The Ballad of Mad Jack Churchill
Man goes into WWII with a sword and a bow because why not?
In December of last year, I began work on what is now my second screenplay, and the first draft was finished just four months later by the second week of April. I was dead pleased with myself, as this was less than half the time it took me to write my first, and it would then take just a few more weeks of rewrites to get it to where I really wanted it to be. Now comes the hard part; getting it noticed.
It used to be that you could just send a spec sheet to a producer or studio, and hope that they'd be interested, but now producers don't want to hear from you unless you've got an agent and agents aren't interested in taking you on unless you got a recommendation from a producer. So, "You can't apply for this job unless you've got experience, but you can't get experience without getting the job."
Frustrating to say the least.
They say the best way to garner studio attention is to enter your script into competitions, and to attend film festivals, both of which cost money, and I'm not very cash solvent as of this moment. Whenever I have spare funds it goes into the script, but I figure why sit idly by between booms? So I'm trying to drum up as many low-cost ways of advertising the script that I can think of in the meantime, hence this article.
So let me give you a quick rundown of the script and the man himself.
John Malcolm Thorp Fleming Churchill, or simply Jack to his friends and loved ones, was born in Ceylon in 1906. Jack attended the Sandhurst Royal Military College as soon as he was old enough, and he graduated in 1926. He joined the Manchester Regiment and was sent to Burma to put down a rebellion, but it wouldn't be long before boredom set in. Jack was the sort of mile-a-minute type, and he wanted to get as much from life as he could, so when the military was no longer offering him the challenge he sought after, he began to cause trouble. He would show up to military parades in the pouring rain with an umbrella or practice the bagpipes in the early hours of the morning outside his CO's quarters. After ten years in the regiment, he would quit the army to become an editor of a newspaper in Nairobi. He would also become a model, represent Great Britain at the World Archery Championships, take second place in a bagpiping competition (the only Englishman to enter), and work as an extra in a a couple of movies; The Thief of Baghdad and A Yank at Oxford. So he was something of a mixed bag.
Once Britain declared war on Germany, he reenlisted right away. He became bored again throughout the "phoney war," but in May 1940, he got his chance to shine during the retreat to Dunkirk where his squad ambushed a German platoon. Back home, Jack learned of a newly formed service in the forces that would carry out lightning fast, coordinated raids that promised tough training, and even tougher combat. It was music to his ears. He completed training with the Commandos, and it was here he lived out the most memorable parts of his time during the war including taking over 40 German prisoners with the help of one of his corporals. Jack's luck finally ran out, and he was taken prisoner in Yugoslavia. The Germans wrongly believed that Jack was a relative of the Prime Minister, and was interrogated until he was of no use to them, at which point he was sent to a concentration camp near Berlin. After one unsuccessful escape attempt, Jack was free again, and was picked up by the Americans, but was dismayed to learn that the war in Europe was winding down. As soon as he got home, he demanded to be sent to Asia, though it was while he was in transit to India that the bombs on Japan were dropped, and the war was finally over. Jack exclaimed, "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could've kept the war going another 10 years!"
One of the reasons I wrote the script is that I wanted to delve into a staple of war movies that doesn't seem to get much attention. A lot of movies have dealt with PTSD, but I've noticed another side that has popped up a few times in that there's a character that keeps going back, keeps reenlisting. They'll usually say something like, "I can go back home, work for my friend/relative, earn 40k a year, company car etc. but I don't because I love this job."
OK, cool. Why is that? Let's explore that aspect of it, because it's not at all fictional; actual soldiers have experienced that phenomenon, and a war correspondent by the name of Sebastian Junger has talked about it at great length. I think Jack experienced it too, so it's not just this story about his "swashbuckling" adventures across Europe, its got some substance to it. I don't want all the focus to be on Jack either. I want to see how his friends, family, and comrades react to his behaviour too, and how they try to coax him out of it, because they don't want to see him get himself killed. So there'll be inner conflict too.
So yeah, that's the gist of it. We've already had movies based on the true stories of larger than life people in Hacksaw Ridge, To Hell And Back and Unbroken, so it's baffling to me how Jack's story hasn't had its day when it already has all the ingredients for a great movie. I want to get this made, and where I usually don't have a lot of confidence in myself, I feel this is a matter of when and not if. If you want to help out, you can go over to the Facebook page here, and give that a like for updates, and so I can have a physical representation of how many people are interested in seeing this come to life. You can also donate some cash if you want below, anything would be greatly appreciated and would go toward advertising, paid script reviews, etc.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let's see where this goes!