Unnatural Selection

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Catastrophe (Sci-Fi, Screenplay Award 2023)
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Logline or Premise
It’s the Summer of 1977, a tenacious girl, along with her reluctant private detective, dive headfirst into an elusive Hollywood cult, in hopes of finding her missing actress sister.

First 10 Pages

It’s the Summer of 1977, a tenacious girl, along with her reluctant private detective, dive headfirst into an elusive Hollywood cult, in hopes of finding her missing actress sister.

This is Unnatural Selection, a drama with a sense of humour. Set in the seedy and uninhibited backdrop of LA in the seventies, it explores the indomitable human spirit when faced with the corruption of the American Dream.

It’s Christmas eve in London. Sisters, Andy and Heather Young, hold hands. Andy’s is stained with ink and Heather’s is immaculate. They are in the waiting room of Saber Publishing house. Mr Saber tells Andy that she is talented but needs life experience to find her voice.

Heather auditions for the role of ‘Shop Girl’. It starts innocent enough, until the greasy casting director, demands she mimes undressing. The men in the room ogle her while the female reader, pretends to be oblivious.

They watch ‘Rocky’, Heather is deeply moved. She confesses her envy at male rage which Andy doesn’t understand. At home, they are greeted with their alcoholic father Joel, passed out in his chair, surrounded by bottles.

In bed, Heather announces that she is going to Hollywood to make it. But over the next few months, things carry on as normal. A difficult Christmas. Arguing over Charlie’s Angels possible sexist qualities. Matching smiley face toe tattoos. Until one night, Andy comes home to find Heather has fulfilled her promise.

Postcards start to arrive, every week, like clockwork. Andy relishes them. So, when they stop abruptly for three weeks running, she’s devastated. With no help from her father, she takes matters into her own hands. She’s going to Hollywood.

Arriving at the Sunny Seasons Motel, she is greeted by Al Cortez, a singer song writer and the unlikely receptionist. They quickly strike up a bond when Andy bumps into him again at the local convivence store he also works at. After smoking a joint with Al during his break, she goes back to her room and witnesses a murder next door. The police take her statement. She asks them about Heather, but she is quickly dismissed as another runaway. Once his partner exits, Detective Roberts hands over the number of a Mr Jack Wilson, private detective.

After some hesitation, Jack agrees to meet Andy. He’s jaded, gruff but loveable. Using the money left by her deceased mother, she employs him. Jack asks if she ever mentioned a Beau Mackenzie. Heather had mentioned a ‘Beau M’. But who is he? And why does he leave a bad taste in Jack’s mouth?

Andy wants in on the investigation, she joins Jack and discovers he is ex police, fired under mysterious circumstances. Perhaps something to do with his estranged wife and daughter in a photo she spots.

Jack reveals that Beau Mackenzie is the illegitimate heir to the Mackenzie Talent House and the founder of Mater Natura. An impenetrable cult that he runs off the grid. Andy suggests that she goes undercover to infiltrate the cult and find her sister, taking down Beau in the process. Initially, Jack resists, he can’t protect her. But she insists.

The plan is underway at Big Billy’s. A Mater Natura hot spot which Al happens to be playing at. Andy is now Jennifer, an American wannabe actress who swiftly makes friends with Celeste and Cyrus. Identified as members from the signature white Camila flowers they carry. She secures a meeting with, Richard Mackenzie, the legitimate heir, who points her in Beau’s direction. He takes a liking to her and invites her to the compound.

He divulges that he is a fallen star sent by Mother Nature to find the others. That the most powerful and pure stars are the most beautiful. Perfect. Like a camilla flower. Soon, they will return to the astral realm on the coming ascension date. Celeste tells Andy, that if she passes the initiation ritual, she could become his favourite. Then let’s slip that his last one is rumoured to have betrayed him and disappeared.

The ritual begins, a psychedelic tea is served. Andy begins to trip. Celeste tells her to remain calm otherwise she could hurt herself, like that Wilson girl. Trying to find a quiet place to add to her notes, she stumbles into a greenhouse. A body lies concealed with only the feet peeking out. And on the big toe, a smiley face. Is that really Heather? Or is she hallucinating?

She wakes the next day at the motel. A white Camilla on her pillow, a sign that she passed the test. But what now? Does she tell Jack that about the ‘Wilson’ girl? About the body? That her notes are missing? With the ascension drawing closer, Andy must decide her next move or Mother Nature will decide for her.