C O M M E N T S
"This is an enormously talented writer. The writing is powerful and poetic. The characters are especially vivid and compelling. I've rarely read a script as good as this one - as a producer I would hire this writer in a second. This is a brilliant script and will make a powerful movie." Pamela Wallace, Academy member
Justin Swingle's WHITE SHADOWS, BLACK DREAMS, is a compelling dramatic script based on the life of one of America's most important but least known women, Madam C.J.Walker. An African-American who was born the daughter of slaves, orphaned at seven, she became through both strength of character and good fortune, Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire in the country and champion of the rights of not only blacks and women, but of all people.
Swingle evokes the era as well as the character and aptly carries us through something of an epic "journey" not only of locations but of emotions as well. Humor, horror, humanity, and love mix and cross leaving us with an all too rare satisfaction in contemporary cinema, even when tackling historical figures; a sense of not only having enjoyed the "journey" along with Sarah, but of having been enlightened and uplifted as well through her pain and joys.
—Andrew Horton, Ph.D
DIRECTOR of FILM STUDIES, UNIVERSITY of OKLAHOMA
WRITING THE CHARACTER CENTERED SCREENPLAY
WRITING THE COMEDY CENTERED SCREENPLAY
FILMS of THEO ANGELOPOULOS: A Cinema of Contemplation
THE ZERO HOUR: Glasnost and Soviet Cinema in Transition
THE FILMS OF GEORGE ROY HILL
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
Department of Film and Television
Dear Justin Swingle:
Thank you very much indeed for the opportunity and privilege of reviewing your screenplay. Thank you, too, for your patience and understanding with respect to the length of time it has taken me at long last to respond to it. As you can imagine, my responsibilities on campus, coupled with my own writing, cause me, unfortunately, to fall behind in my reading from time to time. But, now that the rush of the holidays is over, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to catch up just a little bit.
WHITE SHADOWS is a welcome addition to my reading list, and my hat's off to you for crafting an intriguing story with interesting, sympathetic characters. This is the gauntlet thrown down to all good writers: create characters worth caring about, and place them in scenes and settings filled with the sweet stress and tension required of all worthy dramatic writing since its inception. You've picked up the gauntlet, and I salute your efforts. Actresses perpetually—and with considerable justification—bemoan the paucity of substantial roles in film for women; so, is it any wonder then that Sarah is a role that will most assuredly have actresses salivating. It's a meaty part that requires a huge amount of range: She's strong, and yet she's vulnerable, too. In other words, Sarah is a complete, well-rounded, three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood character who leaps off the page and into the reader's imagination. How much more compelling a character will she be when audiences see her on the screen? It's hard to say, but my guess is that the sky's the limit.
I was delighted by the exchanged between Lucille, Becky and Eula Mae in almost every scene where they appear—but especially in church! You set a wonderfully high standards for yourself with these characters and their dialogue!
This story is frequently heartbreaking—as when Jeff is hung by the Klan—but also thoroughly up lifting. Here is a woman who has come so far, and it's hard not to be inspired by her strength and determination and tenacity.
You have demonstrated substantial talent and discipline as a writer with this effort which has tremendous potential. I salute and congratulate you and wish you the very best for the New Year and your writing and in all things. Write on! Perseverance and strength and stamina are the things that are rewarded in this dodge.
Kathy A. Cabrera
Media Manager for Richard Walter
Richard Walter is a celebrated storytelling guru, movie industry expert, and longtime chairman of UCLA's legendary graduate program in screenwriting.
W H I T E S H A D O W S, B L A C K D R E A M S
By JUSTIN SWINGLE
WHITE SHADOWS, BLACK DREAMS is an extraordinary accounting of African-American life at the turn of the 20th Century written in epic form. It's the classic story of triumphing over insurmountable odds to wealth, prosperity, leadership and independence. The formula has been attempted many times, but rarely does the storytelling transcend from telling the overwhelming story to taking the audience on the journey along with the central character. WHITE SHADOWS, BLACK DREAMS is in the company of THE COLOR PURPLE and ROOTS.
There is no question the writer knows the craft of screenwriting screenplays. The research and detail by the writer shows a strong grasp of the subject matter. The structure is solid, yet enormous. The concept and story ideas are compelling. All of the plot lines are well defined and hone to a fine tune.
The dialogue and main characters really make the script sing. The writer has a knack for dialect and is consistent throughout the script. The characters are real and very human, especially SARAH.
WHITE SHADOWS, BLACK DREAMS is a female star vehicle that could showcase true depth of human emotion and adversity and at the same time provides enormous amounts of dramatic action. There are several pivotal supporting roles that lends to having a strong, powerful cast. By having made the story personal, the script connects to people through core societal values and belief systems.
The movie would appeal to women, African Americans and anyone that relates to the triumph of the spirit. It's a family movie with adult themes.
STRUCTURE: VERY GOOD to EXCELLENT
STORY EXECUTION: VERY GOOD to EXCELLENT