Prodigal by Chris Courtney Martin | Script Revolution




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A repressed grad student's life implodes when her troubled stepbrother's return from rehab disrupts the family's stability.

ZORA is a focused black graduate student from a mixed-race, blended family. She lives at home with her politician father (RICHARD), his wife (BRENDA) and their young daughter (CECILIA). Brenda's son, ALEX is released from rehab and returns home after twelve years to help the family present a united front for Richard's political campaign. Longstanding tension resurfaces between Richard and Alex, while Brenda feebly attempts to repair her relationship with her son. Zora supports her friend, NADIA through doubts about her impending marriage. Zora and Alex start to form a friendship they never sought as children. Upon seeing this, Richard warns Zora that Alex is dangerous, manipulative and not to be trusted. The family attends a campaign fundraiser for Richard. When the Mayor's wife makes a racially insensitive comment about Zora's hair, she leaves the party. Alex follows Zora to comfort her, and convinces her to go clubbing.

The next morning, Richard lambastes her for skipping out on the gala. Zora snaps back at Richard for allowing the Mayor's wife to pet her hair "like an animal in a zoo." Richard slaps her, which ends the argument but forces a rift between them. After a conversation with Alex, Zora starts to question her feelings about both him and Nadia. She and Nadia sexually experiment during a Girl's Night sleepover. At the same time, Alex confronts Richard about the affair they had when he was seventeen, which ends in heated hate-sex. On Christmas night, Zora and Nadia fight about the next steps for their relationship. Nadia considers leaving her fiancé for Zora, who is still confused about her feelings. The argument ends on an ugly note. That same night, Alex professes feelings for Zora and they begin sneaking around. Soon after, it is revealed that Alex has been secretly recording the family's sordid interactions and sending the clips to his friend NIKKO for safe keeping. He hasn't returned to help Richard's campaign- he's there to sabotage it.

As Zora and Alex's secret romance progresses, he continues to sit on the evidence he's compiled. Eventually, Richard discovers Zora and Alex's relationship after finding condoms in Zora's trashcan. Outraged, Richard destroys his own office and injures himself to frame Alex for assault. Alex tells Zora about his past with Richard and that he's being framed, but she refuses to believe her father would do those things. Alex makes a call to Nikko and states that if he doesn't contact him by midnight, Nikko should leak the videos he sent him. After catching Richard in his lies, Zora finds Alex at a motel and apologizes. They make love and consider heading out of state together. To spare Zora further pain, Alex texts Nikko at the last minute to call off the plan. The next day, Alex turns on the news and sees coverage of the leaked footage- a clip he intended to send Nikko(he and Richard) and one he didn't (he and Zora). Alex calls Nikko who explains he didn't get the text until it was too late. Zora, out buying breakfast, sees the news playing on the store's TV. She speeds back to the motel to find Richard, who tracked her phone. Richard shoots Alex in the chest, then himself in the head. Alex flatlines in the ER, but is revived. At the hospital, Alex tries to explain himself to Zora, but she is beyond forgiveness. After Richard's funeral, Zora leaves town, taking only what she can fit in her car.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

RECOMMENDED by WeScreenplay

"Strong character development, steady pacing, and a smart
narrative at the core of this unique take on Shakespeare’s
OTHELLO, help to power this script. The protagonists are
incredibly well developed and highly unique – we don’t often
see these types of individuals together on screen in this
manner, in this style of narrative… so from that regard it’s a
really fresh take on the classic tale.

"You craft the narrative incredibly well in this script, which
turns on the character action/development as opposed to the
hook. You understand that the conceit cannot outweigh the
character in this type of story (or in any story, to be honest
– character first!) and the result is an engaging tale. I
loved the atmosphere and the setting – you’ve crafted a truly
engaging narrative here that grabbed me with its distinctive

"The relationship between Zora and Alex is obviously what
powers this narrative, but it’s rare to find such onscreen
chemistry in the writing as we do here. Each and every time
these two share a scene together I found myself absolutely
captivated. There’s a stark contrast between the two that goes
well beyond skin color and the surface-level traits that
divide them.

"Somehow, though, these two are meant to be together and
watching their relationship blossom from that early scene in
which they take Cecelia to the park and a stranger mistakes
her for their daughter to their final moments together, I
found myself entirely lost in their relationship and willing
to embrace it for what it was while also questioning it for
the very same reason. The narrative lingered with me for quite
some time after finishing this script (and still does to be
honest) and I can honestly say I haven’t read anything this
engrossing in quite some time.
You’re most definitely on the right track here...I think you’ve crafted a truly
engaging and unique narrative that’s as emotive and heartfelt
as it is fresh. I commend you on a job very well done...really amazing work! Best of luck with it!"

-WeScreenplay Analyst

"The script is a very easy read; the pace is lightning fast...There is lots of under-the-surface tension that bubbles up (or explodes) at just the right moment. Well done... The characters are very well developed. We get to know them as real people with all the flaws showing. This is one messed up family."

- Cameron Cubbison of Screencraft

Submitted: November 27, 2016
Last Updated: June 4, 2018
Times Downloaded: 28
Last Downloaded: December 31, 2019

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The Writer: Chris Courtney Martin

Chris Courtney Martin hails from Philadelphia, where she was introduced to her craft. In high school, she placed in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights competition three years out of four. After receiving the prestigious Liberty scholarship, Martin started Drexel University's Screenwriting & Playwriting program, where she switched gears to focus on screenwriting. Martin graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree from Drexel's SCRP program, as well as minors in Film & Video and Art History. She has since won/placed in several screenwriting competitions (including Urbanworld and Emerging Screenwriters) and received promotion via the 2018 Young & Hungry List, 2018 Bitch List and... Go to bio
Agency: Gersh
Agent: Bayard Maybank and Bob Hohman
Law Firm: Zerner Law
Lawyer: Larry Zerner
Manager: Gavin Levinson - ROAR

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