Life During Wartime - Pilot by Mark Bowes | Script Revolution

Life During Wartime - Pilot

When his life implodes, a recovering alcoholic, HIV+ actor flees to his mother’s trailer park, inhabited by geriatric Hollywood has-beens, where he finds himself battling 80’s AIDS hysteria, jeopardizing his sobriety and very existence.

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Page Count: 
49pp

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Synopsis/Details: 

Alone on a stormy beach, battered by rain, Puck, stares at the churning waves with a voice in his head, “I’m sorry to tell you, but your test came back positive.”

At the height of 80’s AIDS hysteria, Patrick “Puck” Dunne is fired from his first big acting job suspected of having HIV. Irate, he retaliates and hurls a cup of urine at the director, which ends his acting career and sends him on an all-night bender. Falling off the wagon is the least of his problems, when his empathetic ex kicks him out. With nowhere to go, Puck flees to Palm Springs to seek refuge in his estranged, mother Gwen’s trailer park. Upon arrival in the desert, he’s confronted by the tyrannical HOA president, Lucinda, and learns his mother has suffered a stroke and is being cared for by Kingston, her live-in nurse. Tempers flare with Puck’s drinking and he continues to run-up against Lucinda and the HOA with his confrontational antics and outrageous behavior. He does find some sympathy while out one night, when he encounters Charlotte, a 93 year-old pothead and former silent film star, who extolls her extensive wisdom while handing out incredibly potent joints. In fact, the entire community is inhabited by a D-list of colorful, Hollywood has-beens in their twilight years.

Puck just can’t stop feeling sorry for himself and when he’s trusted to care for his mother, he screws up and she’s sent to the hospital with pneumonia. Feeling like he’s a failure, he gets drunk and ends up floating, face down, in the community pool, rescued in the nick of time by a mysterious, gender non-specific person, named Halcyon.

Our season finds Puck struggling with his sobriety, while trying to keep it together and not end up on the street. His ongoing battle with Lucinda and her HOA acolytes, being at constant odds with Kingston, dealing with his mother’s deteriorating condition, all while finally facing with his own health and HIV status, takes Puck from a place of desperation to a place of hope, with something to fight for.


We also meet the trailer park inhabitants, such as Lucinda, an Ida Lupino type, whose only aspiration was to direct movies in a world of men; Alvin, a former vaudeville hoofer and his dog, Rocket; Betty, a screen starlet whose career was destroyed because of a studio-arranged abortion; Eiko, a Japanese-American actress, who career tanked due to her ethnicity and the aftermath of WWII; Gwen, Puck’s mother, who was Esther Williams’ stand-in and a background bathing beauty; Irving and Shirley, a dancing duo, who waltzed their way through MGM musicals but never made the big time; Yolanda, the most gifted actress of the bunch, but was never given any roles aside from walk-ons and playing servants.

Puck makes friends and foes during his journey to healing, and discovers everyone has something meaningful to teach him and through their interaction he finds a reason to live.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Series Fest - Storyteller's Initiative - Semi-finalist
Stage 32 - Diversity Springboard - Semi-finalist
WeScreenplay - Diverse Voices - Quarter-finalist

Submitted: May 1, 2021
Last Updated: June 23, 2021

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Mark Bowes's picture

The Writer: Mark Bowes

As a teen, Mark spent Summers making his own Super-8, stop-motion animation, which resulted in him catching the filmmaking bug. Exposure to 70’s disaster films cemented his desire to pursue film as a career. Mark's interest in the periphery drew him to being a punk, then performance and a stint in a heavy-metal drag band in San Francisco. Studying filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago followed soon after and his first film, Get Happy or The Night Judy Garland Started A Riot , screened in numerous film festivals around the world, from Montreal to New York, Glasgow and Tokyo. Since college, Mark lived abroad teaching English in Japan, started a company creating promotional... Go to bio

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