James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater Chronicles

Going Down Screenplay Way

With all the work I have in the can and also on a low simmer, I’ve decided to ‘knock off’ a quick screenplay adaption of my novel MS, DOGS OF PARSONS HOLLOW. The damn thing was designed to have that sort of cinematic appeal, so why not?

If not me, who? If not now, when?

That’s a line from Jesse Jackson, yes, but also from my completed feature length screenplay, THE PROGNOSTICATORS. I wrote this piece a few years ago in a blizzard of screenplay creation, an adaptation of a short story that I never managed to get published. After reading the piece, I feel very high about my screenplay skill-set, and am ready to move on a script for DOGS. I wrote the original draft of this script (from a very thin outline) in a mind-bending three days, start to finish, with mostly all the current scenes already in place. Maybe I’ll take a little more time with DOGS.

Here’s the logline:

THE PROGNOSTICATORS

An Original Screenplay by James D. McCallister

Comedy–Drama 127 pages

4th draft June 2012

WGAW#1616591

It’s the poignant hijinks of Sideways mixed with the palpable, undying love of rock music that Almost Famous did so well: With tax season 1999 and his 50th birthday looming, schlubby Hall McNabb’s trying to hold onto his job, his family, and maybe most of all, his hobby band, The Prognosticators—on some days, as he tells his weary wife Evelyn, it’s all he’s got.

But just as Hall gets hope that his prog-rock cover band has a chance at headlining the downtown Magnolia Music Fest, he finds himself competing for more than a spot on the big stage—his dissatisfied spouse, he fears, has fallen for the one person he can’t stomach losing her to: a bandmate, one who’s also the best damn bass player with whom Hall’s ever had the privilege to jam.

This script has so much heart and humor. I really think it could have a shot—much appeal to aging boomers and general music fans. It was pretty much written with Paul Giamatti in mind, but there are many decent parts for all sorts of actors. Maybe it will one day interest someone looking for a story that hits familiar narrative notes—the dreamer, ever dreaming and stuck in an less than satisfying reality, has one last short at glory—but set in a slightly different milieu. By the end I was downright misty, but you know what they say: you should never laugh at your own jokes. But having forgotten so much of this material, I have to admit that it made me LOL on any number of pages. I feel so good about this work! I think my college scriptwriting guru Franklin Ashley would be proud.

Side-note irony: Both DOGS and THE PROGNOSTICATORS, two trunk projects, are set in 1999. Between that and Fellow Traveler‘s 90s setting, I wonder why I go back to that time period so often—maybe I’m just into writing pre-Bush 90s porn.

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About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest novel Let the Glory Pass Away releases in January 2017.

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