The Century Builders by Kelly Lynch | Script Revolution

The Century Builders



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In the dangerous and declining railroad industry of the 1940s, the family of a blue-collar foreman and his band of colorful workers grapple with changing times as a new technology threatens to decimate their town.

In the thriving industrial city of Spencer, Ohio THE RAILROAD dictates every way of life and foreman Lawrence Sullivan is charged with keeping hundreds of men and their locomotives moving around the clock. Amid the menace of strikes, breakdowns and estrangement from his family and employees, Sullivan's railroad shop is threatened with closure, and he must keep the trains running, starve off cutbacks and come up with a plan to keep the town alive.

THE CENTURY BUILDERS is a blue-collar, workplace drama in the style of MAD MEN, with shades of OCTOBER SKY and MATEWAN.

SCREENCRAFT's reader says, "THE CENTURY BUILDERS is a refreshingly original and wonderfully written pilot. You have created such a rich and vibrant world even though it is covered in soot and oil. And you populate this environment with equally colorful and dynamic characters. This pilot was a pure pleasure to read. At first, I was worried that it was going to be a re-hashing of Hell On Wheels, but it is miles apart from that show. Your dialogue is top-notch. Not only is it all-natural sounding and never heavy on exposition, but it is authentic to the period, cultures and social class. You’ve effectively hooked this audience member in with the unique setting, engaging cast and compelling story."

LAUNCHPAD's reader says, "The pilot episode of THE CENTURY BUILDERS is undeniably impressive. From its careful attention to period detail, to its robust depiction of the intricacies of train and engine work, it’s easy to see how much dedication was put into this project. This is smart, dramatic material that feels very in line with other big-budgeted premium cable hit series like CHERNOBYL and WESTWORLD. As far as the overall story here, I think this pilot has a great command of theme and world-building. On the whole, THE CENTURY BUILDERS has a huge amount of promise."

AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL's reader says, "This is a seamlessly written and well-executed pilot with its portrayal of the world behind-the-scenes of the railroad and of the city of Spencer, which has prospered as a result of the steam engine, and whose 50-year celebration signals a shift in the industry that built it. There is an in-built tension in the way the hierarchy of roles on the railroad need to work together as a team to make the trains run on time and a natural opposition between the hardworking men and women and management with the salt of the earth Lawrence “Red’ Sullivan caught in-between. This is a world I haven't seen explored but with the family at its centre, shares elements with series like Queen Sugar -- which also captures an industry -- the sugar plantation and mill -- on the cusp of change. Comparable too in its way to the play, Death of a Salesman, in signaling the end of an era through the family story. This episodic drama could pack a punch as a limited series or with its slow-burn tension and tight timeframe (a little more than a day in the pilot) explore the fight as dieselization overtakes the steam train."

"This world is extremely compelling. The early railroad era is always a story element but never a feature. The narrative is polished and engaging. Repairing locomotives has never been more action-oriented. The character descriptions are brilliant and paint a vivid picture of who these people are and what they’ll bring to the series. These characters all have unique backstories that shoe thru and can be mined in future episodes. The dialogue is jargon-heavy, but it doesn’t impede the understanding of what is happening. Eliot coming home ramps up the stake because the future of the railroad is uncertain right when he’s just starting to create his life. Because Lawrence is the only one who knows, this will add undoubtedly tension to an otherwise close-knit group of people. As a series, this could really usher in a new angle to this genre."

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Filmmatic Drama Screenplay Awards (2020)
Finalist, Golden Script Competition (2020)
The Red List, Coverfly, #15 for Drama Television (One-hour) (March, 2020)
Semi-finalist, ScreenCraft Pilot Launch TV Script Competition (2019)
Second Rounder, Austin Film Festival (2019)
Quarterfinalist, ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship (2019)

Sizzle Reel
Submitted: November 4, 2019
Last Updated: August 2, 2020

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The Writer: Kelly Lynch

A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me. Award-winning thirty-something creative dabbling in films, historic preservation, trains and other things. Worked with CBS/Paramount NBC/Universal, The History Channel. Schooled at the New York Film Academy, Columbia College Chicago. Imagemaker, storyteller, consultant. Caretaker of two good dogs and at least one bottle of Basil Hayden. Go to bio