Tag Archives: Sheol

The Truth Behind Screenwriting

This past weekend, after some confusion, Ryan hopped on New York’s good ol’ Chinatown bus to downtown Baltimore. We met him at the rendezvous point and proceeded to Millersville. After a night discussing love and loss with computer genius and “Sheol” supporter James Flowers, we followed East West Highway into Annapolis to begin outlining the feature version of “The Sheol Express”.

Now, most everyone probably looks at writing as a relatively simple process. Break out the notebook, the moleskine, the laptop, the napkin – whatever the case may be – tap into your inner-self, and apply Three Act Structure to whatever thoughts are floating around your head. But before even this, there are a number of absolutely essential, and yet all-too-often overlooked, steps that must be taken to pave the path for a successful screenplay:

Never underestimate the power of toiletry accessories! Or of the brain’s WD-40. All of which helped us work through forty-eight hours of brainstorming in my parents’ unheated guest room. Harnessing the awesomeness of Google Wave, we banged our way through a rough outline, only to realize that, thanks to the History of Araboth (link) we wrote eons ago, “Sheol” – in its heart – wants to be a trilogy. That’s right, folks. We kicked the idea around for a while, and in an inspired frenzy of creative tag-teaming, pieced together a seven-hour epic about The Third War. Owen’s reluctant rise to leadership of the Old Regime, Rachael’s fanatical alliance with a banished warlord, and Diggory’s conniving black market empire meet on the battlefield of Araboth’s fall from grace.

We then watched  the documentary “Official Rejection“, which is single-handedly responsible for eliminating our scotch whiskey reserves and reigning our dreams back into a self-contained feature… at least, for now. It’s a bad idea to go into the festival circuit with just an overly-ambitious adaptation, we decided, and after a few more hours spent revisiting the short’s themes – as well as some of the personal shit we’re both struggling with in our own lives – we came up with a workable outline for a 110-page screenplay.

It’s funny, really, to compare our notes plotting the short with our notes plotting the feature. While overlaps are evident, the new “extensions” afforded by our higher page-count are a joy. We’ll get to visit the Ivory Gate, a sort of Ellis Island, Owen’s point-of-entry into the much darker world of Sheol. We’ll explore the Bordertowns of Sheol’s less-than-civilized frontier. We’ll see Owen’s relationships mature and complicate, and we might even get to see what, exactly, lies in wait at the End of the Line. Simply put, “Sheol” has always wanted room to breathe, and now it’s getting it. These next few months will be a ride, folks, as we run with “Sheol” through post-production and into the preliminary stages of its first expansion. Stay tuned!

Sheol’s Place in the Rest of the World

Our friend and fellow filmmaker Brandon Roots of Buffalo Picture House (click for link) brought this curious image to our attention. Really we’ve no idea what the Windows and Doors of Heaven are, or what mysteries lie buried within the Storehouses and Foundations of the Great Deep, but we sure would like to find out!

The Confederation of Sheol Sovereigns

Our story unfolds in a world called “Sheol”. In the script, it is implied that Sheol has some sort of government (ie., consider Owen’s passport). To flesh out what, exactly, this government looks like and is named, we consulted Wikipedia, finally settling on The Confederation of Sheol Sovereigns. Here’s why:

Confederation: usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign affairs, or a common currency, with the central government being required to provide support for all members. A confederation, in modern political terms, is usually limited to a permanent union of sovereign states for common action in relation to other states.

Sheol: in Hebrew שאול (Sh’ol), is the “abode of the dead”, the “underworld“, or “pit”.[2] Sheol is the common destination of both the righteous and the unrighteous dead, as recounted in Ecclesiastes and Job.

Sovereignty: the right to exercise, within a territory, the functions of a state, exclusive of any other state, and subject to no other authority. A sovereign is a supreme lawmaking authority.

And! THIS is why our made-up death world kicks so much more ass than yours does:


T-shirts coming soon!

Again, seal work by the amazing Bryce Kroll.

The History of Sheol: Part I – the Status Quo, the First War, & the Fall of Achra

Araboth is (assuming it exists, according to Reaf Cobham III, of Brouwerij) a forested paradise. It is hidden in the crescent valley on the other side of the mountains that crown the Herman Sea, far to the West of the Land of the Living. Araboth has always existed, just as the End of the Line has always existed; therefore, its history is rich and varied, involved enough to fill sixty-six windows aboard the Sheol Express.

Prior to the First War, Araboth was a land of virtually uninterrupted peace. Those who found it settled gladly, and no one questioned the way of life. Most citizens live in the capital, but the city’s walls are by no means intended to limit. In fact, people live throughout the valley, with rugged individualists and simple rural folk choosing to make the woods their home. Everyone can come and go as they please.

Long ago, Achra, a prominent citizen of Araboth – if Araboth had had a government at the time, he would have ranked among its political leaders – began to question his restful way of life. To put it simply: he was bored. There was no conflict, no challenge; only an easy-going existence with no end in sight. Deeming Araboth an unsustainable utopia, its citizens lazy elitists, Achra rallied a formidable force of supporters, all of whom shared his disillusion. Together, they endeavored to plunge Araboth into conflict, and thereby awaken all those who had “fallen asleep”; that is, turned a blind eye to something as natural as human conflict. The citizens of Araboth were forced to oppose his efforts, in order to protect their way of life. So the Army of the Light (the name of Araboth’s military) came into existence, and Araboth assembled its first governmental system, heretofore unnecessary, because there had never been any miscreants to govern. Walls were erected around the City to protect against Achra’s rebellion. The War was swift: ultimately, Achra and his force were cast out of Araboth, forbidden to return.

The History of Sheol: An Introduction

“The Sheol Express” is set in the drought-stricken land of Sheol – a world unto itself, as unique as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Lewis’ Narnia, and Martin’s Westeros. In the present era, Sheol can be divided geographically into three distinct areas: the Bordertowns in the East, with the forsaken Wastes stretching far West, to the End of the Line. Whispers of a fourth location spread throughout the land – a second-to-last stop called Araboth, before the End of the Line – green, teeming with life and flowing with water.

Does it exist? Some say.

Look for posts over the next couple of weeks detailing the History of Sheol, as recounted by Historian Reaf Cobham III, of Brouwerij, a believer in Araboth and first-class brewer of fine ales.