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The Reason Why (Dramedy / Romance)

Log Line

When a lawyer who clerks for a D.C Judge learns she will inherit his waterfront condo, she visits the site to discover that not only is she his daughter, but the judge's son is actually not related to him at all. They join forces to stop an eminent domain action against the condominium complex.

Script Info

Script Type: Feature
Genre: Dramedy / Romance
Length: 93 pages
Est. Budget: $1M - $5M

Screenplay Synopsis

The Reason Why is a feature-length dramedy set along the idyllic shores of Sailboat Bay, an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay near Washington, D.C. Federal Judge GEORGE COLLINS, late 40's, lies in a coma after a devastating heart attack. The personalities of the main characters in the story are defined, in large part, by their relationship to the judge. EDWARD COLLINS, 70's, his father, normally a witty and pleasant retired lawyer, is burdened with the serious responsibility of determining if and when life support should be discontinued. In Act three, after the decision is made, instead of expiring, George wakes up to discover that the son he raised, HUNTER COLLINS, late 20's, is not actually his. Adding to his psychological pain is the realization that he failed to raise a daughter he did know about, SARA HITCH, late 20's, although he directed her life from the sidelines, including her legal education, then hired her as one of his law clerks for the past seven years.

Hunter and Sara meet in the Inciting Incident of the script, and they discover they are half-siblings in the turning point at the end of Act One. They work together to attempt to save the weekend condo of the judge, located in a condominium complex targeted by the antagonists, CANDI DAVIS, late 40's, the judge's ex-wife and the mother of Hunter and SENATOR PUSHKIN, 60's, her lover and partner in an eminent domain action to turn the condos into a Coast Guard Station that Candi and the senator will secretly own through offshore corporations so they can lease it to the government for a fortune. Sara is a legal scholar, well versed in all things constitutional, but lacking in all things social due to the chip on her shoulder about men. She is always seen in glasses and with her hair in a bun, reading, writing, or talking about the cases she handles during the eighty-hour work weeks that make her a topnotch law clerk, devoted to her boss, but now unemployed due to his heart attack. A vegan and true city girl, she still lives at home with her adoring mother, VICKY HITCH, late 40's, an attractive insurance agent opposed to anything risky, which includes her own interactions with men.

Sara's character arc takes her outside the city limits to become a lover of the people and life on Sailboat Bay. George's father Edward, retired from life as a lawyer's lawyer, is the keeper of George's will which leaves the condo with the stunning view to Sara. He assisted George in making sure Sara was well educated and therefore was in touch with Vicky, who kept their secrets as she benefitted from their support. She tells Sara the reason why the judge left her the condo is because he wants her to experience life outside the city, learn about the country, its people, and enjoy the peaceful life of Sailboat Bay.

Hunter is a boat builder, fisherman and all around good old boy with a few rough edges. He has no girlfriend because all the local ladies he is attracted to treat him like a brother. He would feel trapped in an office, and therefore could not follow his father and grandfather's legal careers, much to their dismay. He did share some of the judge's best times, however, out in his father's sailboat and on fishing trips to Florida. The fact that he is actually not the judge's son is not revealed until the turning point at the end of Act Two. In his character arc, he learns of the interesting and cultural aspects of city life and in the end, decides to live there instead of the country so Sara can fulfill her dream of clerking for a Supreme Court Judge. When Hunter first meets Sara, he's attracted to her and takes her out on his boat to introduce her to Sailboat Bay where she catches her first fish but is basically disgusted with the idea of eating oysters, crabs, or even fish. At the same time they are on the water, Vicky searches through George's things at the condo and finds old pictures, which she shares with Candi's friend BLAIR BALDWIN, 50's the gossip queen and treasurer of the condo association when she visits Vicky to find out what Vicky's story is and learns George is Sara's biological father.

Vicky is steady, responsible, someone you can count on. She never takes risks and has Sara's well being as her first interest. She is so apologetic for keeping Sara in the dark all these years about her father, but she had made a promise to the judge, who always supported her and Sara. Candi, Hunter's mother and George's ex-wife, is nearing fifty but looks thirty in her bright orange bikini when lounging at the condo association's pool. She is a high-powered realtor who got pregnant in college and then targeted George to be the father due to his wealthy family. They raised Hunter together until Candi cheated, resulting in a divorce. Hunter moved into his own condo at Sailboat Bay and Candi remarried a congressman but divorced him, keeping his last name and his Chevy Chase home. When Candi finds out that Vicky is Sara's mother, she calls Hunter so she can spill the beans about Sara. Vicky calls Sara so she can get ahead of the revelation, but Hunter and Sara are having too good of a time out on his boat to be disturbed until they return and discover the truth. Sara is devastated, Hunter surprised, but after discussing it, both are happy to have a half-sibling. Candi tells Hunter he can't think of Sara as family because, as only she knows, Hunter is actually not George's son.

The senator, with his impressive full head of white hair, is a powerful politician, used to getting his own way but always in need of contributions so he can continue his life-long job of being one of Washington D.C.'s power elites. Senator Pushkin's main financial supporter, LOUIS LIDO, 50's, a wealthy Jeff Bezos type who lives in New York City, owns an internet company and several banks. Louis meets Vicky, takes her to lunch and then shows off his island home, recently purchased so he could provide his newly-purchased mega yacht a place to dock. He boasts that the reason why the condos are targeted for a Coast Guard station is because he made a deal with the senator that if he got him elected, the senator would get the Coast Guard to build a station there, meaning they would have to deepen the channel for their ships and therefore Lou could get his mega yacht to his new dock. Lou thinks all of this will impress Vicky so her can have her, but she is not a lady who will let a rich New Yorker win her over with money. With the new information from Lou about the real reason for the Coast Guard Station, Vicky thinks the eminent domain action can be stopped, but Sara knows as long as the federal government pays the owners of the property full market value, there's no legal reason the Coast Guard Station cannot be built. But Candi is afraid the judge may wake up and tell what really happened to him, that his heart attack was induced by Candi to get rid of him, for he knew the corrupt secret of the senator and Candi's offshore company owning the Coast Guard station. She tries to get Hunter to pull the plug on the judge by offering him a piece of the action and telling him George is not his father. Hunter rejects the offer as well as his mother and realizes Sara, whom he loves, is not really his sister.

The eminent domain hearing occurs and the commissioners explain even if it is unpopular, there is no way to stop it, so it passes. The condo will be destroyed. Edward finally decides there is no hope for his son, the judge, and signs the papers for disconnecting him from life support.

Amazingly, he doesn't die. He simply lies in a coma, so Vicky says she will stay with him at the condo along with the long-term care givers the insurance pays for. Hunter decides as long as they are taking him to the condo, the judge would want to be on his sailboat one last time. A storm comes up, the boat is struck by lightning and George comes out of his coma. He reveals the truth about Candi and the senator. Senator Pushkin uses his influence to lay the blame on Candi, who is indicted for attempted murder. The condominium complex is saved, and Vicky moves into the condo to take care of the judge, who arranges for Sara to interview with three Supreme Court Justices. Hunter expresses his love for Sara, who finally lets her hair down and reciprocates, telling him she would move to Sailboat Bay and change her life, leaving her city ways for a life with Hunter on the bay. But, Hunter realizes the country would be better off with people like Sara working for the Supreme Court, so he decides to move to the city and live with her at Vicky and Sara's house, with weekends to be spent on Sailboat Bay.