Thriller - Development 2015

The story takes place on a hot August night in 1969. A home in Benedict Canyon is the setting for an intimate “A” list Hollywood party. During the course of the evening, careers are examined, jeopardized and shattered. This is done all under the watchful eye of the party’s host, Hollywood’s top entertainment columnist. That same evening, a short distance away, the columnist’s neighbor and her houseguests are savagely murdered. The neighbor is Sharon Tate.

    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Thriller
    • Countries
    • USA
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 5 - 10 M$
    • Duration
    • 93 mn
    • Writer(s)
    • Joseph STEFANO
    • Producer(s)
    • Synopsis
    • SIMON KELLER is hosting a party in his modest but charming Cielo Drive home, up in a little side-canyon above the Beverly Hills Hotel. Simon, a handsome, elegant man of 40, is a gossip columnist for a major Los Angeles newspaper. A superimposed legend tells us that this night in August 8, 1969. Simon, who always does his own cooking, is in the kitchen, working intensely, thinking furiously, building himself up for a major confrontation with one of his expected guests, MARCUS ROZEN, the 70-year-old, amazingly youthful-looking founder and still Chief Executive of Horizon Pictures Studio.

      Simon has turned off the air-conditioning because “heat makes people irritable, and irritable people tell gossip columnists things they know they shouldn’t be telling another soul in the world.” Though it is only just after nightfall, already there is a feeling that the house is being watched by someone. A feeling of foreboding begins; it will last all night long, growing more pronounced and frightening as the hours pass.

      Simon’s trusted and exacting assistant, GIOVANNI SMITH, answers the front door -- and the party begins. The first arrivals are CLAUDIA McGUIRE, the 27-year-old gorgeous singer/actress, and her hired accompanist, MIKE WALTER, who, at age 22, happens to be as golden-curled beautiful as angels are said to be. Claudia is in the clouds, having recently been confirmed as star of Horizon’s big budget musical, which is to be directed by her lover, LEWIS ROZEN, the tallish and talented, instantly likeable son of Marcus. Although the deal has been firmed, Claudia will sing tonight for Lewis’ father, and she wants (and expects) him to love her almost as much as his son does.
      There is an unannounced, unseen arrival, a small young girl of 19 named TILLIE CAIRO, who approaches the house with the air of someone who doesn’t belong there. She slips through the service yard, strips naked, and quietly submerges herself in the pool.
      Next to arrive is TWAIN HOLDEN, top box-office movie star and a macho Greek God of a man. Accompanying Twain is his eerily beautiful wife, VIVIA, 29, blessed (or cursed) with a keen sensitivity about her environment and the auras of those around her. Before she even enters Simon’s house, she feels an air of evil surrounding it, hovering over it, seeping into it through open doors and windows. She’d like to turn around and run from it as fast as she can. But she can’t. She is Twain Holden’s wife, compelled by his studio to stay near him, always, to fool the public into thinking that Twain is every bit as ‘normal’ as any romantic leading man in movies can be.

      Also at the party is JON AUTUMN, mid-20’s a friend of Giovanni’s, here to help out however needed. Jon is a loyal, fun, extroverted but perennially unemployed actor driven by a self-destructive streak that makes him pitiful but loveable. As with all the other guests, Jon has an inner-reality that he must come face to face with. The atmosphere of foreboding and inexplicable violence that fills the unmoving air of this hot, hot summer night, may or may not force him to endure the fearfulness of a self-face-off.
      Things start the downward spiral into violence when Simon’s explosively beautiful ex-wife, SUZY KELLER (with whom Simon is still deeply in love and unrealistically convinced that she’ll come back to him) stops at the house to drop off their 15-year-old, tall and sylphlike daughter MELINDA, who loves nothing better than to hang at her dad’s house. Suzy tells Simon she is going to spend the evening with her friend Sharon, who lives close by, and Melinda would be bored by grown-up-girl-talk. Even though Simon knows that Suzy and Sharon are close friends, he’s sure she’s lying to cover a date with her ‘latest.’ She leaves after the usual brief but bitter argument. And from here on it’s downhill all the way. With these egos all in one place at the same time, a party environment seems impossible…and will prove to be exactly that. The arguments and petty sarcasms and hateful, harmful hostilities create a swift, disturbing atmosphere that is paralleled to what is happening ‘within screaming distance’ of this event. Indeed, as the night progresses we hear evidence and even see breath-taking but mysteriously unspecific FLASH SHOTS of what is happening at the Tate house: never long enough or distinct enough to do more than shock and unsettle us, these SHOTS help point up what is psychologically happening with Simon Keller and his guests.

      As a major movie star, under contract to a studio that pays, coddles, and protects him from everything and everybody, including himself, Twain Holden is used to getting what he wants. No sooner is he through the door than he propositions Mike, the angel-headed pianist hired by Claudia for the evening. Twain’s advance is not only rebuffed, it enrages Mike. But Twain keeps after him. Finally, in a harrowing sequence in the pool, Mike uses a butcher knife to put an end to the problem, thereby terrifying Twain and humiliating him. Meanwhile, Marcus is here only to convince Simon to remove his lead item in tomorrow morning’s paper. In refusing him, Simon tells Marcus that he invited him only when he realized that he had not told his son he was being fired. His son would learn of it when he reads the morning paper. This appalls Simon’s morality; he can’t believe Marcus would do this to his own son. Because he greatly admires Lewis’ talent as a director, and likes him as a friend, he demands that Lewis be told tonight -- and by the only person he should hear it from, his father.

      At this point, with the results of Lewis’ being fired, thereby canceling Claudia’s hope of a career-making film, the tensions and hostilities among the guests are being punctuated by ever-more horrifying flashes of violence -- blood splashing on walls, girlish hands bringing down an already blood-soaked knife, the screaming as it plunges into the unseen victim. Also, screams are heard, and the sound of shots firing. And the heat gets worse as the night moves sneaking toward morning. These flash-shots increase as a for-money dice game is played – a game called “Pig.” Lewis, in a rage because his father did not fight the ‘New York office’ to keep him on, attacks his father, and they fight like a pair of street warriors. The flashes now are more specific: the word PIG written on a door in human blood; American Evil subliminally depicted by a blood-clot which explodes into the face of a man with a swastika burned into his forehead.

      And the hot night moves on, changing attitudes, realigning relationships, provoking sexual encounters in the pool, and giving rise to a heavy, almost debilitating sense of dread. The feeling that something awful is going to happen cannot be shaken off. The entire house becomes the scene of violence and psychological destruction, and without a drop of blood being spilled here. And Simon’s wife has not returned.

      With the dawn, Melinda is the first to hear the radio news flash of the murders of actress Sharon Tate, three men…and another woman. Convinced that the woman is her mother, Melinda becomes hysterical. Her hysteria is contagious. Simon and every guest catches it. And with it comes the sad, sobering sense that life is precarious. That we must not waste a single moment of it or let go of a single person we love, a single friend, a single one of our children.

      Through it all, Claudia proves to be the caretaker of tormented souls. She stays with Simon and Melinda, who now must wait for the news of their future: will they live it with or without the person so important in their lives?
    • Partners & financing
    • Production schedule
    • OCTOBER 2015 - APRIL 2016
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Oct 15, 2015
    • End of shooting
    • Dec 22, 2015
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