SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT How One Man Survived the Trauma of Adoption, the Snares of the Music Business and Found His Birthmother and Seven Sisters
20th Century (multiple decades)
The main character was told at age eight that he was adopted and that his real mother had died in childbirth. He shouldered the guilt for his own mother's demise but kept her alive in his heart, always believing that he would find her one day. He eventually finds his mother and seven sisters.
A young boy is adopted into a family just after birth. His adoptive mother is cross addicted to prescription medications and given to great emotional turbulence. He grows up in a very cold and unloving environment until he leaves home for New York City at age 18 to find fame and fortune.
Later in life, through a strange turn of events he actually finds his real mother and also discovers that he has seven sisters. His birthmother passed away in 2015 but he is still in close contact with his siblings.
Southern New Jersey/New York City
Based on a True Story
Plot - Premise
Overcoming Monster/Villain,Rags to Riches,Quest,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Voyage and Return
Plot - Other Elements
Meaningful Message,Happy Ending,Coming of Age,Twist,Philosophical Questions,Other
Mature Audience Themes
Main Character Details
Name: Gary Mesiano/David Leigh Byron
Age: childhood through adulthood
Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Crazy,Empathetic,Outspoken,Faithful,Funny,Gracious,Romantic,Sarcastic,Heartthrob,Sophisticated,Insecure,Naive,Underdog,Unapologetic
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Charming,Complex,Empathetic,Selfless,Outspoken,Faithful,Funny,Gracious
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Charming,Selfless,Empathetic,Engaging,Outspoken,Skillful,Faithful,Funny,Gracious
Additional Character Details
The author has not yet written this
Please refer to "Treatment" already provided.
Gary struggles through childhood feeling out of place with his adopted parents. He feels like his Aunt Marie is his only ally. Gary finds solace in music and eventually finds his way to NYC with his talents. Gary settles down after a respectable career but longs to find his real family.
Authors Writing Style: FAIR
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
The book profile development pitch defers to the short summary but the development pitch could be a chance to explore the narrative's themes about adoption trauma and how this affected Gary throughout his life and career.
Draw of Story
The prologue showing how Gary had to take care of his drug addicted adopted mother really helps to understand why he was so set on finding his birth mother despite growing up with two parents. As the mother's demise is only shown through distance when Gary is young and not as dependence until he is a teenager, this opening adds tension because the wait creates suspense to reach the adopted mother's rock bottom as Gary grows up.
There is very little dialogue between observations which creates a lot of telling instead of showing about the characters. Much of the events are shown through the protagonist's perspective, but adding dialogue will allow characters to show display their own unedited personalities as open to interpretation by the audience.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
The hook is children put up for adoption are meant to have the option to a better life, but Gary felt he got the shaft in his adoption. The theme of adoption trauma is an interesting angle and his somewhat happy ending in finding his real family is reassuring.
With some alteration in pacing and focus this could have a decent sized fanbase i the themes are made more consistent throughout different points of Gary's life rather than just being towards later in his life.
This is could have awards potential given the seriousness of the family drama coupled with an uncommon social issue and various trauma evoking a range of emotions to gain acting recognition. However, the theme would need to be more apparent and focused about adoption reconnecting rather than also being about finding a successful music career.
Similar Films/TV Series
LION, RICKI AND THE FLASH, MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, AUGUST RUSH, LOSING ISAIAH, SHORT TERM 12
What’s New About the Story
The adoption trauma and the relationship with Marie is what makes the story different than a normal coming of age story. By either developing the theme earlier in the childhood or focusing just on the later in life search during Marie's care the unique elements will be at the forefront rather than just a timeline of Gary's life.
Gary is sentimental, upstanding and caring despite his cold upbringing. He is hopeful and resilient.
Uniqueness of Story
The concept of adoption trauma is fresh as is the relationship between Gary and his adoptive mother and aunt, however the narrative tends to have a broader focus of the coming of age and career of Gary showing how he settled down into every aspect of his life not just his quest to find his birth family because of his messed up adopted family.
Film - Streaming, Film - Indie
WORK IN PROGRESS
While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.
Tips for Improvement
Either focusing on a shorter span of the biography to include flashback of traumatic moments or reflecting on the whole timeline earlier to introduce the theme of adoption trauma will make the message more consistent. Caring for one's elderly aunt after an esteemed career and hoping to find one's birth family is a very different mindset than wishing for an escape while caring for one's drug addled mother as a teen. By connecting the goal of finding one's birth family to a consistent motivation, the main conflict will be easier to follow. In between leaving home and getting married, the focus seems to be on career success and women so this section somewhat turns the birth family plot into a subplot of the Pat Benatar cover in the wake of looking for the success as the main goal.