Screenplay (pages 1-5)
EXT. LAKE CONEMAUGH - DAWN
The soft light of dawn pierces heavy rainclouds. An overnight rainstorm
has left the forest silent, save for the drops of water falling from the trees.
HEIDEN, a country farmer, stands
at the lakeshore with a fishing rod in his hand. Behind him, two young boys play excitedly in a small creek with a wooden
Shhh! You'll scare away dinner!
His baited hook flies through the air and plops into the lake. Its mirrored surface reflects a cluster of stately homes nestled
among the towering trees. The morning light illuminates the elegant Victorian grounds of the South Fork Club. A team of rowers
glides across the misty lake in front of the ornate, ivory-white buildings.
Down the shore from Heiden, a pair of
eyes peer ominously through the leaves. Something dark moves slowly among the dense foliage. Thundering out of the forest,
a lone horseman in a long black coat races toward the family. As his stallion closes in on Heiden, the boys feeze in fear.
BENJAMIN RUFF, the rider, raises a shotgun and blasts the early morning silence. Leaves torn from an overhead branch drift
through the air and fall into the creek.
No trespassing! You've been warned before!
Well, you're up early, Mr. Ruff. I
No more warnings.
Ruff aims his shotgun directly at Heiden. From behind Ruff, the youngest of the two boys gasps and drops the toy boat into
the creek. Startled by the presence of the boys, Ruff turns from Heiden and levels his shotgun at the youth's wide-eyed face.
Dear Jesus, no.
We're leaving, Mr. Ruff. Come on, boys, let's go now.
shot won't be a warning shot.
Don't ever come back.
As Ruff holds his aim, the trio turns and walks off into the woods. Heiden casts a parting glance over his shoulder; Ruff
watches, unmoving. From behind him, the toy boat sinks slowly into the dark water of the lake.
EXT. CLUBHOUSE - DAY
Ruff gallops up to the verandah of the Clubhouse, the grandest of the buildings making up the
South Fork Club. Ruff's dark, sunken eyes peer out from beneath his brimmed hat. Tossing his horse's reins to a black stable
boy, he walks toward the verandah with a slight limp. Despite his handicap, his stride is strong and purposeful. Ruff is approached
by a young man with a downy new moustache and beard, JOHN PARKE.
Squirrels, Mr. Ruff?
Remember, Parke, these farmers around here aren't
like the fancy West
Point professors you're used to.
Before Parke can respond, MRS. SCHULTZ, the buxom German housekeeper, stomps onto the verandah followed by Lilly, a plump
young maid. Mrs. Schultz carries an envelope.
Shooting your big gun at the farm boys again, Mr. Ruff?
Enough with the shooting, Mr. Ruff! And
there will be no more playing with the guns
Carnegie arrives today. He comes for
the peace and quiet, not for the target practice!
the orders of the Board of Directors.
You need to look at the dam.
Oh, dat man.
Mr. Parke, you have mail here.
Thanks, I'll get it later.
As the two men walk off, the glowering Mrs. Schultz turns and steps on the foot of the young maid cowering behind her, who
yelps in pain.
Oh, Lilly. Always like a shadow!
EXT. DAM - DAY
Ruff and Parke stride along the roadway that crosses the dam at its crest. Behind them, the sun rises
over the misty, green Conemaugh Valley.
Do you think it will rain more today?
Might rain, might not.
Parke points to a small trough at one end of the dam, its metal mesh tangled with branches and leaves.
If we get much more rain, we'll have to open
up the fish screens to lower the water level.
we won't open up the fish screens and let
all the fish go. No fish, no fishing club.
Andrew Carnegie's not coming
all the way from
Pittsburgh for the god-damned scenery.
The pair approaches the center of the dam where a team of Italian immigrant laborers carry shovelfuls of manure and straw
from a wagon down the face of the earthen dam, smacking the mixture into pockets in the face of the dam. Flies buzz noisly
around the wagon.
Manure...we're sure it will hold, right?
The pyramids of Egypt were built with the
Do you think the pyramids held?
Rain much in Egypt?
What's that? Remember
you job here, Parke,
remember your job. Resident Engineer of the
South Fork Club. You like your job, don't you?
Yes, sir. Of course, sir.
Then don't forget about the supplies you
need to pick up today
down in Johnstown.
Parke looks down the forested valley to a small cluster of smokestacks and buildings. Johnstown appears quaint and peaceful
from his lakeside vantage point.
For complete screenplay, please contact Marc Lallanilla