Head In The Clouds by Josh McDonald
A young boy with an overactive imagination gets it in his head to try for a real-life adventure. But can he pull it off? And even if he does, will anyone believe him?
It is a screenwriter’s job to hook you from the first page, to transport you to another world, introduce you to characters you instantly care about and weave a story you can immerse yourself in.
Mid Summer… A quiet coastal road winds its way through gnarled trees and craggy rocks… the ocean visible beyond… This is Wyeth country…
Josh McDonald hooked me right off the bat with his opening description of Head In The Clouds. In fact, he had me in the palm of his hand the whole way through – and I wasn’t about to let go.
Martinsville Maine, circa 1955, small town America, where the characters look ‘like they wandered in from a Norman Rockwell painting.’
Enter: Johnny and Stevie, two twelve year old boys, and best friends, who couldn’t be more like chalk and cheese. While Stevie has his feet firmly planted on the ground Johnny lives in a rich fantasy world.
50s America is a quieter time, a place where kids are allowed to roam unsupervised. Though he’s growing up Johnny still lets his imagination reign supreme, something as ordinary as a stick can be transformed into a sword to be engaged in ‘swashbuckling swordplay’, likewise a discarded hubcap can magically morph into the ‘Discus of Achilles’.
Endless summer days are spent idling along the coastline until sundown, the highlight of the day culminating at the business end of town with pocket money to be spent on penny-candies purchased from the General Store.
Something’s different about today though, and that something is ‘parked behind the store at the town’s main dock.’ Johnny believes it could be the perfect opportunity for adventure. Stevie however, is quick to point out there are some things in life kids are just not allowed to do, certain activities reserved only for ‘important people…’ In fact he tells Johnny in no uncertain terms, ‘you buy too many books’ – translation: you need to get your head out of the clouds and come back down to earth.
But the seed of an idea has already been sown. Spending a lot of time inside your own head and alongside fictional characters in books will have that effect. Johnny knows there’s a bigger wider world out there full of adventure and he thinks it’s about time he experienced some of it.
Is Johnny’s dream about to become a reality, or will he come plummeting back to earth?
Head In The Clouds is a beautifully written and lyrical coming of age story with richly drawn characters.
Filmmakers, isn’t it high time you spread your wings and turned your own dream into a reality? Want to produce pure poetry in motion, perhaps inject a little of your own Malick-like magic into the landscape of this one? Look no further than Head In The Clouds.
Budget: Reserve a bit to do this right. Though plane scenes could be artfully edited with stock footage… thereby reserving the rest for actors that make this work!
About the Writer: Josh McDonald is a writer, actor, cartoonist, & filmmaker living in Vermont. He can be reached in the Clouds. Specifically, at josh-mcdonald (a) comcast.net
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.