Other People's Treasure
A magical and enchanting feature film about a mysterious kidnapping & a legendary treasure, set at a castle in the Italian Alps.
“I read OTHER PEOPLE’S TREASURE and am obsessed. Grace is perhaps the most adorable protagonist I’ve ever read in a script.” –Abbott Entertainment, Los Angeles
A remote town in the Italian mountains where fog wreathes the summits and moonlight glimmers on Alpine lakes.
When a local magnate, in trouble with the mob, buries his family fortune in a treasure chest in the mountains, he plans to tell his family about it the next day.
But a hit man comes for him that night.
Thus begins the legend of the hidden treasure in the mountains of Val Gardena.
Many years later, the magnate’s widow is an embittered old woman, living alone in a stunning castle in the cliffs—the last, stony remnants of what was once a vast fortune. Her only child was kidnapped on the day of her husband’s death. Lonely and resentful, she buries herself in a life of shallow materialism.
But when her great niece Grace, 8, comes from New York to live with her, everything changes. Grace is the sort of child her aunt detests. Tomboyish, clumsy, rowdy and adventurous, her life is a series of hilarious accidents, often spurred by her love of animals and her warmhearted desire to help people.
When Grace hears the story of the lost treasure chest, she is determined to find it.
With help from her aunt’s trusted advisor —a twinkling, funny, delightful man, modeled on the late Robin Williams—Grace sets out on a quest to untangle the mysteries of the past. But the journey to find real treasure may be more dangerous than she realizes.
Many have sought the lost treasure in the mountains and never found it. Perhaps it takes an inquisitive child to see what no one else has seen. And perhaps it takes a child, whimsical and pure of heart, to realize a startling truth about the real meaning of treasure.
Scroll down to read an excerpt from the script.
Message from the Author
I began my life of storytelling at the age of two, when I climbed up on stage at a children’s theater, eager to take part.
As a child I spent much of my time coercing my brother and sister into performing elaborate theatrical productions in our basement. I wrote, directed, stage managed, and made the popcorn.
In high school I got my hands on a Hi-8 camcorder, and found myself in filmmaking (Hi-8 making?) heaven.
I am obsessed with storytelling.
My parents hoped this peculiar obsession would fade with time (and made plans for a promising med-school career) but it never happened. I went on to study creative writing at Stanford, and then filmmaking at USC. Since then, I have worked as an independent filmmaker and screenwriter.
My goal is to create films that are entertaining, thought provoking, and cinematically rich. I truly believe that film has a powerful ability to change the world. I would also like to see more women in film. OTHER PEOPLE'S TREASURE has two strong female leads, and a female-led crew.
I began developing the plot for OTHER PEOPLE’S TREASURE while traveling in Italy. Walking along the moonlit shore of Sestri Levante one evening, with the Bay of Fairy Tales lapping on my left and the Bay of Silence whispering on my right, I saw something glinting in the water. I reached down to pick it up.
A rake slammed down in front of my hand. I looked up to see an old woman in tattered overalls, who seemed to have materialized from a wisp of moonlight. “Non toccare la medusa,” she said. Don’t touch the jellyfish. She swept the glittering thing away through the dark water. “Il mio meduse.” My jellyfish.
I went back to the hotel and wrote the opening scene of OTHER PEOPLE’S TREASURE.
Since then, OTHER PEOPLE'S TREASURE has placed in many contests, including the Academy Awards' Nicholl Screenwriting Contest. As a result, I was fortunate enough to win option proposals from many film studios. But no one wanted to make the film the way I wanted to make it: with the original script -not altered to make it more commercial- and the original characters -not rewritten to star fourteen-year-old divas- and the original location ... Italy.
When I first visited Val Gardena, with its beautiful, historic castle, I fell in love with Italy all over again. The owners of the castle –sympathetic artists and writers themselves- gave us permission to shoot the film there. How often does one have a chance to shoot a film at a castle in Italy? I hope you will join me, and become a part of this exciting project.
By shooting on the RED camera -the same digital camera used for projects like HOUSE OF CARDS and GAME OF THRONES- we are keeping our budget incredibly low for a feature film. Our $300K budget covers all expenses, including insurance, equipment, recruiting a 40-person cast, running enough generators to light a 17th century castle, etc. Please scroll down to see our budget breakdown. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.
