Story Pitch: Chasing Scarlet (Part 1 of an Original Work)

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Not so long ago, I mentioned in our Facebook page that I was handling another blog on Wordpress, which was for a school project of ours. Before that, I was tasked with making a journal that chronicles my real-life adventures for two weeks, but given that I never found the straightforward path interesting to begin with, I took it upon myself to do something else with it, becoming the basis for the blog. In fact, calling it a "journal" is a stretch, and labeling this post as "Based On A True Story" seems far fetched, given that the end results are almost different from what really happened. Today, that blog is currently underused, and after coming to terms with the fact that it is not satisfactory in my eyes, I have decided to give it a near-complete overhaul. These are the results, so far. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and today, I will be presenting what is arguably my most personal work in-progress, Chasing Scarlet.

Concept artwork for the six main characters of Chasing Scarlet; Created by Dane Reyes

The Concept:

Technically speaking, Chasing Scarlet is all about my personal experiences in high school, from typical homework stress that I mention every once in a while, to even more personal topics such as my insecurities, my views on modern society, and my own failed romantic escapade. Like I said, the straightforward path is boring, and other readers would just be bored with me ranting about things. As such, I decided to change almost everything, including the actual setting and character names, and from all of those, I was able to create a total of four versions of the same story. Much like The Chronicles of the Night Watch, it underwent several changes, from just a journal, to an average, slice of life story, to an oddly toned contemporary sword-and-sorcery tale, and finally, to a satirical piece with science-fiction bits and social commentary, which tackles themes of families, friends, redemption, recognition, and legacies. Chasing Scarlet is, right now, a coming-of-age deconstruction of how media portrays high school life, as well as a deconstruction of various young adult novel cliches (I really like poking fun at a lot of them), placed in a real world context. You can view all of the various incarnations of the project here, and you can take a look around the currently un-updated blog here.

Also, inspiration shows itself in unexpected places, and to my surprise, I was inspired by the albums of rappers Logic and Kendrick Lamar, specifically The Incredible True Story and Everybody, and To Pimp A Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d. city, respectively. These four albums helped me establish concept album-like structure of the story, with me even dubbing this as a "literary concept album". Remember, I am currently interested in hip-hop.

Like The Chronicles of the Night Watch, since this is practically MY work, with some assistance from my up-and-coming artist friends, please do not, and I repeat, do not, not ever, not in a million lifetimes, should you try and replicate these. Again, I am only sharing the story with you for the sake of sharing. In fact, I am currently working on a book on this one, which will be followed by The Chronicles of the Night Watch, so do not get any funny ideas.

Also, the story itself is slightly difficult to follow, and a little bit hard to explain in summary, so please bare with me on this one. Just because I said that I took inspiration from my own life does not mean that everything is straight from reality, mind you.

Concept artwork for James Wheelan; Created by Laura David

The Story:

The story is told in a non-linear, semi-structured random events format, and it is divided into three main "acts".

The main protagonist of the story, Jamison "James" Callum F. (Flintley) Wheelan presents to a slightly attentive crowd at a medieval-themed, and prestigious looking fast food restaurant known as "The Ticktock Corner". In a monologue, James decides to share a tale about himself, which he claims will hopefully inspire others to overcome their experiences on "The War Without End", referring to life itself.

Act 1: James Wheelan

In an alternate version of the present, four competing students representing the "Crossmore City University of Social Studies" (C.C.U.S.S.) are riding a train to the industrial district of "Quentinstown", a large, semi-metropolitan business district where about more than half of the people are working adolescents. In their luxurious ride, filled with private rooms and a bar, the students, composing of the leader, Benjamin "Martin" H. (Harland) Jones, the assistant leader James, the public-relations expert "Holden" Alexander D. (Delacourt) Bradford, and the team secretary Cassandra "Cassie" M.F. (Montgomery-Froyde) Yates practice for their upcoming inter-school research defense.

This particular defense would decide the fate of a virus known as "The Henrietta", a strain that was discovered dormant in fruits and vegetables, and caused people to get cancer-like symptoms, leading to death eventually. This also nearly caused the city to be bankrupt, but was prevented when adolescents have volunteered to work. Being a humanities-centric academy, C.C.U.S.S. is determined to defend their claim that The Henrietta must be reprogrammed and be made into an agricultural growth enhancer that will result in crops growing again, making the city rich again and providing enough jobs for everyone.

James Wheelan is based on me, Pio Martinez;
Created by Dane Reyes
Each of the members have their motivations with regards to the competition. For James, who is obsessed with gaining recognition for his hard work at his own school, and he attempts to do so by joining a particularly bloody rivalry, it is his ultimate goal to finally defeat the assistant leader of the representatives of the "Eureka Academy for Science and Technology" (E.A.S.T.), and his academic rival, Jane Ashlief "Lee" F. (Frances) Carter, whose genius has resulted in James being overshadowed again and again. For the womanizing and cool-headed Holden, and the nihilistic photographer Cassie, they simply want to support James, as well as due to them being concerned that James' workaholism is taking a toll on his health, although Cassie also doubles as an informant for Lee, her childhood friend. For the not-so secret cross-dresser Martin, he has his own secret reasons.

