Private Project


The year is 1987, and the attractive DELIA MAYEAUX (36) rests inside the office of laid-back psychologist DR. PETER GRIFFITH (48) as he attempts to get her to open up about a past trauma via hypnosis. Delia recalls a few troubling details that she doesn't quite understand. Among them is the fact that she is sitting in a lifeboat with hostile survivors. There is also a young boy who has carved the initials S.M.G on the inside of the boat. In actuality, she has never been on a boat. In fact, she is afraid to even get into a pool. Neither she nor her doctor can quite figure out what these memories mean.

Sometime later, PHIL REEMER (38) peers at a dilapidated warehouse through binoculars as a cargo truck makes its way towards the worn building. Delia's fiancé, CHRIS SILVEN of SILVEN OIL COMPANY (54), gets out of truck along with LARRY FUTRELLE (32). As Phil continues to spy on the duo, he loses his footing and tumbles off a nearby crate. Larry unveils the contents of another crate, prompting an astonished reaction from Chris. Neither man is aware of Phil's presence as he quietly slinks off.

Meanwhile, Delia has some present day drama going on as the kitchen staff of her historic restaurant MAYEAUX'S has just learned she may be selling the place. Fiery chef BUSTER (38) is reading SID BOTHMAN (62) the riot act, annoyed by the fact that the man is attempting a buyout. Delia sees the commotion and tries to calm everyone down as a disgruntled Bothman leaves. The crew asks her what will come of them if she sells Mayeaux's. She doesn’t have a ready answer. We soon learn that Delia is selling the restaurant in an effort to help Chris, whose oil is company is on a government mandated drilling freeze due to a ban on oil exploration in the Gulf. Because of this, the couple is in need of ready cash prior to their wedding, as Chris has begun to locate items for auction within his own company.

Business continues on as usual at Silven Oil, as Phil secretly monitors the company's activities. He notes that Chris appears to be gathering up a crew for some sort of clandestine expedition. Among the crew will be an oceanographer and a sonar operator as well as a cook. A rough mannered but knowledgeable woman named NICKI DANBOM (34) is hired as oceanographer. That same evening, Chris and a casually dressed Phil discuss the possibility of Phil joining the team as a sonar operator. We learn that Phil has special-ops training and was once in the Navy, making him a valuable asset to the team. Later that same evening, Phil runs into Delia at in the penthouse foyer. He assumes she is applying for the position of the crew's cook and hits on her.

Delia later relates the exchange to a jealous Chris. At Mayeaux's, Delia meets up with Sid Bothman again to discuss the business. She becomes outraged when she learns Chris has been talking to Sid regarding the sale if her business as well as making deals with the man on her behalf. During the meeting, her chef Buster charges into the office and pelts Bothman with tomatoes.

That meeting having come to an abrupt end, a distressed Delia tries to sooth her frazzled nerves at the Silven penthouse, but a subsequent scream puts her further on edge. Delia tries to find the source of the scream by following a service hallway to the auction hall where many of Chris' items are being held. She notes a 30-foot-long object on a platform and is astonished to learn that it is the lifeboat from the S.S. Titanic that she has seen in her dreams. Further investigation culminates in her discovery of the initials S.M.G. She is stunned. Chris soon finds Delia sitting in the boat. Delia asks Chris why he is being so secretive about his holdings. He tells her he has to be. After turning on the work lights in the space, he exposes a BLOWN UP PHOTOGPRAPH on a far wall explaining that he has developed a sub that go to greater depths than ever achieved before. When Delia informs his that the Titanic has been reached, he says that the French exploration team had only brought up items found around the debris field and that he plans to go inside. His goal is to auction off the things he finds to avoid bankruptcy. She bristles at the mention of the restaurant telling him it wasn't his place to tell Sid anything.

Delia recounts the encounter with the lifeboat to Dr. Griffith. He tells her that she may be experiencing reincarnation or memories from a past life. She scoffs at the idea of souls returning to work out old debts. Griffith asks Delia if she believes she has a soul. He regresses her back to the moment in the lifeboat where she saw the young man carving his initials into the side of the boat. She begins to shiver as she recalls the events of the Titanic 1912... Under hypnosis Delia relives the scene of a chivalrous and brave man placing her onto a lifeboat that can only hold one more passenger. His frantic wife pleads for him to get on, but the man refuses and saves Delia instead. Excited, Dr. Griffith tells Delia that she may be experiencing past life guilt for getting onto the boat. Even with this new knowledge, Delia can't seem to escape the sounds of screams and ghostly voices from another past. It frightens her to tears. Unable to struggle beyond these particular demons, she decides to secretly join Buster on Chris' Titanic expedition as a crew member.