I am deeply grateful for your support. A final word: Kickstarter projects that succeed usually do so by spreading the word far and wide, building momentum when many people contribute small amounts. One dollar is incredibly helpful if 300,000 people each decide to contribute it. Please help us spread the word by sharing this project with your family and friends. I hope you will be rewarded by some of our amazing incentives listed on the side of the page … and by knowing that you helped create a beautiful, powerful film we can all watch in theaters one day.
Thank you for being a part of this project!
For your reading enjoyment, the information below is arranged into the following sections. Please feel free to skip around and read whatever sections interests you!
2. Project Timeline
5. Screenplay Excerpt
6. Why We Need More Women in Film
Have a Question about the Film?
Post it below, and get a response within 24 hours! Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "Ask a Question." To read about the Project Timeline, Budget, Actors, or to read an excerpt from the Script, see the sections below.
We are currently in Preproduction, when we plan the project and raise funds. We have finalized the script, planned our production schedule, and arranged major discounts on film equipment in Italy.
The castle is not available for production until June 2015, due to snow in the Alps until May. This gives us the perfect amount of time to finish preproduction. Here is our estimated timeline:
January - May: Preproduction
We’ve already completed the first stages of preproduction. The Italian Film Commission has been beneficial in helping us plan the shoot, and putting is in touch with equipment rental facilities, casting agencies, etc. Now (clearly) we're working on fundraising. We hope to raise the minimum funds needed to make a great film ($300K) by the end of this campaign. If we reach our goal, we will continue to apply for additional film grants from the Italian government, to make the film even more compelling and visually rich, but we’ll know that we can proceed with our budget covered either way.
From there, we’ll put together our filmmaking team: cinematographer and camera department, gaffer and electrical department, production designer and art department, etc. Each film department will break apart the script, creating a shooting schedule, production boards, storyboards, shot lists, costume designs, etc.
From there, the planning continues. Preproduction for a film is basically like organizing a two-month voyage to the Arctic, or a really, really complicated wedding: planning, planning and more planning. If you have any questions about the process, don’t hesitate to ask!
June - July: Production
This is the fun part. We shoot the film. We hope some of you will join us on set to experience the most exciting part of filmmaking.
August - October: Postproduction
Once we have the raw footage and sound captured in production, the next step is to put it all together. In postproduction, we’ll weave all the individual pieces of the film into a beautiful, cohesive whole, complete with music, color correction, sound effects, etc.
When the film is ready, we’ll enter it in film festivals … and share the finished product with our wonderful backers!
The budget for this film is $300,000. Here is a breakdown of how the funds will be spent. If you have any questions, please post them below.
Casting for this film will begin in February. In the meantime, have a seat in the director's chair … tell us whom YOU would cast in the main roles!
A major part of directing is finding the perfect actors to bring a role to life. We all know an actor, or someone who ought to be an actor, or someone we've seen and loved in a theatrical or indie film production, whose career we'd like to promote. Read about the major roles and send us your recommendations for whom we should cast. Perhaps you'll discover a star!
On a similar note, if you envision a television or film star who is already known, who would be perfect in one of the roles, send us your suggestions! If enough people mention a specific star, we will do our best to get in touch with him or her. As mentioned in the video, we won't contact stars who aren't right for the part … but sometimes even extremely successful actors will take part in a low budget film if a role truly is perfect for them. Thank you for your suggestions!
Following is a list of the three major stars in OTHER PEOPLE'S TREASURE. To email us suggestions for whom to cast, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click “Ask a Question,” and email us your thoughts!
Age 60-70. A countess who lives alone in a castle, haunted by memories. Her only child was kidnapped as an infant, and her husband was killed by the mob after burying his family fortune in the mountains. Once stunningly beautiful, Aunt Giulia has collapsed into herself, feeding off of old memories and an odd combination of religion and vanity. A complex, bitter character, with a strange ability to surprise us.
Age 30-60. Oddly enough, the age for this character doesn’t matter … The important thing is that he is a driven, passionate, single-minded priest, entirely consumed by his obsession with helping the poor … Yet in spite of his fixation, he is funny, witty, intelligent and utterly charming, a complex villain who wins our hearts, and then terrifies us.