On another train that is entering the district are the representatives of E.A.S.T., who are against with C.C.U.S.S.'s proposal to reprogram The Henrietta, instead proposing to improve upon whatever technology and resources the city has right now. This would hopefully prevent a potentially worse outbreak. 

This team composes of team leader Lindsey Valeria "Ria" F. (Flintley) Layton, James' adoptive older sister who become close friends with the popular Lee Carter, famous child star and musician, and public-relations representative Medina "Mindie" O. (Ozgoode) MacKreidie, and secretary and robotics ace Caplan "Cap" Cranston S. (Stoltzer) Quincy, Jr.

While Ria is determined to satisfy her need to feel famous by being with Lee, Lee is determined to make sure that her openly lesbian relationship with Mindie, who is suffering from self-esteem issues over her status as a child star, is stable. Cap, however, never gets to express his true feelings for her longtime best friend, Lee.

When the two teams meet by chance, before the two are about to settle on their respective hotels, Ria and Lee interrogate C.C.U.S.S. for their alleged unauthorized access to their research paper, which is against the rules. Lee knocks Jame and his allies out with a knock-out blueberry tea, which would keep them away far away from the competition as long as possible. They are then transported to a secret location, even farther from their competition.

While James is unconscious, he engages in a hallucinatory conversation with  a younger version of himself, who then asks him, "How did we even get here?" This causes James to get a flashback of James' family adopting Ria, who was caught stealing from their family restaurant when she was at the age of four. James' mother, the overzealous Meredith, was persistent to adopt her right away, claiming that it is "God's will for her to be here". James and Ria become close as time goes by, bonding over the highly anticipated hip-hop album of one of their favorite artists.

However, Meredith's clear favoritism of Ria, despite not being her own flesh and blood, caused arguments within the household, leading to Ria to run away in search of a "perfect" family.

Ria Wheelan is based on my two sisters, Ada Martinez and Daphne Balleta,
and her appearance is based on my writing friend Denrie Perez.

Convinced that it is his job to keep his family happy, James runs away with Ria, hoping to convince her to come back home. After promising to their parents that they will return, James and Ria have taken-up residence somewhere in Quentinstown, while they study in their respective schools. A rift later forms between the two of them when Lee entered the picture.

Upon waking-up at an under renovation Ticktock Corner, James, Holden, Cassie, and Martin are greeted by the appointed leader of the business school "Saint Artemis Grayson Institute for Economic Learning" (S.A.G.E.L.), Solomon Truman H. (Hertzel) Harlowthe, who forces them to perform various odd jobs for them, so as to keep them occupied while he and his colleagues fulfill their "contract", given that their school helps the "true researchers" to reveal themselves through challenges.

On their school's name, it was supposed to be called "S.A.G.I.E.L.", but the pronunciation sounds "off" for some of them.

Two aspiring musicians, Miriam "Francine" D. (Dolan) Gallagher, and Carlton Daniel "Danny" S. (Smithson) Kerrigan offer to help the four escape if they are able to help them secure permanent musical jobs at The Ticktock Corner, which they get later on when the four helped them in their performance.

Finding-out that the traffic will not let them make it before the defense officially starts, they make use of the subway system, and finally escaping their captors. On the way, James, through him conversing to his parents via his phone, imagines how their research will benefit the city twenty years from now, and of course, Lee defeated by his hands.

This part ends with James managing to qualify their team to the nationals round, despite not having their notes due to their opponents stealing back their notes that were suspected of being stolen from them. James and Lee, recalling all of the times when Lee overshadowed James, came to a tipping point when the two of them decide to write over their notes, and over their respective faces. E.A.S.T. vows vengeance, while C.C.U.S.S. smiles at their first ever victory.
Concept artwork for Ria Wheelan; Created by Laura David

Transitioning to the next part, James, after concluding his monologue to a mildly gentle applause, aids Francine and Danny in the present timeline when a problem breaks-out of The Ticktock Corner. Forced to help with some of the dishes, James recalls how the three schools of Crossmore City were founded. 

In the aftermath of The Henrietta epidemic, C.C.U.S.S., the once leading learning institute in the city, faced controversy when it was revealed that their principal and founder, Professor Lillian Jessup, who persuaded to proceed with the testing phase of the virus unchecked, was indirectly responsible for the outbreak. Because of this, many have begun to brand anyone who wanted to study the arts, or anything related to humanities, as a potential threat. E.A.S.T. was formed by two pharmaceutical company heads, Nicodemus Desmond and Dorothy Carter, the parents of Lee Carter, after struggling with poverty due to the virus, and have since claimed their riches through their investments in the stock market. In an attempt to fix the city, the Carters asked the population to support their company, "The Carter Consortium", which is met with resistance from extremist C.C.U.S.S. students, leading to discrimination. To balance out the conflicts, businesswoman Vera Karpov formed S.A.G.E.L., which is a school teaching students business, in the hopes that their judgments on which projects among the two schools could be more beneficial for the city.

So apparently, we are eating-up a lot of space again. As such, there will be two more parts for this story pitch. While you wait for the next part, here is one of my personal favorites from Logic. Yeah I know, cheesy lyrics, but hey, it is a million miles better than what I regularly hear over the radio. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


"Chasing Scarlet" and all other related elements such as characters are properties of Reuben Pio G. Martinez, while the artworks are made by Laura David and Dane Reyes.

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