An unexpected inheritance divides a family and awakens the seven deadly sins…
A young writer loses his job and moves back home with his parents, only to see his little brother inherit millions from a long-lost
family friend, leading him to uncover shocking secrets and testing the bonds of family love.
In a single week, young Max Lyons loses everything—he gets evicted from his NYC apartment, attacks his boss
with a croquet mallet, and moves back home with his parents in a leafy Chicago suburb. He struggles to make peace
with his withdrawn, artistic mother, Helene, and boozy, blustery father, Greg, while romancing his old crush, the
girl-next-door Emma—UNTIL his happy-go-lucky little brother, Ben, suddenly inherits $30 million upon the
suspicious death of a long-lost family friend.
The inexplicable windfall tests the family’s bonds, as jealousy, greed, and rivalry tear the brothers apart. Max
investigates why he was left out with the help of the secretive, beautiful family housekeeper, Nadia, while Greg
manipulates Ben to try to save his failing business, Emma shifts her love to Ben, and Helene tries to hold the family
together. Alliances shift daily as the brothers inch toward violence.
The conﬂicts culminate at the summer’s end at the family’s lake house, where Max uncovers shocking secrets about
his parents’ past that explain the inheritance—prompting acts of violence that threaten to destroy the family, but
may just lead to their reconciliation and rebirth… This passionate, twisting story will delight and move audiences,
touch anyone with a complicated family, and leave everyone buzzing after the ﬁnal credit
White male, late 20’s.
A smart, ironic aspiring writer, ironic aspiring writer, Max is at his wit’s end at the ﬁlm’s beginning. In a single week, he loses
everything—gets evicted from his NYC apartment, attacks his boss with a croquet mallet, and moves back home with his parents in
a leafy Chicago suburb. When his little brother Ben unexpectedly inherits millions of dollars, Max investigates why he was left out.
Max is very intelligent, but this is a blessing and a curse: he is full of words and feeling, cuttingly funny, but also consumed by envy
White male, early 20’s
Blonde, handsome, and athletic, Ben seems at ﬁrst the opposite of his smart, sarcastic older brother. He’s beloved by all and
easygoing with a smile. But Ben is more complex than it ﬁrst seems: he struggles with his sexuality, treats his secret boyfriend cruelly,
and takes up with Emma when he knows it will devastate his older brother. What he clings to most is an idealized view of his parents
that uncovered secrets will shatter.
White female, 50’s
An artistic, withdrawn woman, Helene has recently survived cancer and lives in her domineering husband’s shadow. Like her older
son Max, she is intelligent and creative, but she lacks the conﬁdence to stand up to her husband and do what is right. As the family
falls apart and secrets from her past come to light, she will ﬁnd a new strength to challenge the selﬁshness of others, help both her
sons, and assert her independence.
White male, 50’s
The patriarch of the Lyons family, Greg is a walking American success story: born in rural poverty, but now a wealthy real estate
entrepreneur, sailor, golfer, hunter, and father who always knows best. But his achievements and booming conﬁdence mask a darker
reality: his business is failing, he’s desperately needs Ben’s money, and he’s no longer trusted or in control of his older son or his wife.
His idealized self-image is cracking, and his come-uppance will either destroy him, or make him a new and better man.
White female, mid 20’s
Literally the girl next door, Emma is smart, pretty, and witty, but had to quit college to care for her sick father and now tends bar
around the corner from where she grew up. Earthy and sarcastic, she secretly yearns to get out of town and ﬁnd a new, more
meaningful life. She’s always had a crush on Max, but when Ben inherits millions, she ﬁnds herself drawn almost against her will
toward the chance that this is her ticket out.
White female, late 20’s
The family’s lovely, secretive live-in housekeeper, Nadia is wiser, tougher, and sadder than her years suggest. She was once a literature
student in Kiev, but ﬂed to America to escape a gangster boyfriend. She knows all the family’s habits and secrets. Helene depends on
her completely, and Max relies on her to investigate why he was left out of the money. She keeps everyone at arm’s length, until she
gradually lets Max in. But she is also playing her own game, seeing an opportunity to seize a better life for herself.
White male, early 20’s
A troubled and lonely kid, Oscar is in love with Ben Lyons. He worships and envies the perfect family life he believes the Lyons lead.
Shy and unpopular, he lives with his alcoholic mother and misses his father, who killed himself. He’s adopted a Japanese-centric
anime geek/punk aesthetic. His obsessions with ritualized violence may lead him to terrible acts, but he more desperately just wants
to be loved.
What we visually want to accomplish with A House Divided is beautiful cinematography that creates an
environment that is emotionally resonant. The photography will be saturated in rich luxurious colors. Mood and
texture is very important with this ﬁlm and will be highlighted with splashes of hypnotic camera movement.
Sometimes the movement is ever so slight.
With our interiors we intend to play with foreground and background planes in ways that are similar with the
works of Polanski and Wong Kar-Wai. Our exteriors in Evanston will provide several hauntingly atmospheric shots.
Cinematography from the likes of the late, great Conrad Hall, Christopher Doyle and Roger Deakins all come to
mind when thinking of the ”visuals” of our ﬁlm.
We will most likely use the Arriﬁlex Alexa camera which has exceptional image performance and is reliable in even
the most extreme environments and versatile enough to cover a wide range of workﬂow and budget requirements.
When I ﬁrst read The House Divided screenplay I couldn’t help but think about how a “Thomas Newman” score
would elevate our already strong narrative.
Thomas Newman music helps move a ﬁlm along without disturbing the "moral ambiguity" of the story.
Newman's lush, sonorous and haunting music have faint Irish overtones. Much like our story, Newman’s ethereal tone
is poetic and complex.
Works from other great composers like Philip Glass, Jerry Goldsmith and James Newton Howard also come to mind.
I also am moved by the sounds of Sigur Ros and Trent Reznor. Sometimes words do not describe feeling as well as
Listen to any of Newman’s scores like American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Shawshank Redemption and In the
Bedroom and you will feel it truly is music from the soul.
It makes you wanna cry and at the same time makes your heart ﬂy.
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