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ProducerJeff Singer ProductionStowaway Entertainment (email@example.com)
An ex-soldier finds out his son, who’s dealing with PTSD and whose wife is pregnant, is being deployed back to Afghanistan. Desperate to save his son’s family, the father taps into an old loophole that allows draftees to send someone else to war in their place.
A family struggles to cope with the death of their son in Afghanistan. When the other son learns he will shortly be redeployed to Afghanistan himself, his father decides to make use of an archaic law to take his son’s place in the war
2006-2008 / Over the course of approximately 2 years
Split between Afghanistan (desert, air base, village, barracks) and Pennsylvania (house, cemetery, metal factory, saloon, court, hospital, military training area).
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At Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan 2006, SERGEANT TOMMY LANE JR. (20s) interacts with another soldier, RODGERS, and is surprised to see his brother PVT. MICHAEL LANE (20s). Suddenly, gunfire erupts and insurgents storm the base. Rodgers is hit and a suicide bomber sets off a violent explosion that kills Tommy.
One year later, Tommy’s funeral takes place in Pennsylvania. TOM LANE SR. (40s) goes to work at Metal Works Machining alongside FRANK (40s) and CECILIA (40s). Michael struggles to adjust to Tommy’s death, and Tom is very critical of him for it. At the Lane house, CHRISTINE (40s) cooks one of Tommy’s favorite recipes. Michael and his wife SARAH (20s) join them for dinner and they toast to Tommy’s birthday. Michael announces that his unit has been recalled and he will be going back to Afghanistan.
Michael drinks with PETE (20s) and talks about the guilt he feels over his brother’s death. At the bar, MEATHEAD pushes CANDY (20s) and Michael punches him. Candy asks to buy him a drink but notices his wedding ring. Later, Tom has to pick Michael up after a drunk-driving-related accident. Sarah reveals to Tom that she is pregnant and Michael suffers from severe PTSD.
“In His Stead” is a war drama about a father who tries to take his son’s place after his son’s deployed to go back to war. The premise sets the stage for interesting characters and situations. The narrative structure allows for a complete story to be told and follows a logical, causal progression. External conflict is steady and creates engaging obstacles, which the protagonist overcomes by using his wit and individual strengths. Although internal conflict could be punched up a bit, there is a clear character arc, and the protagonist’s goal and sacrifice make for a compelling and sympathetic lead character, as well as a highly cathartic and satisfying resolution. The writing is on par with industry standards....
“In His Stead” tells the story of retired army ranger Tom Lane, who, after having one son killed in Afghanistan and learning that his other son will soon be redeployed, decides to pursue an archaic law loophole from the Civil War era that will allow him to take his son’s place in battle. “In His Stead” has a fascinating premise and complex and emotionally compelling characters in the Lane family. Their dialogue and interpersonal relationships are dynamic, and the script grapples with difficult themes of survivor’s guilt, sacrifice, and the lengths to which parents are willing to go for their children. The script is held back somewhat by its slightly uneven pacing, spending a bit too long on Tom’s training exercises without making the stakes or the actual danger of war entirely clear. There is also a shift in the conflict’s focus once Tom actually goes off to Afghanistan, and this might improve through greater consistency and more sustained attention on the core conflict between father and son. While some of these areas could be improved, overall the narrative is descriptively written and emotionally engaging, telling an innovative variation of the soldier drama that is based on a true story and tells a moving tale of familial sacrifice....
Centered on a father taking the place of his son during the Afghanistan war, “In His Stead” is close to being a terrific war drama with a great premise, a strong central character, well-written action, and strong themes and tone. What needs improvement is minimal but significant, as the structure and pacing feel uneven in the second half, with to attention character not as strong as it is in the first act, and an ending that comes across as rushed, and in need of lengthening for further dramatic weight. Despite these notes, a lot works great and overall, “In His Stead” is a good entry in the genre....