Journeys, based on a true story that took place in Milford, PA, my beautiful home town, is about a penniless widow who turns to a brilliant young attorney for assistance, but in his passionate determination to help her, he discovers a multi-million dollar estate that forces them both to redefine the meaning of love, trust, family, money, betrayal and forgiveness.
What made this story so compelling from the beginning is that it’s about my father and a client actually named Olive who came to him for help in the late summer of 1949. That fact alone could be explanation enough to describe a fascination and commitment to bring this story to the screen. But my passion goes much further than that. I first heard the story from my father in 1980 at my Thanksgiving table. I sat, spellbound as he spoke, having never heard it before, and when he finished, I said, “Daddy, that’s a film, and I have to write it.”
After he returned home from that trip, Dad gave me the story along with the files and wills of Olive and her husband, Adalbert. I started with just one office scene, which he had described in detail, along with a few other facts about Adalbert’s inventive trade making metal parts for mills and the annual trek this couple made each year, up and down the eastern seaboard, living on $14 a week and turning their back on their wealthy Boston backgrounds.
That was enough for me to begin imagining who would make those choices and why. I then began a fifteen-year process of mulling and experimenting, trying to figure out a story that would be honest and respectful of my father and his life and career while still being interesting enough to flower into a full-blown story with credible characters who would work on the screen.
Finally, in 1997, after many false starts, I found myself ready to complete the first draft and character/background sketches. It was none too soon, as Dad by then was failing, and I’m eternally grateful I was able to share my script with him before he died. He was pleased with the story I had chosen to tell.
I then shared a fifth draft in 1999 with Dale Olson, lovingly known in the biz as “Mr. PR.”. I first met Dale, a veteran entertainment Public Relations executive and former Senior Vice President and President of the Motion Picture Division for Rogers & Cowan, when he represented me at the agency. I’d always respected his opinion highly. He found the screenplay “riveting.”
And so it seemed preordained, after I finished a re-write of the script in February of 2011 utilizing the enhanced skills I’d acquired after earning my MFA in Screenwriting from AFI, that I send it to him first. Here’s what Dale had to say about Journeys: “This whole idea is so profound and yet so simple…I think it may be the most interesting and at times profound screenplay and story I have read in years.”
Dale intuitively understood my simple vision from the beginning: to make a quiet, lustrous, quality film that was luminous with sensitive and touching portrayals respectful of the time and story, and that also honored my father’s integrity, essence, character, and life.
The appeal of Journeys isn’t surprising. It’s a universal story. A story about love and trust and family, and the secrets and insecurities we all struggle with in our lives about money and relationships. It is my hope that everyone involved in the production will find their lives enriched by the experience and that together, we will create a film that honors the people who lived it.