Neon Cactus by Philip Sedgwick | Script Revolution

Neon Cactus

A successful businessman uncovers a secret from his wartime past with the aid of a mysterious woman and a cactus in the sweltering Arizona desert.



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WALTER FREEMAN is a successful business consultant from Los Angeles unaware that he harbors Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from an incident that occurred decades ago while in Vietnam. One day, while driving to Phoenix for a work trip, he decides to pull off the Interstate and walk amongst the phenomenal saguaros in Arizona.

One of the towering cacti appears to glow in the late afternoon sun, and to Walter's amazement,
he hears a voice that he assigns to the cactus. The voice informs Walter that he is about to meet a most amazing woman, at a rest stop along the highway, before he reaches his destination. Sure enough, a few rest stops down the road, Walter meets the enigmatic ELIZA.

Amazed by the prophecy, Walter returns to speak with the cactus more. Using the information
given by the cactus, Walter's business skyrockets. The caveat in all these new encounters, Walter receives instructions to heal all his relationships, especially his relationship with Andrea, a wannabe actress whose behavior borders on the redline of codependence.

Walter's travels lead him to Quartzsite, Arizona, where he encounters an angry young cowboy,
jealous of Walter's good looks and success. An enemy is made.

One blazing hot day, Walter returns to the cactus to discuss a strong uneasy feeling growing
within. The cactus leads Walter through a flashback where Walter reviews a "friendly fire"
artillery mission he lead in Vietnam that resulted in the death of U.S. Soldiers.

Walter returns to his motel in Quartzsite to find Eliza waiting. Eliza reveals that while residing in Afghanistan, she became involved with a canine IED detection team. One of the dogs assigned to the team frequently ran away, often seeking refuge with Eliza. The troops extorted Eliza into going on missions and walking with the dog in front of troop convoys. During one sortie, things went awry and the dog and several of the troops were killed. Eliza was blamed. She reveals the long, dark road she walked to heal from her own PTSD. She tells him once his healing is complete, his life will never be the same - in good way.

After an intimate encounter with Eliza, Walter returns to the cactus to discover his cowboy
adversary shooting the cactus to pieces. Walter confronts the cowboy in a vain attempt to save
his cactus friend. Defeated by the stronger, well-armed cowboy, all appears to be lost... until an arm from the wounded cactus falls, landing on and crushing the cowboy. Bewildered, with no
where to turn, Walter is lost... until he discovers the voice of the saguaro was actually inside all along. Eliza mysteriously appears and guides Walter to a grand vista where it is revealed they must each go their own way, and continue as ambassadors of healing.

In the script's first incarnation it placed as a QuarterFinalist in the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) Nicholl Fellowship (1990). Greg Beal,
fellowship director, wrote that the script was "Offbeat and inspiring."

Comps: The Coen Brothers meet Bruce Beresford
Field of Dreams meets Born on the 4th of July

Attached Talent: 

See Script Hop link for attached talent and wish list.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Quarter-Finalist, The Nicholl Fellowship, 1990
Quarter-Finalist, Cinequest Screenplay Competition, 2017
Official Selection, Gold Canyon Film Festival, 2020
Official Selection, Chandler International Film Festival, 2019
Official Finalist, Amsterdam Film Festival, 2011
Quarter-Finalist, 6th Annual Story Pros International Contest, 2012

Submitted: July 15, 2021
Last Updated: August 2, 2021

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This Script Is Loved By 2 Readers

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The Writer: Philip Sedgwick

Philip wrote his first script at the prompting of a writer friend. He entered his second script, Neon Cactus, into the Academy's Nicholl Fellowship, which placed as a Quarter-Finalist in the prestigious competition. Since that time, more than thirty of his screenplays & films have received acclaim from film festivals, fellowships and competitions. Philip served as a juror for the Prescott Film Festival for the past several years, where he also presents screenwriting workshops. His produced short films have screened and won at many film festivals. A handful of feature scripts can be read on ScriptHop (links provided). It is my practice not to post short screenplays online. However, any... Go to bio

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