Age 8. A funny, rowdy, tomboyish little girl, Grace can’t please any of the adults in her life, from her frivolous parents to her Great Aunt Giulia, who tries to adopt her. Curious and daring, Grace stumbles into adventures and accidents at every turn … which makes her the ideal person to find the long lost treasure.
As promised in the video, here is an excerpt from the beginning of the screenplay.
Please note that Kickstarter (though supportive in so many ways) does not support uploads of Final Draft documents or pdf's. Therefore, this script is not in strictly professional formatting. Don't worry- the full screenplay is.
EXT. ALPINE LAKE - NIGHT
An ink blue sky lit by flaming white stars. Black mountains, drenched with fog, frame the water. From somewhere high in the mountains, a church bell rings, spurring a chorus of stony echoes.
A rowboat glides into view. A lantern bobs over the head of the lone rower, MARCELLO LESTRI, nearly dead with fatigue. He glances around nervously, then touches an object in the bottom of the boat, covered by a lumpy blanket. As the boat revolves slowly, a whispered voice …
GRACE (voice over): They say he buried it by the water.
EXT. 17TH CENTURY CASTLE - EARLIER THAT NIGHT
Majestic turrets soar above the cliffs, like smoothed out crags in the rocky mountainside. Marcello Lestri emerges from the castle tower, dragging the same chest we saw before.
GRACE (voice over): He was in trouble with the mob. He owed them a fortune he claimed he couldn’t pay. To protect his family’s treasure, he put it in a chest, to hide it away …
EXT. LAKE - NIGHT
Lestri places the chest in a bobbing rowboat, anchored to a mossy stone. As he glides away, we move back into the woods, where a HOODED MAN is watching.
INT. CASTLE - NIGHT
A massive wooden door creaks open. Lestri stands in its frame, his costly clothes drenched in water. The chest is gone.
INT. DRESSING ROOM - NIGHT
A SERVANT helps Lestri into a heavy dressing gown. Lestri departs into a bedroom, where a woman is dimly visible on the bed, her arm flung across the pillows. The door closes.
The Servant waits a moment, then opens a wardrobe, revealing the HOODED MAN. They look at each other. Neither one speaks.
GRACE (voice over): If he meant to tell anyone where he buried the chest...
The Hooded Man moves toward the bedroom. As he opens the door, we see the GUN in his hand.
GRACE (voice over): He never had the chance.
EXT. ALPINE LAKE - NIGHT
Glinting water, same as before. Same dark mountains, same stars, but this time, NO BOAT. Gusts of fog puff over the lonely water like ghosts.
GRACE (voice over): They say the chest is lost forever.
We move slowly over the inky, black waves.
GRACE (voice over): But I think they’re wrong.
Suddenly, we plunge
UNDERWATER - GRACE'S IMAGINATION
At first the water is dark, but suddenly, improbably, it changes to violet, then turquoise, then glittering azure. As we plunge down through changing colors, iridescent fish swim by. Glittering silver sea creatures stream across the screen.
GRACE (voice over): I think it’s out there somewhere.
A small HAND stretches into view, swimming down as we plunge through the lake.
GRACE (voice over): Buried these forty years ...
EXT. LAKE - NIGHT - BACK TO REALITY
Silence. Stillness. We look down on the water from the same high angle as before, but now we can see we are looking through a second floor window. A gust of wind makes the sheer white curtains flap wildly.
GRACE (voice over): And some day, someone will find it.
A small hand darts out and yanks the curtain shut.
INT. HOTEL - NIGHT
Lights! Chandeliers! Whirling music! Compared to the ghost-like silence of the previous scenes, the small hotel party is alive with color and activity.
We travel through clumps of well-dressed, American guests, catching bits of conversation, glimpses of silk and lace.
FATHER : This is my oldest daughter, Viviana.
FATHER, a tall man in an expensive tuxedo, shows off his daughter. VIVIANA, 13, is already exquisitely beautiful.
FATHER (CONT'D): She’s a painter, she paints flowers. Do you like them?
Father points to a display of small floral STILL-LIVES. The Guests murmur politely.
FATHER (CONT'D) (proudly): She also plays the piano.
INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT
MOTHER, a bony, middle-aged woman, too elegant to touch, skims along sheathed in silk. She holds a small DRESS.
Mother opens doors, glancing into rooms.
MOTHER (CONT'D): Gra-ace!
INT. NURSERY - NIGHT
A child’s room with a canopy bed and a fort on the floor, constructed from chairs and blankets. IMELDA, a portly housekeeper, folds clothes.
MOTHER: Imelda, have you seen Grace?
IMELDA: Seen her! I just spent an hour getting her out of her play clothes.
MOTHER: An hour? Is something wrong?
IMELDA: Joe told her how they’re making the appetizers.
Imelda clucks disapprovingly.
IMELDA (CONT’D): Viviana was at piano practice, so there was no one to calm her down.
MOTHER: But Imelda, if she’s not wearing her play clothes, what is she wearing?
IMELDA: I sent her to you for her dress.
They both look down at the DRESS in Mother’s hands.
INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
Close on a pair of shiny black SHOES. White lace SOCKS. Above the socks, instead of a dress, GRACE, 8, wears an oversized ORANGE LIFE JACKET that hangs to her knees. A snub-nosed, scruffy girl, eyes red from crying, she lies on top of the refrigerator, tying a hook to a home-made FISHING ROD.
The door opens. Grace tenses. COOK, a fat woman with a large hearing aid, waddles in. She sets a pan on the counter and bustles back into the pantry.
Inside the pan are five LIVE LOBSTERS. As their beady eyes shift nervously back and forth, a HOOK dangles slowly into the frame. On top of the fridge, Grace manipulates the rod.
GRACE (in a whisper): It’s okay, little lobsters. I’ll save you.
Grace expertly HOOKS a lobster by the band around its claw. Looking as surprised as a lobster can look, it rises into the air.
GRACE (CONT'D) (whispering): No one’s going to boil you alive.
Grace snatches the Lobster off the hook and jams it into an empty VIOLIN CASE, just as Cook enters. Cook bustles around. Reaches the pan. Frowns. Muttering to herself, she waddles out of the kitchen.
EXT. HOTEL - NIGHT
We stay with Cook as she waddles outside, down the steps, to a barrel of lobsters by the dock. She selects one.
INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
Cook re-enters, puffing. As she prepares the new lobster, Lobster Number 5 rises into the air behind her.
Cook turns back to the lobster pan and finds it- empty! She looks up. Grace is leaning over the side of the refrigerator, reeling up an Italian pastry on her fishing line.
COOK (Italian accent): Santos! You again! You horrible child ...
Scolding, Cook waddles across the kitchen for a bamboo rod in the corner. Grace hastily crams the pastry into her mouth and scrambles down.
INT. RECEPTION ROOM - NIGHT
Grace bursts into the elegant party. Guests near the door stare at the odd little girl in the life jacket. Grace edges cautiously along the wall.
An OLD MAN with thick glasses swoops down on her.
OLD MAN: Well, well! If it isn’t, Francis’s youngest. What’s your name again, child? Grace?
Grace’s mouth is crammed too full to answer. She nods.
OLD MAN (CONT’D): Ha! I knew I’d remember if I tried. And how old are you?
Grace glances around, desperate. She holds up seven fingers.
OLD MAN (CONT’D): Five years old! Well, you’re getting to be a very big girl, aren’t you?
Grace glares at him.
OLD MAN (CONT’D): Your sister has been showing off her talents. Tell me, what are yours?
Grace can’t think of a way to answer. She backs up slowly into a large vase, which tumbles to the ground, along with Grace and the violin case, which bursts open. LOBSTERS crawl everywhere.
OLD MAN (CONT’D): Dear me! Lobsters.
A Woman descends on the Old Man and whisks him away, not noticing the lobsters.
Hastily, Grace spits her pastry into a woman’s SILK HANDBAG, sitting beside a chair. She scrambles around, collecting lobsters. Just as she has shoved the fourth one in her purse, she looks up and sees the FIFTH LOBSTER, crawling along the back of a sofa towards a Lady’s elegant, pearl-trimmed NECK.
Grace’s eyes go wide. She stuffs the lobsters in the vase and crawls as fast as she can for the sofa.
