite a rising tide of xenophobia in America and abroad, the relevance of what happened nearly seventy-five years ago remains an untold story.
- How would you describe this screenplay in two words?
- What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
“Break the Stage” the movie is my first produced film. I wrote the screenplay and was executive producer. Expected release is mid-2018. I have watch “Break the Stage” countless times.
- How long have you been working on this screenplay?
My book, “Loyalty on Trial: One American’s Battle With the FBI” came out in 2004. I wrote the first draft of this screenplay, titled then as Loyalty on Trial, in 2005. Who works on a script for 12 years? One who has a passion for a script based on a true story of immigration that since 9-11 seems to be repeating itself. During this time, I wrote many other screenplays as well.
- How many stories have you written?
My resume lists twenty-six, nine of which were collaborations with various other writers.
- What is your favorite song?
Anything by James Taylor
- What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
The first obstacle was adapting a 430-page nonfiction book into a movie. The second would be not listening to the naysayers who said it’s a period piece. The third would be finding the right balance between the historical truth and dramatizing for maximum entertainment. And the ongoing obstacle is not to give up and let it go.
- Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Family, friends, politics, skiing, and tennis.
- You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
Very positive experience. User friendly process.
- What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
The opportunity to see a performance of pages from my script was the number one factor. Additionally, the chance for feedback is always attractive. In this case the feedback was extremely helpful and useful for my never-ending rewriting.
Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson
Camera Operator: Mary Cox