Initially disguised, Buster introduces her as his chef's assistant to a disgruntled MARCEL ST PIERRE (52), a stocky French Navel captain. Delia is told by Marcel that she will have to share quarters with the only other female on board, the ship's oceanographer, Nickie. Upon seeing Delia, Phil recognizes her and smiles. Everyone is formally introduced in the mess deck, and we officially learn who the members of the crew are, namely, Nickie, the female oceanographer, Phil as the sonar operator, Captain Marcel Pierre, Larry Futrelle, an exploratory diver and a ragtag ensemble of French crewmen.

After dinner, Phil corners Delia in the kitchen and asks why she would accept a job at sea when it was clear she didn't like the water. Delia tells him that she is trying to figure that out herself. He later corners her on the deck and charms his way into a dance as Frank Sinatra plays on a boom box. He tells her that it is to help her get over sea sickness, but it is merely a ruse to get close to her. Chris' right-hand man, Larry, catches the couple's interaction from the ship's bridge.

Delia meets Nickie that evening, and the two bond. Nickie is even there to help her when she has a nightmare about the boat sinking.

The next day, Chris discovers Delia is on board. After a minor argument, she babbles a bit about the Titanic lifeboat and her need to be there—a confused Chris reacts angrily, causing Delia to slap him. He tells her she is restricted to her quarters and the galley. Buster would later reveal that the fight effectively ended their engagement. The fight resumes, however, after Delia learns that Chris plans to blow up the titanic in an effort to get at whatever treasures lie in the old ship's hull. Enraged, Delia throws a food try at him and tells him that what he plans to do would be an act of desecration. Delia's words fail to get through to him. Delia tries to stop Chris from leaving. In a scuffle, she slips on some food, knocking her head on the floor. Now in an unconscious state, she finds herself back on the Titanic where she is reliving the scene of the tragic accident. During this vision, she finally understands why the women were viewing her with such fury – in this incarnation, Delia wasn't a woman at all; rather, they discovered that she had been a man donned in woman's clothing. It had been a ruse to get placed on a life boat.

Delia awakes with a start to find Buster tending to her. She tries to tell him to stop Chris and his team, but he tells her they've already begun their excavation. Delia decides to tell Nickie and Phil what is going on. During their conversations, they learn that Phil is Naval intelligence. Working with the Department of Environmental Quality, they have been in pursuit of Chris since the deaths of two divers who were killed in a sub accident. Delia convinces Phil try to defuse the bomb that Chris is trying to detonate on the Titanic, and he agrees. With Buster and Nickie helping them along, they manage to secure another sub.

Needing to be on the boat, Phil talks a skittish Delia into accompanying Nickie to the ocean bottom. Both Nickie and Delia give Phil a big kiss prior to leaving. The two ladies soon find and detach the detonator disk Chris had placed onto the ship's hull with a manipulator arm . Bomb in “hand”, they rush back up to the surface—to Delia's great relief. As they attempt to ascend Delia sees something that catches her eye on the Titanic. She asks Nickie to stop so she can see the familiar looking wreckage. Nickie does so, responding to the emotion in Delia's voice, but the move costs them as Chris's sub has spotted them. Using his sub's manipulator arm, Chris attempts to grab and retrieve the disk. A sub fight ensues with Nickie placing the detonator disk on the underside of Chris' sub before heading back up to the surface.

Chris finally makes it back to the boat, and he is furious. As he attempts to locate the crew that opposed him, Phil assists Buster, Delia, and Nickie down into the life raft he had secured. Chris eventually forsakes the quest and instead decides to detonate the bomb — a move that proves to be disastrous, blowing up his ship and sinking it. Thankfully, the Naval ship U.S.S Charlotte is not too far behind as they had been tailing them the entire time. Delia can’t leave him behind and asks the men to help her pull Chris aboard the life boat. Despite his pleading, Delia decides she is done with Chris.

Delia had hoped the move would bring about a bit of closure and resolve her nightmares, but unfortunately the dreams only have gotten worse. Dr Griffith tells her that she may never know what her soul's debts are, to which she asks: how long it would be before her soul gets it right?

At the restaurant, Phil shows up and engages Delia in another dance as Carl and Buster smile on. Falling out of a gleeful dizzying spin, Delia captures the attention of sad sack Arthur, who tells her to take his seat. Recalling her escapades on the Titanic in a former life, she stops Carl when he makes a move to eject the disheveled, depressed man, offering him some food and coffee instead.

Now an item, Phil tells Delia that he has arranged a small parting gift for her, as he is going to be away for three weeks on rig inspections. Upon returning home, she discovers to her surprise and delight, that the gift is the Titanic lifeboat which Phil has placed into her pool. Our story ends with a peacefully sleeping Delia resting on the boat, her soul on the verge of getting it right in this lifetime.

  • Michael Begg
  • Barry Lemoine
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    United States
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  • Austin Film Festival Screenplay & Teleplay Competition
    Austin, TX
    September 11, 2015
    Second Rounder in the Drama category (top15%)
Writer - Michael Begg, Barry Lemoine