The Lobster is inches from the Neck when a hand lands on Grace’s shoulder.
AUNT JANE: So here’s my niece! Where have you been hiding?
AUNT JANE pulls Grace to her feet.
AUNT JANE (CONT'D): Grace. Dear. What are you wearing?
A SCREAM interrupts them. The Lobster has gone down the Neck. The OWNER OF THE NECK jerks her hand into the back of her dress and FLINGS the Lobster across the room, SHRIEKING.
The Lobster lands with a splash in the PUNCH BOWL. Guests, not seeing it, try to soothe the apparently hysterical Owner.
OWNER OF THE NECK (sobbing): It was some sort of crustacean!
As people comfort the Neck, Grace crawls under tables, weaves through crowds, to the punch bowl. She looks around. No one seems to be looking. She sticks her entire ARM in the punch.
Juggling the dripping, slippery lobster, which flaps its tail wildly, Grace ducks under the table, breathing hard.
After regaining her composure, Grace lifts the edge of the tablecloth and peers out. Across the room, a Servant picks up the fallen vase. Looks inside. Rushes to the Kitchen. Cook comes out. He hands her the Lobsters. Scolding, she takes the vase firmly in hand and carries it into the Kitchen.
EXT. LAKE - NIGHT
The shore is deserted. Moonlight spills over the water like milk. Grace stands at the water’s edge. Kicking off her shoes and socks, she steps in, placing the Lobster sadly on a rock.
GRACE: Maybe you’ll find a new family.
The Lobster clambers away over iridescent rocks. Grace looks longingly out at the water.
GRACE (CONT'D): If you find any treasure out there, come back and tell me!
Something in the water catches her eye. She leans forward.
The thing is small, glittering. Purple. Oval in size. Could it be ... a jewel? Moonlight catches on its sparkling body and it undulates gently. A JELLYFISH.
Grace leans forward, mesmerized. She reaches for the jellyfish.
WHAM. A fishing net SLAMS down between the jellyfish and Grace’s hand. Frightened, Grace looks up ... up ... up, into the eyes of OLD BENITA, a hunched old woman standing ankle deep in the water. Tattered overalls flutter around her withered calves. Her skin is deeply tanned, crossed with intricate wrinkles.
OLD BENITA (in Italian): Don’t touch the jellyfish.
Old Benita makes one deft, twisting motion with her net, and scoops up the jellyfish Grace wanted.
OLD BENITA (CONT'D): My jellyfish.
Grace backs away slowly.
To be continued … hopefully on a screen near you one day soon!
Why We Need More Women in Film
Have you ever heard of the Bechdel Test? It started as a joke in an 80’s comic strip. Then it became more serious when people realized, with horror, how few films passed it.
To apply the Bechdel Test to any film: evaluate whether, at any point in the film, there is at least ONE conversation between two female characters (with names) that is not about a man. Sounds pretty easy to pass, right? But fewer than half of Hollywood movies pass this test each year.
What are the implications? Films, which have a major impact on society, gender relations, and how children form their conception of the world and their place in it, have very few interesting, complex, nuanced roles for women.
How do we solve this problem? We cut to the reason it exists. In the past five years, fewer than 5% of movies were directed by women. Only 9% of screenplays in the same period were written by women. The reason we do not have enough interesting female characters of all ages on the screen is that we do not have enough women behind the cameras, producing, directing and writing them.
Please help us solve this problem by supporting outstanding, well-written, entertaining films with interesting female leads, created by female filmmakers.
OTHER PEOPLE’S TREASURE, a semifinalist in the Academy Award’s prestigious Nicholl Screnwriting contest, is one such film. Now, your donation could help bring it to life on the screen. Thank you for your support, and please help us spread the word!
Risks and challenges
Filmmaking is a complex and challenging process. Every production, from a low budget indie film to a Hollywood blockbuster, inevitably experiences obstacles, setbacks and delays.
That said, everyone involved in this film is accustomed to creative problem solving and taking on challenges. We have repeatedly accomplished tasks others said were impossible, and we find great motivation in tackling difficult problems.
Our promise to you is that we will use our combined skills, and many years of experience, to do everything we can to get this film made in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner. And we'll communicate with you candidly along the way. Thank you for your support in making this project happen!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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