Lockdown Generation

Logline: When a bullied outcast seeks violent revenge on his longtime tormentor, his best friend must choose between helping his friend or saving the bully.

The story opens on the bullying of Mark, an entitled rich kid whose anxiety over his parents’ expectations has led to prescription drug abuse and reckless behavior—like keying a football player’s car. That football player, Trey, a jock who nurses his own resentments over his school principal mother’s confining rules and expectations, humiliates Mark for his own amusement—and doesn’t feel any apparent remorse.

Futilely attempting to intervene on Mark’s behalf, his best (and only) friend Corey, who’s dealing with the loss of a parent, must impotently watch the bullying scene play out, much the same way Mark feels compelled to watch the altercation play out again and again on his phone.

Embittered when his humiliation is broadcast to the world, Mark decides to strike out in violent revenge to salvage what is left of his dignity and self-respect. And in today’s America, he’s quickly able to secure an AR-15. He deceives Corey about using blanks to scare Trey and accidentally kills Trey’s dog.

Mark’s shift toward violence leads to a change in Corey, who turns away from his friend and toward his crush, Maryanna the school custodian’s daughter whose own future has been stunted by her family’s undocumented status.

Feeling responsible for what Mark might do, Corey takes real action for the first time and warns the school about Mark’s gun purchase. The next morning, when Trey beats Mark unconscious as payback for killing his dog, the beating sends Mark over the edge. He gives himself over to revenge and cold-blooded murder and heads to the school to find Trey.

Maryanna plays a critical role at the school as she witnesses Mark (albeit disguised) with his AR-15 just before he finds Trey and shoots him. When Corey hears shots ring out inside the school, he rushes to stop Mark—taking real heroic action for the first time—and gets a bullet in the stomach for it.

Accidentally shooting Corey takes Mark out of revenge mode and into survival mode. He melts into the crowd and tries to get away from the scene only to be placed in an ambulance with the critically wounded Corey.

At the hospital, all of the narrative strands come together. Corey is interrogated as a suspect in the murders but identifies Mark as the murderer. Maryanna confirms the ID, and the two of them are key to Mark’s arrest and subsequent conviction and imprisonment.

Further justice is done as it’s revealed that Maryanna’s family has received protected status, freeing Maryanna to pursue her collegiate dreams. And perhaps a relationship with Corey.

  • Joel McElvaney
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Action, Teen
  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
  • Nashville Film Festival
    Nashville, TN
    July 22, 2022
  • StoryPros Awards

    June 1, 2023
  • Selling Your Screenplay SYS's Six-Figure Screenplay Contest

    June 1, 2022
    2nd Rounder
Writer Biography - Joel McElvaney

A former high school teacher and screenwriting instructor, McElvaney has spent most of his life helping others craft meaningful, emotionally-resonant stories. Now a full-time screenwriter himself, McElvaney applies a deep understanding of structure and character development to his features, which often show what happens when the underestimated and overlooked take action.  

Just getting started in the industry, McElvaney has fared well in screenplay competitions with his risque TV dramedy pilot Not Swingers, a 2nd-rounder at AFF in 2022; his fantasy action/comedy Dragons of the Gloaming, a Top 5 Finalist in the 2021 Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge; and his coming-of-age drama/thriller Sent Away, a Semi-Finalist in the 2022 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition.

In a writers' room or on a set, McElvaney brings a veteran teacher's comfort with collaboration and the ability to adjust on the fly.

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Writer Statement

A public high school English teacher for decades before becoming a full-time screenwriter, I drew on my experience with troubled, dangerous teens and the intricacies of active shooter drills and campus evacuation protocols to craft a script that is both compelling and authentic.

We often say that “kids these days” have it so much easier, but in reality, today’s adolescents must deal with so many more anxiety-producing circumstances than we ever did 20-30 years ago—all while under the microscope of constant surveillance and judgment not only from friends and family but also from complete strangers who feel justified in their scrutiny and scorn.

With school shootings an ever-present part of the American landscape, Lockdown Generation provides a gripping look at how one student’s boiling emotions transform him from victim to perpetrator.