Unforsaken began as a 1500 word short story, Saguaro Flat — 1909, written for the Palos Verdes Library’s 2017 November Writing month. Audience reaction when it was read at the Library in early 2018 inspired me to adapt it for film. The resulting 45 page script was entered in ScreenCraft’s 2019 Short Screenplay competition. It reached the quarter finals this summer, and in late September, I was informed that it made the semifinals.
The logline is simple: Young greenhorn encounters a wounded desperado in the desert.
I called the young man Abilene, a name, I discovered later, that means “place of streams” or maybe “grassy place,” either definition being the opposite of the desert that is the soul of Diego, a pistolero.
Diego is the wayward son of Señora Guerra, a resident of the village known as Forsaken or Bandonado. Diego has a love of both gold and gambling. Unfortunately, his poor skill at the latter results in his never accumulating much of the former, which leads him to worse and worse depredations, taking ever greater risks.
Abilene’s mother, “Ma,” is a bitter widow who regards her forgetful, grief-stricken son as a burden. It is her decision that sends young Abilene westward, with an old horse and a five-shooter, to work at his cousin’s store in California.
These four orbit each other at a great distance, like planets in a sunless universe, until Diego and Abilene collide on Saguaro Flat.