Stardust Family (pilot) by Judith Grace Bassat | Script Revolution

Stardust Family (pilot)

After the 1967 Summer of Love, a group of naive, idealistic hippies move to an abandoned farmhouse to start a commune as the locals set out to get rid of them.

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Page Count: 
60pp

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Synopsis/Details: 

Stardust Family’s about a group of people pursuing a dream against all odds and finding themselves. Charming, quirky, vibrant and warm-hearted, it’s not derivative; there’s nothing really like it out there. It captures the fresh, fun, electric energy of this brief and magical moment when the earth was shimmering with promise, and will appeal to many (like me) who are looking for something meaningful and hopeful in this dystopian time! Almost the entire story takes place in a single farmhouse and the surrounding rural area. I laid out 9 episodes for a limited series (but the possibilities for episodes are endless.)

Between 1965-70, 2,000 communes were started in America. Stardust Family follows 3 years of their commune experience, during which the outside world goes through pivotal changes—protests, rock and roll, drugs, sexual and spiritual upheavals—all of which are reflected in the story. The Stardust commune, with its non-stop trials, serves as an incubator of self-discovery, and, over the arc of the series, we follow the Stardusters’ fascinating journey as they come to know themselves.

It’s a colorful ensemble cast, but the 2 main characters are the refined, spirited Allie, who drops out of college, donates her inheritance, and is disowned by her conservative family, and the earnest Adam, the de facto leader, whose brother died in Vietnam, and who quit studying law to start the commune. These two truly believe in the possibility of a better world and hold it all together, although, over time, they grow in different ways (for ex. Allie will be kidnapped and deprogrammed, yet return to the commune).

Each of them is there for a different reason. There is Jesse, an orphan, who has secretly been in love with Adam since high school, and who follows him there. Garbo, a ballsy (often naked) Jewish earth-mother from Malibu, with a rich, unloving family, who seeks love and validation; Dakota, her “old man,” a PTSD Vietnam Viet with a hair-trigger temper, who is looking for peace (he later builds a treehouse and becomes a hermit.) Also Sunshine, 17, sunny and pregnant, who envisions a happy family, and her stoner musician boyfriend Hayes (who will abandon her with 2 kids). These and a stream of newcomers (along with FBI agents, journalists, gurus, anarchists, vandals, lawsuits, mutineers, drug addicts, draft board, sheriffs, disrupters and a Jehovah’s Witness who joins them) cause unending complications. The angry locals do everything to get rid of them, but, nevertheless, they persist. At the very end of the series, the house burns down, but each of the Stardusters has been changed, and is ready to launch.

Synopsis of Pilot “Welcome to the Family” (60 pgs) Fall 1967. The Teaser shows how Allie meets the earnest Adam in SF on her summer break as a sophomore art history student at Vassar and takes LSD with him for the first time. The two of them, along with Adam’s three quirky friends—Dakota, Garbo and Jesse—have a drug-induced epiphany about “being stardust in the universe” and opening a commune. In Act I, Adam and Allie, now lovers, and the 3 others, head north in their van to look for a house, picking up two hitchhikers—Hayes and Sunshine—on the way. The van runs out of gas on a back road and they walk to a gas station, meeting Lives in the Woods, a Yurok Indian. In the dark, they return to the van and sleep there. They wake up to see a dilapidated house just outside. Dakota breaks in, and they decide that the house, although a wreck, has “cosmic vibes.” Lives in the Woods calls the owner (in Hawaii), who agrees to let them live there, for free, if they restore it. He tells them that the house is on sacred Yurok burial ground and advises them to prepare it for the fierce winter. They move in and set down the “no rules,” (such as sharing everything, including clothes), and open the Stardust Bank, into which everyone puts whatever he has, their motto: “Forever Change.” The Stardusters go skinny-dipping in the river and are seen by amazed local boys. Allie tells Adam that, although she’s afraid, she has to tell her parents where she is or they’ll think she’s been kidnapped.

In Act II, the men work on the house and land but Hayes and Dakota argue and create mayhem. The men are chauvinistic; the women do all the housework. Garbo barges in while Adam and Allie are making love and tries to join in to Allie’s dismay. The pregnant Sunshine naively envisions a life forever with the Stardusters and the irresponsible but controlling Hayes. The stoned Stardusters sashay around the local store and incur the locals’ wrath. The outraged locals meet and decide to call in the Sheriff. The Stardusters take magic mushrooms, raise the Stardust totem pole (carved with their “spirit animals”), and dance wildly around it as local boys watch aghast. The benevolent spirits of the Yuroks rise from their graves and embrace the Stardusters.

In Act III, Allie receives a letter from her parents saying they’re disowning her. Distraught, she goes to the gas station to call them, but they hang up on her. A mystical moment with a deer helps her reconcile. The Sheriff comes to the house, threatening to shut it down. Garbo has sex with the reluctant Jesse (who doesn’t realize he’s gay yet). The Stardusters hear a blizzard warning on the radio. They’re completely unprepared and are snowed in for Thanksgiving. They share a meager meal and give thanks. The radio dies out and they find themselves “shipwrecked in the cosmos.”

In Act IV, it’s still blizzarding and they’re going crazy. Dakota impulsively burns Allie’s books to start the woodstove fire. Looking for the lantern, Allie goes to Garbo’s room and finds a hidden stash of food. In an argument with Garbo, in which they accuse each other of not being liberated, Allie learns that Garbo had been Adam’s lover in the past. Upset, she confronts Adam and a fight breaks out between Dakota (Garbo’s “old man”) and Adam. Adam, shocked by the violence, reminds them of why they came. As the storm continues, the Stardusters run out of food and grow more hungry and frayed. Hayes sneaks out with the van and crashes in a snowbank, nearly freezing. The men find him, and Garbo, a healer, revives him. Sunshine tells Hayes to feel their unborn baby kicking in her belly. Just as the Stardusters are at their wit’s end, they hear a knock at the door. Thinking it’s the sheriff, they hide the drugs. But, instead, it’s Zane, Indigo and Big Bear, who have come to join the Stardusters, bringing provisions. Allie says that they have to sleep around the stove and Zane replies they’ll keep each other warm, adding their motto “Forever Change.” Allie tells them, “Welcome to the family.”

Submitted: August 13, 2021
Last Updated: August 13, 2021

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Judith Grace Bassat's picture

The Writer: Judith Grace Bassat

When I was called into the principal's office in third grade, I was sure that one of my parents had died, since I never had been anything but well-behaved. Instead, it was to tell me that my poem had just been chosen for a national poetry anthology. After that there was never a question of what I would do in this life. I went on to major in creative writing at Bennington and to write a book and play Goodbye My Fancy (not the 1950s one - book on Amazon - link to play on YouTube below - about the last months of Walt Whitman's life), which was "supposed" to have been produced on Broadway (both Charles Durning and Burgess Meredith wanted to do it), and later as a television pilot that was "... Go to bio

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