HRI: History Repeats Itself by D.C. Copeland | Script Revolution

HRI: History Repeats Itself

Where Reality TV meets History.



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Cameras follow modern families from the North and the South thrown into a time and place as alien in technology and customs as any found in the most imaginative science fiction: the reenactment world. The families will test themselves during a series of weekend events requiring them to live authentic lives deprived of all modern creature comforts. In so doing, they not only learn something about history and the community the reenactment takes place, but also something about themselves. The 12-part 1-hr TV series following 12 major battles is divided into the following parts:

Teaser: Each show opens with NARRATOR dressed in the clothing of a 19th Century farmer walking away down a sidewalk lit by streetlights before dawn in a typical American middle-class neighborhood. Whist-ling the show's haunting theme, he stops in front of a house. A black van roars up. "Men in Black" (HRI's storm troopers) jump out and rush toward the house.

A before dawn knock on the door. It could be any door. It
could be your door. You never know when it will come.
Ready or not, this is history in your face; this is when
history repeats itself.

FREEZE FRAME on each family member as they are led away in their pj's and underwear. Their names and ages are spelled out in teletype below their sleepy, frightened faces as Narrator introduces each one, their names teletyped below their frozen, haunted faces.

After meeting them, the family is marshaled into the black van which will whisk them away to a reenactment battle. When the door is slammed behind the last one, we see the show's iconic stamped title.

JUMP CUT (following a commercial break): the "family of the week" is smack dab in the middle of the Civil War looking disheveled, dirty, and very out of place. Sure, they're wearing authentic clothing from that era, but they basically don't have a clue as they're jostled about in the maelstrom of the moment. They notice one of them is missing (a father or a son old enough to be a soldier). That family member is fighting for the other side-- just like it happened in the Civil War. "HRI:" is stamped (you can hear the impact!) across their anxious faces in the swirling campfire smoke and/or heat of the battle as the episode's title/battle is then stamped across their perplexed faces.

Act One: The family is "adopted" by reenactors who try to show them how to live in a world 150+ years ago. Of course, it won't be easy. The viewer will learn-- or be reminded-- right along with the family not only about the rigors of day-to-day living (no cold drinks, no A/C, no "instant" anything-- everything is labor intensive: you want chicken, you gotta kill the bird and pluck its feathers)-- but also about the customs, politics, music, dance, and leisure activities of that period. We will also sit in on the planning of the upcoming battle with the officers of both sides of the war as we follow our divided family to the North and South battlefields Hqs.

Act Two: The battle. Quick cuts, hand-held cameras, and swooping crane shots will give the viewer and our time-warped family a sense of real battle conditions including the carnage, the courage, and the dread of not knowing what the hell is going on and what will happen next. It will be as loud and as intense as the opening scenes of "Saving Private Ryan." The goal will be to give each family member a "thousand-yard-stare" by the end of the battle and close of the 2nd act.

Act Three: The denouement. HRI's "Men in Black" unmask our family and leave it stumbling and disoriented on its front lawn, still wearing clothes from the Civil War while smoke from the battlefield still wafts around them. As they find each other, embrace, and return to their nice safe home, Narrator ties up the loose ends regarding the episode and its place in the war. As he speaks we DISSOLVE to recreated scenes under narration if necessary. We also include current footage shot of the festivities and the community that hosts the reenactment, giving dates and web page addies to contact for more info. Narrator, always nameless, says something about seeing us later, turns and walks down the sidewalk whistling the show's haunting theme which gradually fades away with his image.

*Although they have agreed in advance to participate, none of the families know when the "knock will come" and most of them, like most of us, will never be ready.

Sizzle Reel for History Repeats Itself (HRI) using cuts from our doc "On the Road to Olustee."
Submitted: March 24, 2021
Last Updated: April 9, 2021

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D.C. Copeland's picture

The Writer: D.C. Copeland

Hello, thanks for taking a look at who I am. Hopefully you aren't here because you were “misdirected,” that you want to find out more about just who this D.C. Copeland is after reading one of my loglines. I'm an artist, a muralist, and a writer whose canvases and stories are for the most part writ large across time and space. While in college at the University of Miami , I co-founded Ecology Action of Florida . That sense of saving the environment can be found in many of my works. While creating works of art and fiction, I supported myself and my family as the Warner Bros Pictures Florida Field Rep for Publicity and Promotion for nearly 20-years. During that time I got to know many... Go to bio

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