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Feature Adventure/Thriller/Action screenplay 100 pages (90 minutes)
A young engineer must overcome dangerous geology, bitter political intrigue, a sinister government agency, a rebellious drilling crew, and his own pride to champion geothermal technology.
KASE Walker is a grad student close to a Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico. He is Navajo but in name only, shunning their earth-based spirituality. Kase and his family depend on royalties from fracking oil and gas wells. He has latent guilt over his past as an exploration drilling engineer extracting hydrocarbons and hopes to repent with a new career in geothermal engineering.
The government closes the Walker family’s oil field. The royalties they depend on for food and shelter dry up. Kase gets a chance to engineer a geothermal well. He has to quit grad school, but it’s an opportunity to champion geothermal tech.
The prospect turns out to be an extremely dangerous rank wildcat well. The geology causes dangerous problems Kase’s drilling rig and his crew. The management is unwilling to help him prepare for what is surely coming: a blowout.
Bordering on a nervous breakdown coping with the stress, MELBA (Hispanic, recent graduate) the rig geologist steps forward and helps Kase obtain the data he needs to prepare for catastrophe. Kase must give up his fierce independence and pride as a lone “wildcatter” to work with Melba and her father, the rig superintendent, as a team.
The well blows out! Kase manages to save it, but only to discover he was tricked. It’s not a geothermal prospect at all but an oil gusher. Worse yet, the oil flowing will obliterate the future potential of the area to provide geothermal energy to central New Mexico.
Fighting the rig hands, the owner, and the owner’s nefarious and secretive government sponsor, Kase sets the rig on fire. He must evoke the fierce independence of his Navajo heritage to do so, and embrace in heart and soul their overpowering respect for nature.
Kase learns the need for teamwork and, in so doing, achieves an independent pride in leadership, earning him a new tribal name, Fire Walker.
The technical details (the engineering, geology, and the drilling rig dynamics/management) are authentic. I worked for many years as a consulting engineer in the construction business, and energy conservation was my specialty, especially ground source heat pumps (geothermal heat pumps). I was chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Geothermal Energy Committee. (I've been a licensed Professional Engineer since 1992.) I also was an exploration drilling engineer for Exxon. Moreover, the political decisions that set the story in motion - the US Supreme Court cutting off the Navajo's water rights (a decision handed down this past June) and only a few weeks ago, an Executive Order from the White House shutting down drilling at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico; are true events. The drilling rig setting, at Pecos Ruins next to a Civil War battlefield is as described; as is the Navajo/Anasazi mythology. The deep geology of the Rio Grand Rift is exactly as stated, also. Even the final scene with the Elfago Baca character is historically accurate, quoting his exact words to a client back in the Wild West days when he was a lawyer in Reserve, New Mexico not far from the location.
The estimated budget is $10-15 million. The opening scenes take place in Albuquerque and the rest are set only a few miles away to the east near Santa Fe at Pecos Pueblo near Glorieta Pass. Albuquerque is a big film hub with lots of ready-made sets and movie people available. There's a little F/X, but easy to do.
I’ve had 2-3 sets of notes per week in the last 6 months, polishing the screenplay. The last half dozen analyses were done by the scriptreader.ai Artificial Intelligence bot, with a consistent rating of 8.6/10 (on par with the best feature films in their database).