Paradigm by Stephen Wise | Script Revolution




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A dinner among two couples turns deadly when a long-held secret surfaces, revealing a web of deceit, greed, and betrayal that proves that nothing is as it seems.

Morgan Shaw is an everyman. In his late 30s, he works at a decent job, owns a nice house in the country, jogs in the evenings, and engages in playful banter with his wife, Abbie. She is a successful author of books on botany, though is a bit on the cold and distant side despite loving her husband. She can’t stand Morgan's best friend, Tommy Kremwell, a social incompetent living off an inherited trust fund. For the first time in his life, Tommy has found himself in a relationship with a woman, who he desperately wants Morgan to meet. Over Abbie’s objections, Morgan invites Tommy and his girlfriend to dinner. Upon meeting Christine King, who acts like a stereotype of an overbearing trashy Southerner, Morgan feels uneasy, as if he’s met her before. Seeing a tattoo on her lower back sends Morgan into a panic — which leads him to dig out his revolver.

Twelve years earlier, he had been madly in love with a woman named Carrie Bachman, who portrayed herself as a braying New Yorker and is now passing herself off as the new persona of Christine, including a complete makeover. Back then, she had worked for a check cashing company and convinced Morgan to take part in stealing from it. Lovestruck, he went along with it even though he knew it was wrong. Carrie laid out the concept, and Morgan pretended to “rob” her, after which the two buried the stolen $250,000 with plans to retrieve it after things cooled down. Unfortunately, the police showed up at his door. He soon realized that Carrie set him up — this was a routine she performed from city to city and the police wanted her. Morgan agreed to help set her up in exchange for his freedom. She was subsequently arrested, convicted, and sentenced to over a decade in prison.

Now free, Carrie has returned not only for revenge, but also for her money. Upon confronting Morgan, he tells her that he does not have the money and threatens her with the gun, which he has to hide when interrupted by Abbie and Tommy. He has to protect his secret. She resumes her false guise and leaves with Tommy, who she convinces needs to “play a trick” on his friend for mistreating the two of them. Weeks earlier, Carrie had paid a surprise visit to Abbie, who knew about her and Morgan's past. Abbie tried to protect Morgan by setting Carrie onto Tommy to get her hands on his trust fund. Carrie then preyed upon Tommy, but also had other plans.

After the dinner guests leave, Morgan decides to reveal his long-kept secret to Abbie, who shows empathy toward him for all he had endured. But before he can reveal the location of the stolen cash, Carrie and Tommy return to the house and cut the power. Carrie manages to take possession of Morgan’s pistol and then holds Abbie hostage. Carrie reveals Abbie's own secret to Morgan — not only did she know about the stolen money all along, but before meeting Morgan, Abbie had worked with Carrie in the cash checking store all those years ago and was actually party to Carrie’s plot to steal the money and set Morgan up for the fall. However, she was the one who had tipped off the police to Carrie’s scheme and had testified against her in court. Several years later, she “accidentally” met Morgan and initiated their relationship.

Morgan has little time to react to this news when Carrie shoots him. At gunpoint, she forces Tommy to roll Morgan in plastic and put him in the trunk of his car with instructions to dump him in the lake. Abbie escapes from her confinement and rescues Morgan, who is in pain but is hanging on. As he fights for his life, Abbie and Carrie confront one another and Tommy reveals one final secret. The final confrontation turns deadly, as Morgan learns that even the closest people can be hiding who they really are.

Attached Talent: 

Director - Stephen Wise
Producer - Eric Miles
Producer, Casting - Tracy Frenkel
Executive Producer - Joe Weckerle
Executive Producer - Kristi Vannatter

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Winner - Best Screenplay, 2020 Toronto Online Film Festival
Winner - Best Screenplay, 2020 Southeast Regional Film Festival
Winner - Best Unproduced Feature Film, 2019 Orlando Film Festival
Finalist - 2019 Page Turner Screenplays competition
Semi-Finalist - 2019 Screenplay Festival

Submitted: March 31, 2020
Last Updated: August 28, 2020

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The Writer: Stephen Wise

Stephen Wise was born in Michigan. At age eight, friends of his invited him to participate in a “home movie” they were making. This set him on a course of filmmaking where he wrote and directed his own films on Super 8 through his teen years. His family moved to Texas and then to Oklahoma, where he earned an Associate’s Degree in Broadcasting. He then relocated to Orlando, where he was one of the first 30 students inducted into the inaugural class of the University of Central Florida’s film program and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree cum laude. With a love of writing, Stephen focused on screenwriting. Having teamed up with Lee Shapiro, their co-written screenplay Sinkhole was a Finalist... Go to bio

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