Control by Arthur Tiersky | Script Revolution




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The birth control pill, one of history's most important and beneficial inventions is created by an eccentric scientist and a devout Catholic gynecologist, all spearheaded by the legendary feminist firebrand Margaret Sanger.

The story begins in 1950, when MARGARET SANGER, a legendary feminist warrior now in her 70's, recruits struggling biologist GREGORY PINCUS to develop a form of birth control for women that would be convenient, affordable and safe, and we alternate this decade-long project with the back story of Sanger's life, how she was born into a large, impoverished Irish family to a mother who was constantly ill and pregnant, due to the Catholic Church's mandate against birth control.

Pincus quickly settles on the hormone progesterone as the key to preventing ovulation, but after many months of experiments, he realizes that he's going to require far more time and funding. Fortunately, Sanger is friends with an extremely wealthy patron, KATHERINE MCCORMICK, who is more than happy to help back the project. Eventually, Pincus teams up with DR. JOHN ROCK, a nationally renowned gynecologist who has been experimenting with progesterone for fertility purposes. Rock is an unlikely team member in that he is a devout Catholic, but he dedicates himself fully to the invention, believing that it does not technically break the Church's rules.

Young Margaret becomes a nurse and gradually, having seen too many women desperate to "stop the babies", becomes a relentless activist for birth control and opens the nation's first birth control clinic, in the impoverished neighborhood of Brownsville, alongside her equally determined sister ETHEL. The sisters are more than happy to go to prison for their cause, and indeed, they do. Their fight agsinst the system lasts several years and gradually results in a weakening of the anti-contraception laws, but Margaret and Ethel have a falling out that is never repaired.

After years of trial, error and testing, Pincus and Rock gradually manage to perfect their invention and are able to try it out on a community in Cuba, with the help of EDRIS RICE-WRAY, a tireless reformer.

Middle-aged Margaret becomes the founder of what is eventually known as Planned Parenthood, but she parts ways with them and becomes more and more reclusive, addicted to painkillers and drinking heavily. But she never lets go of her dream of the birth control pill, and when she reads about Pincus in the newspaper, she immediately contact McCormick.

Rock and Pincus, with the support of I.C. WINTER, make a presentation of their new drug, Enovid, to Searle, one of the nation's top drug companies, who is already selling it as a menstrual regulator. Their pitch is convincing, but the FDA rejects their request, on "moral" reasons. The three men appeal their case and angrily confront PASQUALE DE FELICE, whom they manage to intimidate into changing his mind. The pill hits the market in mid-1960 and becomes an instant worldwide smash that catalyzes the sexual revolution as well as greatly curbs the over-population of the world.

A closing montage of the history since then leading up through the controversial testimony of SANDRA FLUKE and beyond makes it clear that the fight for women's reproductive rights and equality is still ongoing.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Screenplay Festival - Semi-finalist (2019)

Submitted: April 21, 2020
Last Updated: May 11, 2020

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The Writer: Arthur Tiersky

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Arthur graduated Oberlin College in 1992 and eagerly made the big move to LA soon after. He has been a WGA member since 2003, having done rewrite work for Disney and some independent productions and web series, optioned numerous screenplays, written two award-winning shorts, "Voodoo the Right Thing" and "Good Cop, Bad Cop", and been a winner or finalist in many screenplay contests, most recently a winner for Dark Comedy at the Portland Comedy Film Festival ("Electric War"), and for Dark Comedy ("Why Dontcha Kill Me?") and Romantic Comedy ("Unmatched") at the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival. His latest script "I Don't Know" has so far made the semi-... Go to bio

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