A photographer pays a house-call to shoot a family portrait where his true talent becomes apparent.
Photographs, those treasured mementos of our lives – they can chart a life from birth through to adulthood, and beyond. We keep photos in our wallets, in lockets around our necks, in photo-frames by our bedside tables. Photographs allow us to freeze moments – to travel back in time.
The Gifted Photographer is set towards the end of the Victorian era. At first glance it conjures Great Britain, but America had its own Gilded Age, most notably in the regions of New England and the Deep South. Think Gothic Architecture, the Women’s Suffragette Movement, Republican domination, and literary greats such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. This was also a period characterized by high society and strict morality.
Ian J. Courter manages beautifully to evoke the images of the time – the cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages and top-hats.
Photography at this time was in its infancy – there was no such thing as the ‘Selfie’ and no such thing as Instagram or Snapchat. The taking of photographs, in particular portraits, was only ever done for special occasions.
The story opens on Michael Houtman, the titular photographer of the piece. Herbert and Margaret Jaffe have requested his services for a very special family portrait with their daughter, Linda. Michael strikes up a conversation with Linda and discovers this sweet young woman suffered a nasty spill on the ice a few months ago. The accident has left her sickly and confined to a wheelchair, but this morning she wakes to a perfect Spring day feeling better than she has in a long time – and she’s ready for her close-up.
But this is no ordinary day, no ordinary photo-shoot, and no ordinary photographer…
Far be it for me to shed too much light, or bring into focus the darker themes and rich cultural history explored in The Gifted Photographer, suffice to say the Latin phrases Ars moriendi and Memento mori both give clues into a not so well known practice explored in this unique tale.
Of course, all you have to do to find out more is read the script. You’ll not only discover the secret talent The Gifted Photographer possesses, but will also uncover the talent of writer Ian J. Courter.
With an ending that will stay with you long after the lights come up (we recommend reading it at night) and a final sting in the tail you won’t see coming, we advise you to get The Gifted Photographer in the can quick as a flash, before somebody else snaps it up.
Budget: A little will be needed to make this one period. But given what you get in the return, it’s definitely worth it!
About the writer: Ian J. Courter has an academic and technical-writing background, and is published in both fields, so a shift to another form of writing seemed natural. He strives to combine his writing skills with nearly two decades of military experience to develop screenplays with vivid locations and in-depth, realistic characters. What started as a hobby quickly became a passion. In only a few short years, he has written three feature-length screenplays and nine short scripts. He currently has several feature-length scripts in various stages of development and continually seeks inspiration for more. His email address is ian.j.courter “at” gmail.com.
About the reviewer: L. Chambers has been writing all her life – especially in her head, and on scraps of paper. It’s only in the last few years she began to get serious about screen-writing. Prior to this she worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, and trained as a FAD. She currently works as a freelance web-content editor and lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia.
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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.