Bridges and Phone Numbers

I love research. So I am jazzed that my writing gives me many opportunities to do so. Usually I do all my research upfront before starting a script. For instance, I had to rule out using the Golden Gate Bridge as a location for it did not exist in 1928. It was being debated then, but construction didn’t even start until five years later.

But sometimes in the midst of writing I get stopped cold until I can answer a pertinent question.

That happened just recently (on this same project). I was typing along creating the dialogue for one of the characters. He was picking up the phone to make a call – and he has to speak the number he wants to the operator. Phone numbers in those days required an exchange that you would state upfront. So I needed one that would pass muster.

I opened my browser and went over to the Internet Archive, and there did a search in their text holdings, using the terms “1928” and “San Francisco.” Among the returns to this query was a city directory for San Francisco which was perfect for my need. I flipped through several pages and noted down several exchange names (Sutter, Kearney, Mission, Market, etc.), from which to choose later and just in case I need more than one.

And I ran across this one listing that seemed to shout, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Bridges and Phone Numbers

Rebel Treasure third post

Rebel Treasure third post

 INT. THE GATES’ HOME – NIGHT

The door opens and a column of light illumines the parquet floor. Ben strides in with determination , leaving Abigail to follow. She flips the light switch and looks anxiously after the retreating form of her husband.

BENS DEN

Ben heads straight to the bookshelf. He grabs the desk lamp, flicks it on, and twists the neck to direct the beam at a high shelf. He extracts a book that rests in a plastic bag atop several standing volumes.

He place it on the desk and redirects the lamp there and sits down.

Abigail slips into the room. While sliding the volume out of the plastic bag, he notices her.

                                                          BEN
Hon, go on to bed. I’m going to be up awhile.

She crosses to the desk.

                                                         ABIGAIL
Just one thing.

                                                        BEN
Are you going to nag?

                                                        ABIGAIL
Who me?  How could I compete with the monkey on your back?

                                                        BEN
That obvious?

                                                        ABIGAIL
Just remember you’re teaching in the morning.

                                                       BEN
(Holds up the book)
Alonzo’s journal. I’m just going to refresh my memory.

She turns to leave, but pause at the door.

                                                      ABIGAIL
If you think it makes a good bedtime story, why don’t you come read it to me, Daddy?

                                                      BEN
(Already absorbed)
Uh huh.

THE GATES’ KITCHEN – NEXT MORNING

Ben, outfitted in professorial garb, hovers over a griddle, sizzling with bacon and eggs. Satisfied that they’re done, he lifts the griddle and splits the contents between two plates.

                                                     BEN
Come and get it!

Abigail enters, dressed for the day, and takes a seat. He places her plate before her, and fetches his plate and a pot of coffee before sitting. He leans over the table and busses her cheek.

                                                    BEN
Good morning, wife!

                                                    ABIGAIL
Good morning, husband! Learn anything?

                                                    BEN
Alonzo wrote mostly mundane stuff dealing with his day to day doings as a rep for a Mississippi River freight company.

                                                    ABIGAIL
(Disappointed)
Oh.

                                                    BEN
But he did belong to the K.C.G.

                                                    ABIGAIL
The secret society that had a lot to do with the South seceding?

                                                    BEN
The very one, the Knights of the Golden Circle. After the war they went underground.

                                                    ABIGAIL
Plotting another war?

                                                   BEN
(Nodding)
Lon stated flat out that they were acquiring gold, silver, and weapons in vast quantities and stashing them in a whole string of depositories that they had established across the South and Southwest.

                                                   ABIGAIL
Any indication of where?

                                                   BEN
No. It seems that Lon did not leave the K.G.C. on good terms. He set up a few repositories of his own. I’m hoping to dig one of them up.

Her face a question mark, Abigail looks up from her breakfast.

For answer, Ben slides the open journal over to her. A stub of a page pokes out from between the other leaves.

                                                 BEN
I’m going to call my cousin Toby, who lives in the ancestral house, and ask if he can check for the missing page. It just might be a map.

                                                ABIGAIL
Cousin Toby? Just how many relatives have you got stashed away that I don’t know about?

                                                BEN
I don’t know. A dozen, maybe. Yes, a dozen at least in Oklahoma.

                                                ABIGAIL
I don’t understand, are you giving up on this submarine of yours, and going treasure hunting?

                                                BEN
Not at all. A log has never been found for the CSS Gray Whale. I’m betting that he put it with the rest of his valuables.

[next pt 4]

IMG_2298

As I stated in last Thursday’s post I had put in a couple of weeks brainstorming the story by the time I called my producer friend Howard on June 16, 2005. First, we chatted about the possibilities of a fourth Indiana Jones, as the rumor mill was then churning that a script was in the works. It was true, Howard told me – his friend George (yes, that George) wasn’t taking calls from anyone, and instead had locked himself away to write. Towards the end of our conversation I mentioned my ideas for a National Treasure sequel. This grabbed his attention. He told me he had been approached about a possible TV spin-off. And he encouraged me to get writing.
By June 20th, I started in on the actual writing during my morning commute. The next day a sequel for National Treasure was announced in the press. I contacted Howard later that day and asked if I should toss it in light of this news. His first impulse was to advise me to pull the plug. But on second consideration he thought it might prove worthwhile to keep going, if nothing more than to enhance my writing skills.
So I kept going, originally thinking I’d just try to see how far I’d get in thirty days. And I soon fell into a rhythm of reading on the morning bus and writing on the afternoon one. And I took to using a spreadsheet to collect and organize all my ideas for the plot.
I went beyond thirty days. By September 23 I was up to 63 pages (in Final Draft), the whole swelling to 194 pages exactly one year later, and before I began the first rewrite in August of 2006. Or would “unwrite” be a better word? For I was chopping dialogue, scenes, sequences, etc., and rewriting to smooth out the story and to get the page count down.

The whole is actually two stories as I had designed it in the beginning – a contemporary one showing the hero seeking to clear his name by uncovering the parallel story of what his ancestor had done; and how that past was now impacting his present. (A little DW Griffith-ish).

In the beginning of June 2005 I was toying with some ideas that I thought could make a good sequel to 2004’s National Treasure. Like the original it had those elements that excited me – adventure and history. I jotted notes on my morning bus ride to work.
The day after I started writing Rebel Treasure, the press announced that a sequel to National Treasure was in the works. For reasons that I will go into later, I kept on with the project.
2007 saw the release of National Treasure Book of Secrets. Eerily many of the same ideas in my script popped up in this film. Though perhaps it shouldn’t be considered too strange, given that they had settled on the same historical time period that I had chosen.
This I mention as one of the reasons I am going to serialize my script Rebel Treasure on this blog. It would certainly not be made now, mainly for the similarities, (and for another I believe the production costs would be prohibitive).
There is another reason that I want to do this. I am in the throes of completing my stage play The OutR Dark, and want to move immediately from that to my next project a new screenplay. Serializing it on my blog will keep its content flowing (I’ll still on occasion put up a memory or two), and free up my writing time for these two projects.
Beginning tomorrow, Rebel Treasure will unspool on the pages of this blog.

So stay tuned and Watch This Space.